Over 30 percent of people in Japan who live with smokers said they have been exposed to more secondhand smoke since the start of the novel coronavirus pandemic due to the rise of teleworking, the National Cancer Center Japan said Monday in releasing the results of a survey.

Among 1,000 smokers and the same number of nonsmokers surveyed in March, 33.7 percent of 258 nonsmoking respondents who live with smokers saw an increase in secondhand smoke exposure, the center said.

Kimiyasu Hirano, a researcher at the center, said the fact that people are spending more time at home raises "concerns about adverse health effects" for passive smokers, who are at risk of disease, disability and death.

Meanwhile, 25.3% of the smokers surveyed said they wanted to quit to reduce the likelihood of developing severe symptoms of COVID-19. According to the World Health Organization, smokers are more at risk of severe COVID than nonsmokers.

Eighteen percent of the smokers said they smoked more since the start of the pandemic early last year, whereas 11.4 percent smoked less. It also found that 49.4 percent cited stress for the increase in their nicotine habit.

"Many of those currently still smoking are likely to find it difficult to quit," Hirano said.

The survey also asked respondents what they thought of the temporary closure of public smoking areas in parks and stations due to concerns over people smoking while taking off their face masks.

A total of 59.4% of all respondents agreed that the virus is more likely to spread in indoor and outdoor smoking areas, while 58.3 percent backed the temporary closure of the smoking spots.

All of the 1,000 smokers surveyed responded, while of the 1,000 nonsmokers, 818 gave valid responses. Of the 818 nonsmokers, 560 said they do not live with smokers.