Introduction: We examined the potential impact of COVID-19 on trends in volume sales of non-cigarette combustible and smokeless tobacco products in the United States.
Aims and methods: We analyzed monthly national sales for cigars, smokeless tobacco, pipe, and roll-your-own tobacco during June 2019-June 2021. Data were from the U.S Department of the Treasury. Interrupted time-series were used to measure associations of the COVID-19 "shock" (taken as June 2020 or 6 months after the first diagnosis of COVID-19 in the United States) and volume sales. Negative binomial regression was used to evaluate associations between volume sales and changes in community mobility.
Results: Within interrupted time-series analysis, the shock of the COVID-19 pandemic was associated with an initial increase in the number of little cigars sold by 11.43 million sticks (p < .01), with no significant sustained change in trend. The COVID-19 shock was also associated with an initial increase in large cigar volume sales by 59.02 million sticks, followed by a subsequent decrease by 32.57 million sticks per month (p = .005). Every 10% reduction in mobility to retail stores was significantly associated with reduced volume sales of little cigars (IRR = 0.84, 95% CI, 0.71 to 0.98) and large cigars (IRR = 0.92, 95% CI, 0.88 to 0.96). Other findings were statistically nonsignificant.
Conclusions: COVID-19 was associated with increased volume sales for cigars and there was a significant association between reduced mobility to points of sale and reduced cigar volume sales. Intensified efforts are needed to prioritize evidence-based tobacco prevention and control efforts amidst the pandemic.
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