A Particularly Bad Habit to Break Amid Coronavirus Pandemic: Using Tobacco
Thursday at 8:59 pm
BY SANDRA GUY
We’re now only too aware that a cough and shortness of breath are COVID-19’s most dramatic symptoms, forcing some patients to be intubated and put on ventilators.
So recognition of “World No Tobacco Day” on May 31 — designated by the World Health Organization (WHO) — takes on tremendous import this year.
This year’s theme: Telling young people that marketers may try to entice them with fun flavors, hip slogans and social media hype — but the truth is that smokers are likely to be more vulnerable to COVID-19, according to a WHO news release.
That’s because touching your fingers, or a contaminated cigarette or vaping cartridge, to your lips increases the chances of transmitting coronavirus.
Smokers also may be at increased risk of having reduced lung capacity, leaving them particularly vulnerable to a virus marked by breathing difficulty and its propensity to morph into pneumonia.
“It would be reasonable to think that any condition that potentially affects the lungs, be it chronic or acute effects from such behavior as smoking or vaping, regardless of the ingredients inhaled, could play a role in making someone more susceptible to complications from the disease,” said Dr. Albert Rizzo, the American Lung Association’s Chief Medical Officer, in a press release.
Public health experts also warn the vapor and smoke may contain virus particles, as can chewing-tobacco spit.
In March, the New York State Academy of Family Physicians called for a ban on sales of tobacco and e-cigarettes during the pandemic.
The World Health Organization wants everyone to take it a step farther by urging young people to beware the tobacco industry’s marketing campaigns, whether they be on social media, in pop culture or on school campuses that may start gradually reopening in the Fall or in 2021.
Experts say people who are addicted to vaping or smoking should consult their doctor to see if they should use a nicotine patch or other stop-smoking products such as nicotine gum.