In the light of the current global pandemic of Coronavirus, smokers are at high risk of getting infected and due to the weak immune system and other respiratory issues faced by smokers, there is a high probability of smokers contracting the infection.
This was said by health experts, tobacco control advocates and members of civil society at a smoking-awareness roundtable.
Speaking on the occasion CEO Human Development Foundation (HDF), Azhar Saleem, said among Chinese patients diagnosed with COVID-19, the odds of disease progression (including to death), was 14 times higher among people with a history of smoking compared to those who did not smoke.
Azhar Saleem stated that smoking weakened the function of body defense immune cells and the production of antibodies in human. The damage caused by the chemicals present in tobacco to the human lungs leave smokers at higher susceptibility for getting infected.
Quoting a study from World Health Organization (WHO), Azhar Saleem shared that 2-4 folds increased risk has been observed for pulmonary and respiratory diseases in smokers as compared to non-smokers. The same goes for water-pipe (Hookah) users. The mouth piece in water-pipe is used by multiple users and it gets infected with microorganism which leads to transmission of viral and bacterial infections among water-pipe users. Past studies have shown that water-pipes and mouthpieces have been implicated in an outbreak of pulmonary tuberculosis, hepatitis C virus, EBV, HSV, respiratory virus and fungal infections.
He further added that the current pandemic of coronavirus is an added cost to the existing health burden incurred by the government. On top of that, tobacco consumption increases the vulnerability of smokers which is an added liability. He urged the government to take firm tobacco control measures, like increasing the taxes on tobacco products, to reduce consumption and the associated health risks of tobacco, especially among youth and elderly to prevent disastrous effects during pandemic crisis of all sorts of pulmonary and lungs diseases, including coronavirus.