New information has surfaced on the link between the pandemic and the deceleration in progress to reduce smoking in certain populations.

In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, Tsoh said many changes in smoking behaviors have been observed, including some individuals reporting smoking more, some reporting smoking cessation, some reporting decreasing intake of packs per day and some former smokers reporting relapse.

Tsoh discussed the National Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander Health Response Assessment ran by the Asian and Pacific Islander American Health Forum in partnership with the CDC, which asked individuals about coping strategies for stress related to COVID-19; characteristics and factors that affect their choice of smoking or vaping to cope with stress; and preexisting conditions.

According to Tsoh, elevated levels of depression and anxiety during the past 7 days were the primary factors cited for smoking among Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander respondents. Asian Americans and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders with depression and anxiety were twice as likely to report choosing smoking or vaping to cope with stressors related to the pandemic. Individuals who reported having at least one mental health condition were almost six times more likely to report choosing smoking or vaping, Tsoh said.

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