As we can see, a significant percentage of people in all the countries we surveyed have upped their tobacco purchases.
On average, 15% of respondents said they’d bought more tobacco products in the last week than they normally would.
Spain and Italy top the list, while Australia brings up the rear. We wanted to try and find out why this was the case.
To start, we looked at smoking rate by country, and there was next to no correlation. For example, Germany has the highest rate of smoking, while Australia has the lowest, yet they sit together as the least likely populations to be buying more tobacco..
What about when we consider the number of Covid-19 cases and deaths? This fits with Spain and Italy’s positions, but the UK and Germany also have fairly high numbers, and they’re far less likely to be buying more tobacco.
Where we did find some correlation was in the strictness of a country’s lockdown. Using Oxford University’s COVID-19 Government Response Tracker, we found that a country’s stringency level on measures had the strongest correlation with increased tobacco purchases of all the factors we looked at.
In other words, the more stringent the rules, the higher the number of people buying more tobacco products than usual.
This is no surprise. Being stuck indoors, bored, and spending less time in places where smoking is not allowed is extremely conducive to smoking more.
There are obviously other factors at play, such as culture and access to these products, but the data suggests lockdowns, while aiming to stop the spread of Covid-19, could be causing us to smoke more than usual.
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Brandwatch Response Team
¹ Note: All surveys are subject to a wide range of potential sources of error. On the basis of the historical record of the polls at recent general elections, there is a 9 in 10 chance that the true value of a survey result lies within 4 points of the estimates provided by this survey, and a 2 in 3 chance that they lie within 2 points.