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COVID-induced stress worsened habit among 34% of smokers: ICICI Lombard Survey

COVID-induced stress worsened habit among 34% of smokers: ICICI Lombard Survey

COVID-induced stress worsened habit among 34% of smokers: ICICI Lombard Survey
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By CNBCTV18.com May 30, 2022 10:56:02 PM IST (Published)

During the pandemic, 34 percent of all smokers increased their cigarette smoking, primarily owing to stress (77 percent), followed by boredom (67 percent).

Insurance company ICICI Lombard found in a survey that 34 percent of smokers intensified their habit during the pandemic, with 77 percent citing stress as the reason and 67 percent citing boredom.

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The survey was conducted from May 17 to May 23, 2022 — ahead of World No Tobacco Day on May 31 — and had 785 responses. It was aimed at finding critical trends across cities with a high smoking population, examining the impact of COVID-related stress on smokers, and deciphering the perceived difference between traditional and e-cigarette smokers.
Youngsters began smoking due to curiosity and influence, whereas millennials report stress as the key motivator. According to the poll, the average age to start smoking is 25 years.The findings reported that sixty percent of all respondents began smoking between the age group of 18 and 25.
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The impact of COVID
“Fear of COVID impact getting serious due to smoking helped 29 percent respondents to reduce smoking/ motivated for quitting,” the report stated.
During the pandemic, the proclivity to smoke had a mixed influence. According to the study, 29 percent of respondents reduced or were motivated to quit smoking due to the concern of being adversely damaged by COVID. 
“48 percent of smokers reduced their cigarette intake. Among individuals in this category, 60 percent cited the fear of increased risk owing to the pandemic, while 32 percent reduced or quit smoking due to cigarette shortages,” as per the observations in the report.
Efforts toward quitting
According to the poll, respondents quit smoking four times per year on average, and 77 percent had tried to quit in the past two years.
It can take up to an average of eight years for a smoker to quit smoking.
In India, 83 percent of those attempting to quit were from the north, 75 percent from the east, 75 percent from the west, and 72 percent from the south.
Furthermore, 86 percent of smokers who smoke once a day have attempted to quit, and 89 percent of respondents identified varied information about the risks of smoking as their incentive to quit.
“61 percent of the respondents mentioned health or appearance as the reason to quit smoking, followed by 43 percent citing the fear of  COVID and 42 percent stated its ill effect on family members as the reason” the report stated.
According to the survey, women (71 percent) appear to be more concerned about the health effects of cigarettes than men (57 percent). 
Hurdles along the way
The report further suggested that in the previous two years, 85 percent of respondents with pre-existing health issues attempted to stop smoking, compared to 71 percent with no such medical history. Out of these respondents, 85 percent of people polled found it difficult to quit.
The poll also includes responses from non-smokers and former smokers who have successfully quit smoking. The discovery emphasises that 24 percent of respondents were frequent smokers who stopped within the previous two years.
Additionally, it found that 80 percent of those who stopped said that their family members were aware of their smoking habits. 
Willpower is cited as the most difficult barrier to quitting by 50 percent of responders. In order to quit, 85 percent of respondents stated that they got assistance and support from family members.
Perception of smokers towards health insurance
The survey identified that, overall, 79 percent of respondents had active health insurance, and 55 percent want to purchase one within the next six months.
The number of respondents between the ages of 21 and 30 who have health insurance is lower, at 70 percent, compared to 85 percent of those aged 30 and over.
It also found that only 72 percent of respondents in Tier 2 cities had health insurance, compared to 85 percent in metro areas.
People with pre-existing medical issues were more prone to having health insurance, at 90 percent.
The survey empasized that the respondents who are having difficulty quitting smoking are more conscious of their smoking behaviours while purchasing a health insurance coverage with 83 percent of respondents stating that they acknowledged their smoking behaviour while purchasing health insurance.
Because of their smoking habit, 81 percent are prepared to spend any additional amount, on average up to 20 percent more, the study added.
Although the study also acknowledges that the "customers consider protecting themselves from all lifestyle diseases when purchasing health insurance, rather than only tobacco-related harms".
Customers consider protecting themselves from all lifestyle diseases when investing in health insurance, with cashless treatment and cost being some of the key factors to consider when obtaining a health insurance policy, followed by hospital networks.
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