Photo Credit: Nicolas Alejandro; Christian Siedler via Flickr

There has been a significant increase in smoking—both cigarettes and cannabis—during the corona crisis, according to data presented Tuesday at a conference of the School of Public Health of the University of Haifa. The data presented show that almost 30% of cigarette smokers reported smoking more and about 35% of cannabis smokers reported smoking more.

Various studies were presented by school researchers on the Corona crisis in Israel. Prof. Lital-Keinan Boker, director of the National Center for Disease Control at the Health Ministry and a senior researcher at the School of Public Health at the University of Haifa, presented data from a survey in which 2,580 participants were questioned on two dates: the end of the first wave of the corona pandemic, the opening of the economy and removal of restrictions (5/13/2020 to 9/17/2020); and the beginning of the restrictions of the second wave, with the increase in recurrent morbidity, ending in the second lockdown (9/17/2020 to 7/8/2020).


The results of the survey show that 21.7% reported avoiding or postponing medical treatment at the HMOs due to fear of contracting the coronavirus; 4.4% reported delaying going to the hospital for urgent medical treatment for fear of the coronavirus; and 13.9% reported having some difficulty finding treatment.

Regarding the level of the public’s general anxiety level, the survey found that during the second lockdown period 12.8% reported a state of general anxiety, compared to 7.7% who reported anxiety at the end of the first lockdown when restrictions had been removed.

The survey also found that 21.1% reported a decrease in sleep quality; 28.6% reported that their weight had increased since the onset of the corona pandemic; and 28.6% reported that they smoked more.

Dr. Sharon Schnittman also showed an increase in smoking among cannabis smokers. In a study she conducted with Dr. Nehama Lewis of the Department of Communication, Dr. Dennis Rosenberg of the School of Public Health, and in collaboration with the moderators of the Cannabis Magazine forum among 755 cannabis users over age 18 who smoke at least once a month, found that 35% of them reported smoking more cannabis during the crisis, which constitutes “an increase in cannabis use,” according to Dr. Schnittman.


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