Until a few years ago, the proportion of smokers in Germany was falling every year. But since the beginning of the pandemic, more people have been smoking in Germany again, a long-term study now shows. How to get rid of it.

Although most people are familiar with the health damage caused by smoking, more and more people are turning to cigarettes. Since the beginning of the corona pandemic, there have been more smokers in Germany again. This is shown by the results of a representative long-term study.

The so-called “German survey on smoking behavior” (short: Debra) examines the tobacco consumption of Germans. Since 2016, scientists at Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf have been researching how many people smoke cigarettes. Random oral interviews are conducted every two months to find out how much tobacco or e-cigarettes are consumed in Germany.

According to the study, 32.9 percent of Germans currently smoke tobacco. This is a significant increase from a total share of 29.4 percent at the beginning of 2019.

The researchers also presented their results by age group: Tobacco consumption has increased, particularly among people over the age of 25, from 27.9 to 36.1 percent.

However, the scientists cannot say exactly why more and more people are turning to cigarettes or e-cigarettes, since the specific reasons for smoking are not part of the survey.

However, a connection with psychological problems is conceivable: According to a study by the researchers from Düsseldorf, smokers in particular, who reach for cigarettes very often, report suffering from illnesses such as depression or anxiety disorders.

In an interview, the head of the long-term study, Daniel Kotz, said that the psychological stress could also be a result of the pandemic. However, the research team also notes in the study that these people are often more motivated to quit smoking again.

According to the Debra study, however, the consumption of alternative tobacco products such as e-cigarettes is significantly lower: in 2019, 1.1 percent of Germans still used e-cigarettes, now it is only 0.7 percent. The number of people who smoke water pipes such as shisha has also fallen.

Quitting smoking is difficult for many people, especially those who try to quit without professional help. A 2016 study showed that breaking habit is one of the most important criteria for successfully quitting smoking.

Accordingly, the smoke-free program of the Federal Center for Health Education (BZgA) recommends therapeutically accompanied methods such as behavioral therapy or hypnosis. Nicotine replacement therapy is also recommended.

But these therapies are not available everywhere and are only partially covered by statutory or private health insurance companies. The BZgA therefore has the following tips: