CPS: Quitting Tobacco Reduces Risk of Severe COVID-19

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GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten (DCOMM) – Smokers face a 40 to 50 per cent higher risk of developing severe disease and death from COVID-19. The World Health Organization (WHO) supports people quitting tobacco to reduce their risk of severe COVID-19.

The Collective Prevention Services (CPS), a department in the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour, is also of the same opinion and encourages the smokers within the Sint Maarten community to also follow the same advice.

The WHO says that smokers can lower their risk from the coronavirus, as well as the risk of developing cancers, heart disease and respiratory illnesses.

Globally, roughly 39% of men and 9% of women use tobacco. The highest tobacco use rates among men are currently found in the Western Pacific region at 49%, and among women in Europe at 19%.

There are multiple ways that exposure to tobacco affects the health of people’s lungs worldwide.  According to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) these include:

Lung cancer.
Tobacco smoking is the primary cause for lung cancer, responsible for over two thirds of lung cancer deaths globally. Second-hand smoke exposure at home or in the workplace also increases risk of lung cancer. Quitting smoking can reduce the risk of lung cancer: after 10 years of quitting smoking, risk of lung cancer falls to about half that of a smoker.

Chronic respiratory disease.
Tobacco smoking is the leading cause of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a condition where the build-up of pus-filled mucus in the lungs results in a painful cough and agonising breathing difficulties. The risk of developing COPD is particularly high among individuals who start smoking at a young age, as tobacco smoke significantly slows lung development. Tobacco also exacerbates asthma, which restricts activity and contributes to disability. Early smoking cessation is the most effective treatment for slowing the progression of COPD and improving asthma symptoms.

Across the life-course.
Infants exposed in-utero to tobacco smoke toxins, through maternal smoking or maternal exposure to second-hand smoke, frequently experience reduced lung growth and function. Young children exposed to second-hand smoke are at risk of the onset and exacerbation of asthma, pneumonia and bronchitis, and frequent lower respiratory infections. Globally, an estimated 165 000 children die before the age of 5 of lower respiratory infections caused by second-hand smoke. Those who live on into adulthood continue to suffer the health consequences of second-hand smoke exposure, as frequent lower respiratory infections in early childhood significantly increased risk of developing COPD in adulthood.

Tuberculosis.
Tuberculosis (TB) damages the lungs and reduces lung function, which is further exacerbated by tobacco smoking. The chemical components of tobacco smoke can trigger latent infections of TB, which around a quarter of all people are infected with. Active TB, compounded by the damaging lung health effects of tobacco smoking, substantially increases risk of disability and death from respiratory failure.

Air pollution.
Tobacco smoke is a very dangerous form of indoor air pollution: it contains over 7 000 chemicals, 69 of which are known to cause cancer. Though smoke may be invisible and odourless, it can linger in the air for up to five hours, putting those exposed at risk of lung cancer, chronic respiratory diseases, and reduced lung function.

For more information call CPS at +17215423003; or email surveillance@sintmaartengov.org