Now may be a good time to try quitting smoking or using e-cigarettes, because doing so might reduce the risk for complications from the COVID-19 coronavirus, according to health experts.
A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, smokers are around
one and a half times more likely to progress to the severe stage of the coronavirus than those
who do not smoke. This is because tobacco use, including vaping damages the cells
protecting the nose and airways. Medical experts in the US are reportedly eyeing vaping as a
possible factor in the alarming number of hospitalizations among young adults diagnosed
with COVID-19 following a report that 20% of people hospitalized there with the virus were
between 20-44 years.
Currently, Botswana is faced with a serious challenge of tobacco use among young people
especially Hubbly bubbly and vapes. Even amid the coronavirus pandemic, we continue to
observe the use of Hubbly bubbly by young people who share the device in groups. This is
despite the recent call by health professionals urging members of the public to observe
coronavirus prevention measures such as social distancing at all times. This practice puts
users at greater risk of contracting and spreading the virus since the Hubbly devices are
shared (and most of them are rented to different customers) without any sterilization.
Some countries such as the UAE have banned the use of Hubbly bubbly as a precaution
against the spread of the virus. The US is also considering the ban following a request by The
New York State Academy of Family Physicians (NYSAFP) to ban the sale of all tobacco or
vaping products during this pandemic period. The Anti Tobacco Network views this as a
great lesson for Botswana to also consider suspending the sale of tobacco products including
Hubbly rentals as a way of minimizing the risk of spreading the coronavirus. Restricting
access to tobacco may force some people to quit for good. ATN further calls upon health
workers and other stakeholders to always highlight the importance of quitting tobacco use
when sending out coronavirus precautionary messages to the public. According to medical
experts, lung defenses can start to heal within days, so giving up smoking now could
significantly improve smokers' ability to defend and recover from the infection.
Anti Tobacco Network