KAMPALA — Initial evidence suggests smoking is also a risk factor for COVID-19, with smokers having 1.91 times the odds of progression in COVID-19 severity compared to non-smokers, the World Health Organization has warned.
WHO says that Tobacco use causes a higher risk to the effects of COVID-19 for both active and second hand users and that tobacco a key cause for chronic weakening of the respiratory system which also is the body part directly affected by COVID-19.
Additionally, tobacco use contributes obstructive pulmonary diseases as well as diabetes and heart diseases. Good thing is, there are alternative products such as tobacco free dip for a healthier lifestyle, which are readily available in the market and online.
The behaviors of tobacco users such as sharing water pipes in groups sharing both electronic and e -cigarettes, gaping and smoking near non smokers increase the risk of spreading the corona virus.
Equally, tobacco users have higher chances of severe suffering once diagnosed with COVID-19.
“There has never been any better time to quite smoking and individuals to protect their health by avoiding all tobacco products,” said the US based Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids.
Uganda Health Communication Alliance has urged Ugandans to comply with the Tobacco Control Act 2015 as well as follow the Tobacco Control Regulations.
UHCA also encourages adherence to the health precautionary measures of preventing the spread of Corona virus by washing hands regularly with soap and water or use of alcohol sanitizer, avoid touching your mouth ,eyes and nose., covering one’s mouth and nose with disposable tissue or flexed elbow while sneezing or coughing; maintaining social distance of two meters and staying at home to reduce the risk of infection.
“People who smoke must take extra care of their personal health and extra vilglant not to infect those around them” cautioned Richard Baguma, the Coordinator of UHCA.
What explains this discrepancy?
A higher prevalence of smoking among men, often resulting in compromised lung function, may help explain their higher COVID-19 fatality rate.
Tobacco use also contributes to the onset of co-occurring conditions such as cardiovascular diseases, lung cancer, COPD, and diabetes. These are more prevalent among males and also increase the risk of disease severity and death among COVID-19 patients.
Data presented in the New England Journal of Medicine article further illustrates the impact that smoking has on COVID-19 progression and mortality in China:
Among those severely affected by the disease, 16.9% were current smokers and 5.2% former smokers.
Among patients who were admitted to an intensive care unit, put on ventilation, or died, 25.8% were current smokers and 7.6% were former smokers.