Smoking tobacco is known to damage the lungs and airways causing a range of severe respiratory problems. Smoking is also detrimental to the immune system; this makes smokers more vulnerable to infectious diseases. Several studies have highlighted that smokers are more likely than non-smokers to contract influenza and have more severe symptoms.
A recent systematic review of studies on COVID-19 in relation to smoking highlights that smoking is most likely associated with the negative progression and adverse outcomes of COVID-19.
By smoking, you are not only putting yourself at greater risk of developing severe disease from the COVID-19 virus, but those around you exposed to second hand smoke, including children, are also at increased risk. Furthermore, the repetitive hand to mouth movement provides an easy route of entry for the virus, putting smokers at greater risk of contracting COVID-19.
In light of this COVID-19 pandemic, there has never been a more important time to stop smoking; not just for your own health but to protect those around you.
Remember, it is never too late to quit!
- Once you quit smoking, your body will repair itself progressively; more immediate benefits include:
- Elimination of carbon monoxide from the body after 48 hours
- Clearing out of mucus and other smoking debris from the lungs
- Relaxation of the bronchial tubes, making breathing easier after 72 hours
- Improvement in blood circulation making physical activity like walking and running easier after 2 to 12 weeks
If you can’t quit, step down!
The role of vaping and COVID-19 is not yet clear and research indicates that any form of smoking will affect respiratory function. However, if you find the idea of quitting “cold turkey” as being too difficult, Public Health advises a step down approach:
If you smoke or have a loved one who smokes, now is the time to Stub it. Stop it. And get #CovidFit.
There are various tools to help stop smoking efforts, such as e-cigarettes, nicotine patches, tablets (Champix) etc. Some people prefer to go “cold turkey”, but research shows you are four times more likely to quit with additional guidance and support. Public Health recommends:
- accessing our free GHA smoke cessation service (200 07910)
- asking your local pharmacy for “stepping-down” advice
- downloading a SmokeFree app to understand your smoking patterns
- growing your support network and connecting with others in the same position
- checking CovidFit.gi for more information
Health Promotion, Ministry of Public Health, Gibraltar