Sponsored Feature On World No-Tobacco Day: Does Smoking Put You at Greater Risk of COVID-19?
World No Tobacco Day is observed every year on May 31. The day helps raise awareness about the many risks associated with the intake of tobacco and regular smoking. Tobacco use is a major risk factor for cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, cancer, and many other debilitating health conditions.This year the day falls amid a global pandemic and the situation is more worrisome. According to the World Health Organization, smokers are more vulnerable to Covid-19 infection as the act of smoking involves fingers and possibly contaminated cigarettes come in contact with lips. This increases the possibility of transmission of virus from hand to mouth.
But that's not it. Smokers are also at higher risk of catching more severe Covid-19 infection as they may already have lung disease and/or their lung capacity is already reduced.
World No Tobacco Day: Are smokers at higher risk of catching Covid-19?
Dr Sudha Kansal, Senior Consultant Pulmonology and Chest Physician, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, says that the obvious answer to this question is a yes!
As per the statistics provided by the WHO, every year more than 8 million die from tobacco use. Out of this, around 7 million die because of the direct impact of smoking, and others because of passive smoking, she says.
Smoking any kind of tobacco reduces lung capacity and increases the risk of many respiratory infections and can increase the severity of respiratory diseases. COVID-19 is an infectious disease that primarily attacks the lungs. Smoking impairs lung function making it harder for the body to fight off coronaviruses and other respiratory diseases. Available research suggests that smokers are at higher risk of developing severe COVID-19 outcomes and death, as per a statement by the World Health Organization.
Tips for smokers to quit smoking, especially during COVID-19
We are constantly trying to make our patients, who smoke, understand that they might have caught the infection because of smoking. Patients are required to be hospitalised for at least 10 days after they test positive for coronavirus. So, we try to tell the patients that if they can survive without smoking for these 10 days, then it is not as difficult to quit smoking in full entirety, says Dr Kansal.
She agrees that patients often find it very tough to quit smoking and keep coming back with an inclination to smoke. For these people, nicotine replacement therapies like nicotine gums and patches are available that can help. “However, given the current situation, it is the best time that smokers stopped smoking,” she asserts.
To quit smoking, identifying triggers can be helpful. According to nicotex, common triggers when people feel the need to smoke are stress, with a cup of tea or coffee, after a meal, to kill boredom, while driving, during work breaks, with alcohol and during bedtime. Take small and deep breaths. Go for a walk. Call a friend and keep a stress ball in your hand. These are effective ways to distract yourself from the urge to smoke.
This World No Tobacco Day, pledge to quit today and right now!
(Dr Sudha Kansal, Senior Consultant Pulmonology and Chest Physician, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals)
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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 haven't smoke for 12-hours, carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal
In 2-12 weeks:
If you quit smoking, then within 2-12 weeks, circulation improves and your lung function increases
In 1-9 months:
In between a months time to 9 months duration, coughing and shortness of breath decrease for a person who has quit smoking
Within 1 year:
In 1 years time, 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