- May 2020 Smoking and the Coronavirus Crisis Newsletter
Smoking and the Coronavirus Crisis
Whilst we are all doing our part to put an end to the coronavirus pandemic, there are already many lessons we can put into practise to build a healthier future. One of these lessons is the essential importance of creating a world free from the addictive grip of nicotine and tobacco.
Long before the pandemic, we already knew many staggering tobacco statistics: Tobacco use is the world’s leading cause of preventable death, tobacco use kills more than 8 million people worldwide each year, and tobacco kills up to half of all its users. With the coronavirus crisis, the list of tobacco harms continues to grow: Smoking may increase the severity of a coronavirus infection, raising the risk of dangerous complications or death from COVID-19.
In one study from China, tobacco users infected with the coronavirus were 14 times more likely to have progression of COVID-19, requiring more extensive treatment, when compared to nontobacco users.
The good news is that quitting tobacco has major and immediate health benefits for every tobacco user who quits. In these times of uncertainty, the coronavirus crisis provides an educational opportunity to urge tobacco users to quit, improving their health now and for the future.
Here at Health Edco, we have a wide variety of tobacco education materials and models that are perfect to stop tobacco use before it starts and inspire tobacco cessation in tobacco users, including those who smoke. Read on to learn more about why smoking and potentially vaping can worsen a coronavirus infection, and discover just a few of innovative and effective tobacco education resources.
How Can Smoking Worsen the Severity of COVID-19?
Older adults and people living in long-term care facilities are at high risk for severe complications from COVID-19. In addition, people of all ages with certain underlying medical conditions are also at high risk. Smoking is strongly linked to several of these conditions.
models to show COPD and other lung issues caused by smoking.
Smoking Harms the Lungs and Respiratory System
The coronavirus attacks the lungs, making people who already have chronic lung conditions, such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, more vulnerable. Tobacco smoke is a common trigger for asthma, and it can increase the frequency of asthma attacks. Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of COPD, which includes a group of diseases that obstruct airflow from the lungs and cause breathing problems. Chronic bronchitis and emphysema, two of the most common conditions that make up COPD, damage air sacs and block airways, making it difficult to breathe. Symptoms include persistent coughing, increased mucus production, shortness of breath, wheezing, and frequent chest infections. Anyone who smokes or has smoked in the past is at risk for getting COPD.
of COPD with an audible, hacking smoker’s cough.
Smoking Weakens the Immune System
Tobacco smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals, including many known cancer-causing agents and other toxic substances. These chemicals bombard the body, harming the lungs’ defenses and weakening the body’s immune system. With a weakened immune system, the body is less able to fight infections, such as COVID-19 caused by the coronavirus.
Smoking Harms the Cardiovascular System
People of all ages with serious heart conditions are at increased risk for severe coronavirus complications. Smoking is a major cause of cardiovascular disease, including diseases of the heart and blood vessels. Smoking can cause artery damage by encouraging the buildup of fatty deposits (plaque). Plaque buildup can narrow and harden arteries, restricting blood flow and leading to the development of blood clots, heart attack, and stroke. Having a serious heart condition can make it difficult to fight a serious respiratory illness, including COVID-19.
to teach the facts about tobacco and the benefits of quitting.
Smoking Causes Type 2 Diabetes
People who have diabetes also are at high risk for severe coronavirus complications. Smokers are up to 40 percent more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than nonsmokers. Smokers with diabetes are also at higher risk for serious diabetic complications, including heart and kidney disease, which also increase the risk of severe coronavirus complications.
Can Vaping Worsen Coronavirus Complications?
The connection between vaping and more severe coronavirus complications is less clear and less well-researched than with smoking. Some media (particularly in the United States where there have been recent hospitalisations and deaths linked with e-cigarette product use-associated injury) have suggested that vaping may worsen coronavirus complications. E-cigarettes are not a risk-free alternative to smoking. However, in the UK where e-cigarettes are highly regulated, it is believed that smokers who have switched to vaping have made a far better choice to improve their lung and overall health.
How Else Might Smoking or Vaping Increase Vulnerability to COVID-19?
One of the key preventive steps to stop the spread of the coronavirus is to avoid touching your mouth or face. The act of smoking involves bringing a cigarette (which may be contaminated with the virus) from fingers to lips, possibly transferring the virus from hands to mouth. Vaping also involves moving an e-cigarette from hands to mouth, which may transmit the virus. Sharing e-cigarettes could also spread the coronavirus from person to person.
How Can Quitting Tobacco Help Fight COVID-19?
A coronavirus infection attacks the lungs, so having a healthy respiratory system is a big boost in fighting the virus. Although the rewards of quitting tobacco accrue over time, quitting has major and immediate benefits for tobacco users, no matter how poor their health is or how long they have used tobacco. Within minutes of quitting smoking, blood pressure and pulse drop, and within hours blood oxygen levels return to normal. Within weeks, circulation improves and lung function gets better. Within months, cilia start to regrow in the lungs, enhancing their ability to clean out the lungs and reduce the risk of infection.
and displays to help smokers successfully quit smoking.
Bottom line: Nicotine addiction is dangerous and deadly. Quitting smoking now can reduce the risk of severe coronavirus complications, including death. Quitting tobacco is key to a healthier and happier future: Smokers tend to shorten their life expectancy by 10 or more years as a result of their addiction. There’s no better time for tobacco cessation than now.
Health Edco Tobacco Education Materials and Models
Health Edco was founded by Wayman R Spence, MD, an early advocate of the anti-tobacco movement who believed in better health through education and awareness. His first health education teaching tool was a Lung Ashtray that cleverly depicted the devastating effects of tobacco smoke on the lungs. Today, our diverse line of tobacco education materials includes displays, models, activities, leaflets, and more that explain the many ways that smoking and smokeless tobacco harm health as well as promote tobacco cessation. Discover our innovative tobacco teaching tools by visiting our Tobacco Education Section.
©2020 Health Edco®