A white paper published by Pivot, a digital health company, reveals the concerning trend of increased tobacco use during the COVID-19 pandemic. The paper highlights that cigarette sales saw a year-over-year increase in the first 10 months of 2020, despite a previous trend of annual sales declining by 4-5% since 2015. Quit line calls for tobacco cessation support were also down by 29% compared to the previous year. The report indicates that the combination of remote work, pandemic-related stress, and the absence of enforced breaks has made it harder for individuals to manage cravings and has contributed to increased tobacco use.
Apart from the health impacts, the paper emphasizes the financial and cultural implications of increased tobacco use on businesses and employers. Employing individuals who smoke costs employers an average of $8,900 per year more than non-smoking employees. Smokers also tend to miss more work, resulting in higher costs for lost productivity. The report suggests that employers can support employees in their tobacco cessation efforts, thereby increasing productivity and reducing health risks. It highlights the importance of providing tobacco cessation programs to meet the desire of 70% of smokers who want to quit and improve their chances of success.
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