COVID19: Cypriots smoked more during Lockdown I

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Anxiety and boredom due to the first lockdown to stem the spread of coronavirus in March pushed Cypriots to smoke twice as many cigarettes as they did before having to stay at home.

Respondents to an international survey, with the participation of the University of Cyprus Psychology Department, cited heightened anxiety and stress due to the lockdown and the impact of Covid-19 as reasons for their increased smoking.

Also, the relative freedom of working at home and have an excuse to step outside were other factors mentioned.

In Cyprus, according to participants, the daily average number of cigarettes consumed by a smoker prior to the pandemic was 10 but jumped to 20 during the lockdown in March that lasted until late May.

According to the survey, stress was the main reason behind the increase as 29.5% of participants said their income significantly reduced while 7.5% did not have access to basic essential products.

Researchers are still going through the data, but findings so far are similar to those in the other 78 countries surveyed.

The survey said people exhibited increased levels of stress, depression while seeing their wellness challenged, which in turn worsens mental health.

The results suggest that generally, respondents were moderately mentally healthy at the time of a population-wide lockdown.

The highest level of mental health difficulties was found in approximately 10% of the population who displayed negative emotions, anxiety, depressive behaviour, and pessimistic perception.

However, another 50% were described as having an average mental health state.

This study systematically examined factors that are known to affect mental health. Two factors were found to consistently predict worse mental health outcomes:

  • The loss of revenue compared to pre-lockdown levels.
  • Lack of access to basic supplies.

The survey revealed that people with a higher education level were better equipped to handle the situation while results were better in countries where there is social support infrastructure for people affected by the lockdown.

The said study was recently published in the scientific journal PLOS ONE, under the title “Impact of COVID-19 pandemic on mental health: An international study”.