Smokers are at higher risk of COVID-19

People should take this as 21 day Corona challenge for quitting, say Experts

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New Delhi: The coronavirus pandemic is evolving too rapidly for conclusive evidence to have emerged on the impact of smoking on an individual’s susceptibility to COVID-19 infection. However, there is overwhelming evidence that people who smoke are at higher risk of getting lung and chest infections, which can be caused by other respiratory viruses (such as influenza) and also bacteria (for instance, tuberculosis.) This means that it is more likely that people who smoke have a higher risk of getting COVID-19 compared to people who don’t smoke.

There is growing evidence to suggest that people who smoke are likely to be more severely impacted by COVID-19 if they do become infected, because smoking damages the lungs so that they don’t work as well. For example, lungs naturally produce mucus, but people who smoke have more and thicker mucus that is hard to clean out of the lungs. This mucus clogs the lungs and is prone to becoming infected. Smoking also affects the immune system, making it harder to fight infection.

Dr Vishal Rao, Member of High Powered Committee on Tobacco Control , (GoK) Said “We know that people who smoke are at higher risk of respiratory tract (including lung) infections, which puts them in most vulnerable group having higher risk of getting COVID-19” he also added “We do know that exposure to Second-hand smoke also damages lungs and depresses the immune system, increasing susceptibility to chest and respiratory infections. It is very important that people who smoke don’t do in presence of a non-smoker. People are indoors mostly these days and chances they might want to smoke in front of a family member especially kids putting them at higher risk of getting COVID-19” he further added “It is always a good time to quit smoking! People should take this as 21 day Corona challenge for quitting”

Speaking on the issue Dr Prathima Murthy from NIMHANS Said “There is growing evidence that smoking is a risk for Covid 19. Smoking worsens lung function and reduces immunity. Smokers who develop Covid 19 infection have more complications and greater risk of fatality. Even if a person is not affected by Covid, it is a good time to stop smoking. This improves immunity and can improve lung function within a few months. Apart from reducing risks from Covid, there are many other benefits on the lungs, heart and other parts of the body. Quit smoking and all forms of tobacco use now. If you need support to quit, get in touch with a health care provider, call the tobacco quit-line (1800112356)- or give a missed call to the mCessation tobacco service on 011-22901701”

Maya Annie Elias, Project Lead, Tobacco free Cities, Movement for Alternatives and Youth Awareness (MAYA) said “People who smoke have the tendency to share the cigarettes with each other which puts them at higher risk of getting infected. The vendors defy the law which prohibits sale of loose cigarettes which is also another serious cause of concern. Enforcement officers must ensure that the ban on sale of loose cigarette is immediately enforced.”