INTRODUCTION: Measures to address the COVID-19 pandemic in India included a ban on the sale and use of tobacco products during 2020 when stay at home guidance (lockdown) was in place. In this study we examined the extent of reduction in frequency of tobacco consumption across all products.

METHODS: Telephone survey was conducted between July and August 2020 across an existing cohort of tobacco users (n=801) residing in Delhi (55.4%) and Chennai (44.6%), India. The participants were recruited irrespective of their gender and use of any kind of tobacco product(s). The survey questionnaire was based on the STOP (Studying Tobacco users Of Pakistan) survey and adapted to the context of smoking and smokeless tobacco use in India.

RESULTS: Cigarette consumption declined from a median value of 5.0 (IQR: 2-10) sticks in the pre-lockdown period to 2.0 (IQR: 0.4-5) sticks during the lockdown period. Reductions were reported in the daily use of bidis, from 8 (IQR: 4-12) sticks to 5 (IQR: 2-10) sticks and for smokeless tobacco users from 3.5 (IQR: 2-5) packs to 2 (IQR: 1-4) packs during the lockdown. Furthermore, the number of daily cigarette smokers in our cohort decreased from 32.6% (n=261) in the pre-lockdown period to 27.5% (n=220) during lockdown and smokeless tobacco users decreased from 35.8% (n=287) in pre-lockdown period to 30.3% (n=243) during the lockdown period.

CONCLUSIONS: The decrease in tobacco use can be attributed to various societal and environmental factors. However, the pandemic-linked lockdown provided an opportune condition to reduce the use of tobacco products, which could be due to restricted access and increase in health awareness during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Cite as

Sharma, N., Chopra, M., Bauld, L., Nazar, G., Joshi, N., Chugh, A., Mohan, S., Mohan, D., Ali, M., Mohan, V., Tandon, N., Narayan, V., Reddy, K., Prabhakaran, D. & Arora, M. 2023, 'Impact of a tobacco sales ban on the frequency of tobacco consumption in India during the COVID-19 pandemic', Tobacco Induced Diseases, 21, pp. 51 -. https://doi.org/10.18332/tid/161855

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Last updated: 05 June 2023
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