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Smokers are 50% liable to suffer Covid-19, says WHO




The World Health Organisation says smokers are up to 50 per cent more likely to suffer worse from COVID-19 infection.


Speaking during an interview session tagged ‘Science in 5’ posted on WHO’s website, Dr. Hebe Gouda of WHO’s No Tobacco Unit Project Office noted that smokers are more likely to have worse symptoms, more likely to be hospitalised, more likely to be admitted into intensive care units and require help with breathing and/or ventilation.


Dr. Gouda added that ultimately, smokers are more likely to die from COVID-19 disease than someone who has never smoked.


“In general, we know that tobacco has many harms to people’s health that causes heart disease, diabetes, lung conditions like chronic lung disease and cancers like lung cancer. And all these conditions too, we now know, make people more vulnerable to COVID-19 disease,” she said.


She said despite the pandemic, the tobacco industry is still involved in the manufacturing and marketing of e-cigarettes.


“Particularly at times of lockdown, for example, they ensured that consumers had continuous access to these harmful products through contactless delivery, for example, or curbside drop-offs. And what is particularly concerning about those forms of access is that those who are underage, who would normally not have access or difficulty accessing these products, could be made potentially easier through this contactless delivery system.


“We also know that they were providing promotional discounts, appropriating the #StayAtHome hashtag on social media for their own marketing purposes, and claiming that this nicotine and tobacco electronic products were the good companions for working from home contexts, et cetera.


“On a more globally strategic level, they really tried hard to seem like part of the solution to the pandemic by donating things like ventilators to countries, as well as other personal protective equipment and masks with their own logos on it, et cetera.


“Meanwhile, staying completely silent on their role in the over eight million deaths due to tobacco every year,” she noted.


The project officer added that the body benefits immediately from quitting tobacco smoking.


“Within 20 minutes of your last cigarette, your heart rate and blood pressure have improved. Within 12 hours, the carbon monoxide levels in your blood will have reduced to normal. Within two to 12 weeks, you can expect your lung function and circulation to have improved.


“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,” Gouda said.

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