Coronavirus: Tobacco, shisha use raises risk of Covid-19, may turn fatal
Abu Dhabi - According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), smokers are most likely to develop health complications if they were infected with Covid-19.
Tobacco smokers are more likely to get infected and then develop further illnesses, medical professionals said urging them to kick the butt on World No Tobacco Day.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), smokers are most likely to develop health complications if they were infected with Covid-19.
The Ministry of Health and Prevention (Mohap) is rolling out several campaigns via social networking sites to enhance public awareness about smoking risks, especially in the time of Covid-19, and warn against dangers for smokers and disease transmission.
Dr Nithin P.G., specialist cardiologist at Ahalia Hospital - Abu Dhabi, said smoking impacts the lungs and makes the body vulnerable against coronavirus and other infectious diseases. "Once a smoker gets infected, it could result in further complications, including death. Tobacco use and exposure to second-hand smoke are major causes of cardiovascular diseases and uncontrolled blood pressures," he said.
Dr Nithin said that Covid-19 has been associated with direct cardiovascular damage. "There is an increased risk of more serious symptoms and death among Covid-19 patients who have underlying conditions, including cardiovascular diseases."
Covid-19 primarily affects the respiratory system which could result in fatality.
"Recent studies show that smokers were 1.4 times more likely to have severe symptoms of Covid-19 and approximately 2.4 times more likely to be admitted to an ICU, need mechanical ventilation or die compared to non-smokers."
Dr Nithin said certain forms of smoking, like water pipe (shisha), increase the risk of transmission of diseases. "This could encourage the transmission of Covid-19 in social gatherings too."
All forms of tobacco harmful
Iyaad Hasan, DNP certified tobacco treatment specialist at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, stressed if the members of the community were to beat smoking as a society it is vital to break through the 'veneer of acceptability' the habit still enjoys in some circles.
"Smoking is a leading cause of early death and one that it is possible to eliminate entirely. I would urge people tempted by smoking to remember the harm it does to their bodies and that every day they stay smoke-free is a step towards a healthier, happier future."
He stressed misconceptions about other forms of tobacco remain. "All forms of smoking are harmful to a person's health and none should be considered safe in any way. Shisha and medwakh, in particular, have been shown to be more harmful than smoking cigarettes. The chemical content that comes off shisha smoke is 100 times that of a cigarette. A 60-minute shisha session is like smoking 100 cigarettes. When it comes to medwakh, people often think it is less harmful because they only use it a few times a day. However, one hit of medwakh is reported to be equivalent of smoking three to five cigarettes so just taking four in a day is equivalent to smoking a packet of cigarettes. Medwakh is a real danger to public health and stopping the spread of the habit is of utmost importance."
Hasan underlined e-cigarette has its harms too. "Vaping is smoking and smoking is vaping. I would recommend that people interested in living a longer, healthier life quit the habit cold turkey rather than turn to alternatives that are still harmful to their health."
E-cigarettes not a safer alternative
Companies promoting e-cigarettes as a safer alternative is just an illusion, warned the Ministry of Health and Prevention (Mohap).
It sounded caution about the illegal ways tobacco companies use to promote e-cigarettes as less harmful products.
Mohap has launched several anti-smoking projects including the establishment of a network of 16 smoking cessation clinics in the primary health care centres with plans to expand them, the mobile smoking cessation clinic, and other initiatives.
This year's 'World No Tobacco Day' - marked today - focuses on 'Protecting youth from industry manipulation and preventing them from tobacco and nicotine use'. It aims to raise people's awareness about the health risks of smoking and its economic development burdens on governments and societies, and the need to continue to implement effective policies to reduce tobacco consumption.
The UAE is one of the world's first countries to join the WHO's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. At the local level, the UAE has developed a national indicator of the smoking rate with plans to reduce it to 15.7 by 2021. The country has formed a national committee for tobacco control comprising 12 government entities to draft tobacco control-related legislations, regulations, and systems, along with a database about tobacco use, its products, and its trade.
The UAE's efforts in this respect have yielded the decrease rate of adult smokers by 18 per cent since 2010 in accordance with the health survey 2017- 2018, in addition to imposing the selective tax on tobacco and its derivatives by 50-100 per cent.
To activate the articles of the Tobacco Control Law, the Mohap has established effective partnerships with various government sectors. It has also developed a guideline and an integrated training programme through the 'Maharti System' to enhance the capabilities and skills of the physicians to provide smoking cessation services and to standardise the work in accordance with the internationally approved treatment protocols.
Tips to quit smoking:
>Pick a date to stop smoking and get ready for it
>Don't stress over missing smoking, think about gains
>Don't carry lighter, matches or tobacco products
>When there's feel to smoke, take deep breath and release
>Note down what triggers urge to smoke
>Change activities connected to smoking
>Keep hands busy by drawing or playing a game
>Instead of a cigarette break, take a walk
>Try a new hobby or project
>Outdoor workout for 30 minutes
>If these don't help, find a smoking cessation programme