A Spokesperson of the Health Department said here today that as per Global Adult Tobacco Survey-India, tobacco use is a major risk factor for the four main Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs)-cardiovascular diseases, cancer, chronic lung disease, and diabetes, which puts people with these condition at higher risk for developing severe illness when affected by Covid-19. The percentage of death is higher (38%) among TB patients associated with Tobacco use.
He said that smoking impairs the functioning of the lungs, thereby reducing immunity and making it harder for the body to fight off various diseases. Smoking, e-cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, pan masala, and the use of other tobacco products could increase the risk and severity of pulmonary infections. It damages the upper airways and decreases pulmonary immune function. Smokers are likely to be more vulnerable to Covid-19 as the act of smoking means that fingers (and possibly contaminated cigarettes) are in contact with lips which increases the possibility of transmission of the virus from hand to mouth. Experts have confirmed that smokers are more likely to develop severe symptoms or die from Covid-19, as it primarily attacks the lungs.
He said that smoking products such as water pipes or hookah often involve the sharing of mouthpieces and hoses, facilitate the transmission of Covid-19 in communal and social settings. Evidence from countries reporting Covid-19 related fatalities have highlighted that people with pre-existing non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are more susceptible to becoming severely ill with Covid-19.
He added that tobacco use poses a significant risk by accelerating the transmission of Covid-19 because the virus spreads primarily through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Chewing tobacco products like Khaini, Gutkha, Paan, Zarda increases the urge to spit. Spitting in public places increases health risks especially those of spreading infectious and contagious diseases like Covid-19, tuberculosis, swine flu, encephalitis, etc.
He appealed to the public to quit tobacco chewing and smoking for the well-being of themselves and their families.