The World Health Organization has marked May 31st as World No Tobacco Day. Tobacco kills nearly 8 million people worldwide every year. And yet, people continue to consume tobacco in some form. Even though the number of users has fallen in the last 20 years, an estimated 1.337 billion people still use tobacco in the world.
Of all the different tobacco-associated diseases that WHO and international governments have warned us against, a new infection has been added to that list. That disease is COVID-19!
What is this association between coronavirus and tobacco all about? Read on to know more.
The link between COVID-19 and tobacco
Growing volume of evidence collected by the WHO says that if you are a tobacco user, your chances of contracting COVID-19 are higher than a non-user. In fact, smoking and direct tobacco usage can make symptoms of COVID-19 far worse.
The WHO has found that when long-time tobacco users are infected with coronavirus, they are more likely to require-
- Intensive care
- Mechanical ventilation
They also develop other health complications associated with COVID-19 that can even turn severe –
- Acute respiratory failure
- Heart disease
- Liver injury
Why does tobacco make you vulnerable to COVID-19
Smoking or chewing tobacco has an adverse effect on the respiratory system. Tobacco can-
- Irritate the trachea and larynx.
- Reduce lung capacity.
- Inflame and narrow the airways of the lungs that make breathing difficult.
- Trigger excess mucus production in the lungs.
Moreover, people with weakened respiratory systems are also susceptible to –
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- Chronic bronchitis
- Emphysema (lung damage)
All these diseases are comorbid conditions of COVID-19 and can make it severe. The virus that causes COVID-19 also primarily targets the respiratory system. If the system is already weakened, the effect of COVID-19 can be more dangerous.
Tobacco also damages the cardiovascular system and is likely to give you-
- An elevated level of bad cholesterol
These cardiovascular conditions too are risk factors of COVID-19 and can make its recovery more difficult.
This is a good time to kick the habit of using tobacco
At present, all of us are adopting precautions to keep our families and ourselves safe from COVID-19.
But are you doing enough? Are you a smoker who frequently puffs on a cigarette? Now that you are home due to lockdown, you could be exposing your loved ones to the effects of second-hand smoking. Exposure to tobacco fumes can do as much damage to the lungs, arteries and heart as direct consumption of tobacco. So, in a way, you are making your family and yourself vulnerable.
So, alongside social distancing and washing hands frequently, adopt one more precautionary measure. Quit smoking. Don’t chew tobacco. Tobacco weakens your body in many ways, and this is the time when we should be focusing on keeping our bodies as strong as possible.
How to quit using tobacco during the pandemic
1. Acceptance is the key
First things first, accept that you are addicted to tobacco. Until you admit that there is a problem, you will not be able to resolve it.
2. Reflect on the dangers tobacco poses
You will also have to understand the dangers that tobacco poses, not just to yourself but to your loved ones as well. Do you want to be responsible for them becoming infected? Wouldn’t you do everything you can to keep them safe
3. Practise mindfulness
If you have been smoking for a long time, it’s not easy to stop suddenly. So practise mindfulness techniques like meditation on a daily basis to keep your mind calm. This will help control the urge to smoke.
4. Avoid buying
Now, you must make up your mind not to purchase tobacco products. Do not stockpile tobacco. When you go out to buy necessities, try to avoid stores that sell cigarettes or tobacco products to avoid temptation.
5. Throw away your existing stock
Dispose of all packets of existing tobacco products you have in the house to avoid temptation. If there are other smokers in the family, ask them to do the same.
6. Chew gum
If the urge to smoke is very strong, you can use sugar-free chewing gums to beat the urge. It has been seen the chewing gum keeps your mind occupied and reduces the urge to smoke.
Kick the deadly habit of tobacco consumption to keep you and your loved ones safe. Stop smoking now and emerge a healthier and fitter person at the end of the lockdown.