Tobacco & COVID-19 | The herald


The herald

Are you a tobacco user considering quitting during the pandemic? What impact does COVID-19 have on your body if you are a tobacco smoker? Hello and welcome to Science in 5, I am Vismita Gupta-Smith (VGS) and these are the WHO conversations on science. Today we are chatting with Dr Hebe Gouda (DHG) about tobacco and COVID-19. Welcome, Hebe. Let’s start with the impact of COVID-19 on the body of a tobacco user.

DHG: We now know that the evidence strongly points to smokers being up to 50% more likely to suffer more from COVID-19 disease. This means that smokers are more likely to have more severe symptoms, more likely to be hospitalized, more likely to be admitted to intensive care units and to need help with breathing and / or ventilation. Ultimately, smokers are more likely to die from COVID-19 than someone who has never smoked. In general, we know that tobacco has many harmful effects on people’s health, which cause heart disease, diabetes, lung conditions like chronic lung disease, and cancers like lung cancer. And all of these conditions too, we now know, make people more vulnerable to COVID-19 disease.

VGS: Hebe, we know how harmful tobacco is to our health. And yet, during this pandemic, we have seen the tobacco industry come up with new and innovative ways to get more and more people addicted to tobacco. Tell us about these industry efforts.

DHG: Of course. Yes. The tobacco industry and other industries involved in the manufacturing and marketing of electronic cigarettes, for example, have been and continue to be very active during the pandemic. Particularly in times of lockdown, for example, they have ensured that consumers have continued access to these harmful products through contactless delivery, for example, or curbside depots. And what is of particular concern about these forms of access is that minors, who would not normally have access or have difficulty accessing these products, could potentially be made easier through this delivery system. without contact. We also know that they were offering promotional discounts, appropriating the #StayAtHome hashtag on social media for their own marketing purposes, and claiming that these nicotine and tobacco electronic products were good companions for working from home, and so on. On a more global strategic level, they’ve really worked hard to be part of the solution to the pandemic by donating items like ventilators to countries, as well as other personal protective equipment and masks with their own logos. , and so on. Meanwhile, remain completely silent about their role in the more than eight million tobacco deaths each year.

VGS: Hebe, a lot of people have decided to quit smoking during the pandemic. Tell us what happens to our body when we stop smoking.

DHG: The benefits to our body when we quit smoking and smoking in general are almost immediate. Within 20 minutes of your last cigarette, your heart rate and blood pressure have improved. Within 12 hours, the levels of carbon monoxide in your blood will return to normal. Within two to 12 weeks, you can expect your lung function and circulation to improve. And in fact, within one to four years of quitting, your risk of dying is about half that of a current smoker. So the best time to quit is now.

VGS: The best time to quit is now. It was Dr. Hebe Gouda who told us about tobacco and COVID-19. Thank you very much for joining us. Until next time then. Stay safe, stay healthy, and stay true to science. – WHO

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