WHO Pledges Smokers to Quit to Prevent Second COVID-19 Wave

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Sarah Peddie

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned smokers around the world to try and quit the habit to help prevent a second wave of the COVID-19 virus.

A statement published by the organisation on Monday 11 May strongly linked the impact of smoking to coronavirus symptoms. 

Studies carried out by public health experts found that people who are smokers are more likely to suffer with severe symptoms of COVID-19 compared to people who are non-smokers. 

It is now common knowledge that the coronavirus primarily attacks the lungs. Smoking impairs lung function which makes it harder for the body to fight the virus. Noncommunicable diseases are also brought about because of tobacco use like cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and respiratory disease which put people at higher risk of developing severe illness with COVID-19. 

WHO has urged researchers, scientists and the media to be cautious around the rumours and untrue facts that tobacco or nicotine could reduce the risk of COVID-19. There is insufficient information to confirm these claims.

They have recommended that smokers take immediate action and use nicotine replacement therapies like gum and patches that are designed to help smokers quit their habit. Quit lines and text messaging programmes are also recommended.

The statement says: “Within 20 minutes of quitting, elevated heart rate and blood pressure drop. After 12 hours, the carbon monoxide level in the bloodstream drops to normal. 

“Within 2-12 weeks, circulation improves and lung function increases. After 1-9 months, coughing and shortness of breath decrease.”

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