World Health Organization  |  July 30, 2022

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COVID-19 has caused severe social and economic disruptions and taken an incalculable toll on human health. The effects of the disease have been both direct, in terms of morbidity and mortality from the virus, and indirect, through strained health and social systems and the depression of global economies. The adoption of public health measures, including travel restrictions, physical distancing, and stay-at-home directives, has significantly changed how goods are produced, purchased, and consumed, including unhealthy commodities such as alcohol and tobacco. Throughout the pandemic, changes in the consumption of alcohol and tobacco have been observed, coupled with the increased likelihood of severe infections of COVID-19 among those who consume alcohol and use tobacco. In response, and to contend with these changes, countries in the WHO South-East Asia Region have implemented a range of policy approaches affecting the acceptability, availability and affordability of alcohol and tobacco.

This policy brief analysis the policy measures and regulatory changes to tobacco and alcohol during the COVID-19 pandemic in the WHO South-East Asia Region. This brief provides the findings from each of the 11 countries along with a synthesis of evidence collected during the pandemic.

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