Striving to advance global tobacco research by investing in institutions and projects in countries where most smokers live.
The COVID-19 pandemic presents an unprecedented global health challenge that has highlighted existing gaps in health care. COVID-related deaths and disease in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) are now equal to deaths and disease in member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and will soon overtake them. This crisis must be addressed urgently and through broad support. Consistent with our charitable purposes, the Foundation made several grants totaling $2.1 million that address pressing humanitarian needs created by COVID-19. Additionally, we are supporting research projects that look at the nexus of COVID-19, smoking, and nicotine use.
To determine how the COVID-19 lockdowns affected tobacco users, the Foundation commissioned a flash poll that explored the relationship between social distancing and health. The poll found that the mental and physical toll of the lockdowns was profound for millions of smokers who increased their tobacco intake as a way to cope with the stress.
There were 6,801 tobacco and nicotine users surveyed in five countries (United States, United Kingdom, Italy, South Africa, and India). More than two-thirds of the smokers and vapers normally rely on tobacco and nicotine as their main tool to cope with stress and anxiety, and the poll found a nearly 40% increased use of those products, which could equate to elevated use by more than 50 million smokers in the five countries polled.
tobacco and nicotine users surveyed in five countries (United States, United Kingdom, Italy, South Africa, and India).
30% of respondents said smoking will increase risk of getting seriously ill from COVID-19, while 29% of respondents said vaping.
A special edition of the journal Drugs and Alcohol Today explored progress toward the goals outlined in the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC). The issue also described strategies for improving the FCTC and its implementation. The peer-reviewed articles were written by Foundation staff, grantees, and other prominent experts.
The India report provides a glimpse of the tobacco landscape in the country. Because India is one of the world’s largest producers and consumers of tobacco, understanding this landscape and the opportunities to transform it―both literally and figuratively―have never been more important. This is the first in a series of country reports that will fill key knowledge gaps in our collective understanding of tobacco production and use, especially in LMICs.