Experts Corner: Impact Of Smoking On Fighting Coronavirus
Dr P. Raghu Ram, President, The Association of Surgeons of India
Smoking is a vitally important public health issue that is gaining renewed attention in the COVID 19 era. There is ample evidence to suggest that those who smoke are at a significantly higher risk of developing serious life threatening complications with COVID-19, compared to non-smokers. Equally, smoking is a big risk factor for Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs) like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer and respiratory disease. These diseases indeed place people at far greater risk for developing severe illness when affected with COVID-19. Also, those who smoke are more likely to be infected with COVID 19 as smoking involves fingers touching the lips, which is in itself a risk factor. Furthermore, there is also a possibility for contaminated cigarettes to transmit the virus from hands to the mouth.
Dr Randeep Guleria, Director, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS)
Chronic respiratory illnesses are a risk factor for causing more severe COVID-19 infection. Smoking is also a risk factor as it causes an impairment in the defence mechanism of lungs.
Dr Ravindra Mehta, Chief Of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Apollo Hospitals, Bengaluru
It is a known fact that active smoking can harm the lungs of the person, not just that it impairs the ability of the person to fight even the smallest of the infections like viral. And as we now know that the novel coronavirus is affecting the lungs of people majorly and impacting their immunity, so the chances of a smoker winning the battle against COVID-19 is very grim as the person’s health is already very poor due to smoking. Another important thing is passive smoking, if a smoker is smoking inside the house and the smoke is being inhaled by people around that person, then even their health is severely impacted and so as their ability to fight the new virus.
Dr Prabhakar C Koregol, Consultant Interventional Cardiologist, Fortis, Bengaluru
Smokers are likely to be more vulnerable to COVID-19 and if a person already has a smoking-related disease like COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) then chances of having coronavirus is very high.
ABOUT THE CAMPAIGN
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), smokers are likely to be more vulnerable to COVID-19 as the act of smoking means that fingers (and possibly contaminated cigarettes) are in contact with lips which increases the possibility of transmission of the virus from hand to mouth. Smokers may also already have lung disease or reduced lung capacity which would greatly increase the risk of serious illness. Conditions that increase oxygen needs or reduce the ability of the body to use it properly will put patients at higher risk of serious lung conditions such as pneumonia. (Reference Source: WHO)
A matter of grave concern is that there are more than 1.3 million deaths every year in India due to tobacco-related health issues, according to the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) done by World Health Organization (WHO) mention year. Of them, 1 million deaths can be attributed to smoking and the rest to the use of smokeless tobacco products. Nearly 267 million, or 29 per cent Indians aged 15 and above, currently use tobacco in some form. (Source: Global Adult Tobacco Survey 2016-17)
Therefore, there has never been a better time to quit smoking. Nicotex, a brand committed towards helping people give up smoking, aims to educate smokers about their high vulnerable to COVID-19 and inspire them to quit smoking. World No Tobacco Day, celebrated on May 31 every year, provides a perfect opportunity to start your journey towards a smoke-free life.
#QuitKarona is an initiative in that direction. The campaign aims to highlight how apart from all its other ill-effects, smoking can reduce a person's ability to fight COVID-19, which can prove to be fatal in the current pandemic.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF GIVING UP SMOKING
Within 20 minutes:
Within 20 minutes of quitting smoking, your heart rate and blood pressure drop
Within 12 hours:
And if you have not smoked for 12-hours, carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal
In 2-12 weeks:
Circulation improves and your lung function increases
In 1-9 months:
Coughing and shortness of breath decrease for a person who has quit smoking
Within 1 year:
Risk of coronary heart disease is about half that of a smoker's
In 5 years:
Stroke risk is reduced to that of a nonsmoker 5 to 15 years after quitting smoking
In 10 years time:
Risk of lung cancer falls to about half of that of a smoker and your risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, cervix, and pancreas decreases
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