Use of electronic cigarettes and heated tobacco products during the Covid-19 pandemic

S. Gallus*, C. Stival, G. Carreras, G. Gorini, A. Amerio, M. McKee, A. Odone, P.A. van den Brandt, L. Spizzichino, R. Pacifici, A. Lugo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Only a few studies investigated changes in electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) and heated tobacco product (HTP) use during pandemic restrictions. We conducted a web-based cross-sectional study of a representative sample of 6,003 Italian adults during the strictest phase of the Covid-19 lockdown (April-May 2020). Participants were asked to report changes in e-cigarette and HTP use compared to before the pandemic. E-cigarette users increased from 8.1% to 9.1% and HTP users from 4.0% to 4.5%. Among e-cigarette non-users before lockdown, 1.8% started using e-cigarettes during lockdown. New users were more frequently younger (p for trend 0.001), men (odds ratio, OR 1.56; 95% confidence interval, CI: 1.03-2.34), cannabis users (OR 2.35; 95% CI: 1.33-4.13), gamblers (OR 3.34; 95% CI: 2.18-5.11) and individuals with anxiety symptoms (OR 1.58; 95% CI: 1.00-2.52). 1.0% of HTP non-users started using it during lockdown. New users were less frequently current than never cigarette smokers (OR 0.19; 95% CI: 0.06-0.61) and more frequently gamblers (OR 2.23; 95% CI: 1.22-4.07). E-cigarettes and HTPs played little role as smoking cessation tools for hardcore smokers but rather provided opportunities for young never smokers to engage in socially acceptable activities, perhaps reflecting the obstacles they faced in obtaining other addictive substances during confinement.
Original languageEnglish
Article number702
Number of pages5
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jan 2022




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