This article focuses on the impact of COVID-19 on smoking and smoking cessation behaviours and support for smoke-free zones in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. A pre-tested structured survey was distributed by email in October–November 2020 to students and staff at the University of Jeddah. Responses were analysed using descriptive statistics with summative content analysis of open text. Participants providing open text comments (n = 374/666; 56.4%) were non-smokers (n = 293; 78.3%), former smokers (n = 26; 7.0%) and current smokers (n = 55; 14.7%). Some had household members (n = 220; 58.8%) and friends who smoke (n = 198; 52.9%) plus daily exposure to secondhand smoke at home (n = 125; 33.4%). There was an awareness during COVID-19 of: smoking inside cafes/restaurants and other indoor and outdoor public places; exposure to warnings in the media both against and promoting smoking; widespread support for smoke-free zones. Smokers plans for accessing smoking cessation support are inconsistent with retrospective reports. Many express positivity highlighting reductions in smoking but there were also negative reports of increased smoking. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected every aspect of society worldwide. People have been at home more with restricted freedom of movement and limitations on social liberty. These individual accounts can help to focus evidence-based smoking prevention and cessation programmes during and post-COVID-19.


This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

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Tobaiqy, M., MacLure, A., Thomas, D. & MacLure, K. 2021, 'The Impact of COVID-19 on smoking behaviours and support for smoke-free zones in Saudi Arabia.', International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 18(13), article no: 6927. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18136927

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Last updated: 16 June 2022
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