REDWOOD CITY, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Pivot, a digital health company that empowers individuals to embrace wellness and enables corporations and health plans to improve their population's health, today released a report linking the impact of COVID-19 anxiety and stress to increased tobacco use. For the first time in decades, cigarette sales have increased year over year. Cigarette sales had been falling 4 - 5% annually, but in the first ten months of 2020 alone, sales increased 1%, according to the US Treasury Department. The pandemic and mental health costs of COVID-19 have manifested as an increased reliance on tobacco and vaping.
US tobacco quitlines averaged between 700,000 to 900,000 calls annually in 2019. After the pandemic, reports showed roughly 200,000-250,000 fewer people sought tobacco cessation help. Surveys of tobacco users support these numbers as well. Despite an increased push from health care professionals encouraging their patients to quit or reduce their tobacco habits during the pandemic, 25% of US survey respondents said they increased their smoking. Only 20% claimed to have reduced their smoking, and nearly 60% indicated their smoking habits remained largely unchanged.
“We’re seeing a disturbing trend in tobacco use,” said David Utley, M.D., Pivot's Founder and CEO. “More people are working from home, making it easier to take a smoke break, or use tobacco during the work-day. The absence of enforced breaks and structure, combined with the pandemic stress-based triggers, make it harder for people to manage cravings. These trends are understandable - but dangerous.”
Tobacco users are more susceptible to illness, including COVID-19, and quitting has never been more important. “The U.S. Surgeon General has conclusively linked smoking to the suppression of the immune system. And according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, smoking increases the risk of illness from the virus that causes COVID-19,” says Anne DiGiulio, national director for lung policy at the American Lung Association.
Employers also pay the price as more employees use tobacco. It costs an average of $8,900 more annually to have an employee who smokes on the team vs. a non-smoker. In addition to time spent taking smoke breaks, health-related absences, tobacco surcharges for benefit plans, and increased healthcare costs add to the bottom line. The good news is that 70% of smokers want to quit, and more than half try quitting every year. Employers can step in and provide tobacco cessation programs that increase the likelihood of success.
Pivot is one such program and particularly well-suited for remote workers. The program’s personalized, app-based approach to the quit journey engages participants in cessation activities they find most comfortable and effective. Pivot’s FDA- cleared breath sensor integrates with the app and is clinically proven to increase motivation to quit smoking. The program also offers coaching and peer support options in the privacy of an employee’s home.
Our society must turn around this deadly and costly trend of increased tobacco use. Pivot’s research paper contains a deeper dive into this trend and how to reverse it. Download the whitepaper here: https://go.pivot.co/covid-19-anxiety-stress-and-tobacco-addiction
Additionally, the team also recently released a report “Attitudes Towards Tobacco Use in the Workplace” which has many compelling insights and data. To access this report, please visit: https://go.pivot.co/2022-benchmarking-report
Pivot is a digital health company that empowers individuals to embrace wellness and enables corporations and health plans to improve their population's health. Pivot’s first product addresses tobacco use, the leading cause of preventable illness and death in the US. Pivot addresses cessation for all forms of tobacco (combustible, vaporized and smokeless) and delivers a mobile app experience complete with tailored behavior change content, pharmacotherapy, an FDA-cleared carbon monoxide (CO) breath sensor, a supportive peer community, and a personal tobacco treatment coach. For more information, please visit: https://pivot.co/