A study published by Santé Publique France this Tuesday, December 13, 2022 shows that smoking has started to rise again in 2021. The national agency does not exclude “an impact of the social and economic crisis linked to Covid-19 “.
Smoking, which fell on an “unprecedented scale” among adults between 2014 and 2019, started to increase again in 2021 after having stagnated in 2020, according to the results of a study by Santé Publique France published on Tuesday 13 December 2022.
Daily smoking on the rise among women and the poorly educated
In 2021, in metropolitan France, more than three out of 10 adults aged 18-75 said they smoked (31.9%), and a quarter daily (25.3%).
Compared to 2020, these figures show no significant variations. But, compared to 2019, before the Covid crisis, the prevalence of smoking has increased (30.4% at the time).
Although overall it has not changed “significantly” (25.3% in 2021 against 24% in 2019), daily smoking has, for its part, increased among women (23% against 20.7 %) and among those with few or no qualifications (32% versus 29%).
An impact of the Covid-19 crisis?
The data comes from the Public Health France barometer, a telephone survey of a random sample of 18-85 year olds residing in France (24,514 people in mainland France, 6,519 overseas), conducted between February and December 2021.
To explain these results, Public Health France judges that “an impact of the social and economic crisis linked to Covid-19 cannot be excluded”.
Among women, the increase in smoking could be linked in part to the stronger impact of this crisis for them, according to the study.
And the psychological, economic and social consequences of the Covid crisis have been “more marked” in disadvantaged populations, where “cigarettes can be perceived as a tool for managing stress or overcoming daily difficulties”.
Decline in daily smoking among 18-24 year olds
Only one result is considered “encouraging”, but to be confirmed: the drop in daily smoking among men aged 18-24, consistent with a downward trend in recent years among adolescents.
In addition to social inequalities that are still very marked (more daily smokers among the unemployed or workers in particular), regional differences persist.
Occitanie (28.5%) and Paca (29.1%) had a higher prevalence of daily smoking in 2021 than the rest of France, Ile-de-France and Pays-de-la-Loire lower (22.4%). The proportion of smokers in the Overseas Territories is lower than that of mainland France.
Tobacco, the leading cause of preventable death in France
For electronic cigarettes, use (6.7%) and daily vaping (5%) increased among adults in 2021 compared to 2020 (respectively 5.4% and 4.3%), but the proportion of 18-75 year olds to have experienced it remained stable (38.7%).
Tobacco remains the leading cause of preventable death in France, with some 75,000 deaths each year.
The objective set by the authorities is to achieve a tobacco-free generation by 2032.