BACKGROUND: The COVID-19 pandemic might impact substance use behaviours around the globe. In this study, we investigate changes in alcohol and tobacco use in the second half of 2020 in countries of the eastern part of the WHO European Region.
METHODS: Self-reported changes in alcohol and tobacco use among 11,295 adults from 18 countries in the eastern part of the WHO European Region were collected between August 2020 and January 2021. The non-probabilistic sample was weighted for age, gender, and education. For each country, proportions of respondents reporting a decrease, no change, or increase in substance use over the past three months were examined, and multinomial regression models were used to test associations with age, gender, patterns and past-year alcohol use.
RESULTS: In most countries, about half of the respondents indicating past-year alcohol or tobacco use reported no change in their substance use. Of those alcohol users who reported changes in their alcohol use, a larger proportion reported a decrease than an increase in most countries. The opposite was true for tobacco use. Women, young adults, and past-year harmful alcohol users were identified as being more likely to change their substance use behaviour.
CONCLUSION: We found diverging overall trends for alcohol and tobacco use in the second half of 2020. The patterns of change vary according to age, gender, and past-year substance use. Individuals at risk to increase their substance use during the COVID-19 pandemic requires most policy considerations.
Field of Science*
- 3.3 Health sciences
- 1.3. Anonymously reviewed scientific article published in a journal with an international editorial board and is available in another indexed database