Alcohol and tobacco use in a tuberculosis treatment cohort during South Africa’s covid-19 sales bans: A case series
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© 2021 The Authors. Published by MDPI Publishing.
Background: South Africa temporarily banned alcohol and tobacco sales for about 20 weeks during the COVID-19 lockdown. We described changes in alcohol and tobacco consumption after implementation of these restrictions among a small number of participants in a tuberculosis treatment cohort.
Method: The timeline follow-back procedure and Fägerstrom test for nicotine dependence was used to collect monthly alcohol and tobacco use information. We report changes in heavy drinking days (HDD), average amount of absolute alcohol (AA) consumed per drinking day, and cigarettes smoked daily during the alcohol and tobacco ban compared to use prior to the ban.
Results: Of the 61 participants for whom we have pre-ban and within-ban alcohol use information, 17 (27.9%) reported within-ban alcohol use. On average, participants reported one less HDD per fortnight (interquartile range (IQR): −4, 1), but their amount of AA consumed increased by 37.4 g per drinking occasion (IQR: −65.9 g, 71.0 g). Of 53 participants who reported pre-ban tobacco use, 17 (32.1%) stopped smoking during the ban. The number of participants smoking >10 cigarettes per day decreased from 8 to 1.
Conclusions: From these observations, we hypothesize that policies restricting alcohol and tobacco availability seem to enable some individuals to reduce their consumption. However, these appear to have little effect on the volume of AA consumed among individuals with more harmful patterns of drinking in the absence of additional behavior change interventions.
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