Doctors urge patients who smoke or vape to stop now because research shows that it can increase the risk of developing severe cases of corona virus and increase the spread of infectious diseases.
“I think this pandemic is the right time to encourage smokers to quit,” said Dr. Michael Siegel, a professor at Boston University School of Public Health.
“Fear is a great motivator, and this is of course the kind of guardian event that is often needed to help smokers solve that strong addiction,” Siegel said.
A study published in the European Respiratory Journal shows active smoking increases the response of enzymes in the lower airways that can contribute to an increased risk of severe coronavirus.
“These findings highlight the importance of smoking cessation for these people and increased surveillance of these risk subgroups for the prevention and rapid diagnosis of this potentially deadly disease,” the study said.
Calls from the medical community to stop smoking and yawning are supported by advisors from Attorney General Maura Healey and Massachusetts General Hospital who say unhealthy habits damage the lungs, weaken the immune system and increase the likelihood that infected people will experience severe symptoms.
“If you smoke or yawn, I encourage you to stop. Quitting during this pandemic can not only save your life, but by preventing the need for hospital treatment, you might also save the lives of others,” Dr. Jonathan Winickoff, director of children’s research at the MGH Tobacco Care and Research Center.
Many people who smoke or vape often share products or devices, increasing hand-to-mouth contact that can spread the corona virus, the adviser said.
“The threat of COVID-19 increasingly highlights the dangers posed by e-cigarettes, especially for our young people,” Healey said in a statement.
“Fighting the youth vaping crisis has never been more important, and we want people to understand the increased risks associated with smoking and vaping during this pandemic,” Healey said.
President of the Massachusetts Medical Society Dr. Maryanne Bombaugh also urged patients to stop, saying her organization “has worked tirelessly to educate our patients about the dangers of smoking and vaping.”
But Siegel noted smoking cigarettes and vaping did not pose the same risk, noting that many smokers switched to vaping in an effort to stop.
“I do not understand why vaping and smoking continue to be united,” Siegel said, adding, “The risk of smoking is far more severe than vaping, with or without COVID-19.”
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