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What smokers should know about COVID-19

By - Raghav Gupta

COVID-19 pandemic has struck the whole world and no corner of the globe is left untouched by it. As per data from US-based Johns Hopkins University, it has infected over 2.1 million people worldwide with over 140,000 deaths. The death percentage in some countries like Italy and Spain is exceptionally higher than other places where the outbreak has spread and particularly than China, the original epicentre of COVID-19 outbreak.

While there are no concrete studies to base the claims but primary research and data suggest that the big gap in death rate is partially or majorly due to smoking and other related vices. Some studies even found that people who are active smokers may possess a higher chance of contracting the virus. 

Let’s try to get a better picture of how smoking can increase the risk of Coronavirus (COVID-19).

COVID-19 and Smoking

It does not matter if you smoke cigarettes, shisha, marijuana, or vape, the smoke from these instruments damages your lungs and respiratory system. With tobacco-induced smoking systems like cigarette and shisha smokers are more likely to contract the virus. 

Tobacco is a known immunosuppressant that affects your entire respiratory system when you inhale the smoke. People who regularly engage in smoking, are more likely to catch COVID-19 virus, as their immune system is weaker than a healthy human being. 

Smoking habits like sharing cigarettes and water pipes could also exhilarate transfer of virus from one person to another. The World Health Organization (WHO) has also warned against smoking in times of COVID-19. Smokers are more likely to touch their fingers to lips hence increasing the chance of infection, a WHO answer on smoking in times of COVID-19 read.

How COVID-19 attacks human body?

Preliminary studies have reflected that novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) attacks the immune system and vital organs of the body. It is a respiratory disease that severely affects the lungs, throat, mouth, and nose. Most deaths due to the virus have been reported as organ failures. People with cardiovascular or immunity issues are more likely to catch the virus.

Smoking harms and damages almost every organ including the heart and blood vessels. This damage could increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases which could do serious harm in times of COVID-19. 
A plaque-like layer is formed inside the arteries due to smoking. Over time this layer hardens thus reducing the diameter of the artery and affecting the blood flow to organs. This puts more pressure on the heart to pump blood, hence increasing risk of a heart attack.

Has Smoking affected COVID-19 death rate?

A body with a good immune system may possibly recover from COVID-19 but one that is already weakened by smoking, holds less chance of fighting the virus. 

Death rate in Italy due to COVID-19 is among the highest of all. While some people say it is due to the ageing population of the country, some studies also claim that the reason could be the high smoking rate in the country. About 25% of people in Italy are active smokers, which means every fourth immune system is a weak objector to the virus in Italy. 
A similar stance was noted in US where every fifth fatality in normal conditions is due to smoking or related ailments. Over 600,000 people have been infected by the virus in US and it cannot be refuted that the highest infection rate could be due to the incapacitated immune system. 

While there have been no case studies related to using marijuana during COVID-19 pandemic, it cannot be denied that the people smoking marijuana also possess a greater risk of developing severe infection. Their immune responses are often delayed that could lead to a possible infection.

How Smokers can take care of their health during COVID-19?

People who stop smoking may have a better chance of fighting the virus than people who are actively smoking. Human body tends to heal itself from the minute you stop smoking. Lungs pour out mucus which slowly takes out the tar deposited by smoke. The damage from smoking is irreversible but getting rid of the smoke might be among the best preventive measures for smokers for now. 

A better immune system is a boon during a pandemic. Every chance to fight is like an extra armour in a battle and every cigarette you smoke could take away a chance from you.

Nicotine related treatments are advised to chain smokers who wish to quit smoking as they can stop their cravings and resulting mood swings. Such treatment also causes nausea and COVID-19 symptoms in some people and hence should be taken under medical supervision.

Taking a reasonable amount of fluids and adopting healthy habits may also increase efficiency of an immune system by providing essential nutrients to the body in sufficient amounts.

Quitting tobacco and smoking could be the best Coronavirus preventive measure for smokers. Every habit takes some time to go away and this could be the perfect time to let go of smoking. Social distancing may prove to be very hard while you are letting go of this habit but taking help of online consultations and being in touch with your friends and family might be resourceful. Stay at Home and Stay Safe.


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