22 September, 2020

World No Tobacco Day 2020

The SARS-CoV2, a novel coronavirus causing the COVID-19, has already infected more than five million people in the entire world. Although the body could fight off the virus and recover, eventually, some people are at greater risks due to existing medical conditions and unhealthy lifestyles.

According to research, among the vulnerable ones are smokers who tend to develop more severe conditions when infected by SARS-CoV2 compared to non-smokers. This serves as a reminder as to why one should say no to tobacco.

The World No Tobacco Day is not only an annual awareness campaign that highlights the health risks of tobacco but also a movement that urges the government to make a move and protect the youth from its influence and from nicotine.

The World No Tobacco Day this year, happening on May 31, 2020, is very timely given the respiratory infection outbreak the world is experiencing right now.

Know about COVID-19

The SARS-CoV2 is feared around the world not mainly because of how deadly it is, but more so on how infectious it is. It mostly starts with one to two people and spreads like wildfire. Even so, it is deemed as more dangerous than the ordinary bushfire as it is silently, and deadly at the same time

The mode of transmission of the virus is by droplets. In simple terms, an infected person can only pass the virus if someone is within close proximity. The droplets are heavy and would just fall on to the surface after reaching about 1 meter.

However, touching surfaces where the droplets fell can also be a mode of infection since the virus droplets still made contact with the body. This is why social distancing and good hand hygiene is being imposed around the world.

The virus droplets are sometimes being confused with bacteria and even fungi. These three are totally different. Viruses are non-living things as opposed to bacteria and fungi which are living organisms. It is made up of proteins and a genetic material that can either be DNA or RNA.

Once inside the body, the virus hijacks the body’s cell machinery in order to replicate and overwhelm the immune system. A weakened immune system or unhealthy habits increases the risk of developing serious complications from the infection. Currently, there are no direct treatments for COVID-19. The only way to recover from it is when the immune system of the infected body adapts to the virus and eventually kill it.

However, the controversial hydroxychloroquine, a drug used to prevent or treat malaria, has caused rumours as to whether it could be used to manage the deadly virus. There are some research findings that suggest hydroxychloroquine could indeed offer benefits in the management of COVID-19. Nevertheless, the self-administration of this drug is still not recommended.

Strengthening one’s immune system, especially the respiratory system, could offer countless benefits not just in this outbreak, but life in general. One way to protect the lungs is by avoiding tobacco products which could greatly help you in battling this pandemic and save people from future complications.

Dangers of smoking

According to the World Health Organization, more than 8 million people die each year due to tobacco consumption. The main concern in it is that its adverse effects are not limited to the smoker itself, but to everyone and everything that he or she interacts with.

Out of the 7000 chemicals present in tobacco, at least 250 are known to be harmful. And out of these 250, at least 69 are carcinogenic or can cause cancer. Some of the notable ones include nicotine, formaldehyde, ammonia, carbon monoxide, and radioactive elements.  All of these are inhaled into the lungs to which can cause different kinds of diseases throughout the body.

Some of these are heart diseases, stroke, different kinds of cancer, tuberculosis, COPD or build-up of mucus in the lungs, and infertility. As mentioned, smoking is also thought to increase the vulnerability of a person to SARS-CoV2. 

Due to the complications brought by tobacco smoking, alternatives such as e-cigarettes or electronics nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) are being utilized. But is this alternative any better?

As of to date, no research study had concluded with enough confidence if e-cigarettes are the better option. The product is still relatively new, which is why the long-term effects of using such are not well understood yet. However, there are reported cases indicating that ENDS causes serious lung disease, which is why everyone must still be wary of this alternative.

Now is the time to quit

With the emergence of COVID-19, there is no better time than this to quit the use of tobacco. This pandemic re-emphasizes the dangers and risks of tobacco smoking. From the very breath the smoker exhales up to the furniture and smallest stuff a smoker breathes into, a toxic chemical is left behind. No one is safe around a smoker.

Due to this SARS-CoV2 infection, quitting tobacco is more beneficial than ever. Stopping tobacco use and advertisement would not just save the smokers, but everyone around them as well. Everyone must participate in this movement and inform their family and friends about the dangers associated with tobacco. ▪

References:

1.       Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Google News. (n.d.). Retrieved May 23, 2020, from https://news.google.com/covid19/map

2.       Brake, S. J., Barnsley, K., Lu, W., McAlinden, K. D., Eapen, M. S., & Sohal, S. S. (2020). Smoking upregulates angiotensin-converting enzyme-2 receptor: a potential adhesion site for novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 (Covid-19).

3.       World No Tobacco Day. (n.d.). Retrieved May 23, 2020, from https://www.cancer.org/latest-news/world-no-tobacco-day.html

4.       World Health Organization. (2020). Modes of transmission of the virus causing COVID-19: implications for IPC precaution recommendations: scientific brief, March 27 2020 (No. WHO/2019-nCoV/Sci_Brief/Transmission_modes/2020.1). World Health Organization.

5.       Modes of transmission of virus causing COVID-19 … (n.d.). Retrieved May 23, 2020, from https://www.who.int/news-room/commentaries/detail/modes-of-transmission-of-virus-causing-covid-19-implications-for-ipc-precaution-recommendations

6.       Are Viruses Alive? – Scientific American. (n.d.). Retrieved May 23, 2020, from https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/are-viruses-alive-2004/

7.       Sohrabi, C., Alsafi, Z., O’Neill, N., Khan, M., Kerwan, A., Al-Jabir, A., … & Agha, R. (2020). World Health Organization declares global emergency: A review of the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19). International Journal of Surgery.

8.       Colson, P., Rolain, J. M., Lagier, J. C., Brouqui, P., & Raoult, D. (2020). Chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine as available weapons to fight COVID-19. Int J Antimicrob Agents, 105932(10.1016).

9.       Tobacco. (n.d.). Retrieved May 23, 2020, from https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/tobacco

10.   Martins-Green, M., Adhami, N., Frankos, M., Valdez, M., Goodwin, B., Lyubovitsky, J., & Curras-Collazo, M. (2014). Cigarette Smoke Toxins Deposited on Surfaces: Implications for Human Health. PLoS ONE, 9(1). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0086391

11.   Harms of Cigarette Smoking and Health Benefits of Quitting … (n.d.). Retrieved May 23, 2020, from https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/tobacco/cessation-fact-sheet

12.   Harmful Chemicals in Tobacco Products | American Cancer … (n.d.). Retrieved May 23, 2020, from https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-causes/tobacco-and-cancer/carcinogens-found-in-tobacco-products.html

13.   12 Diseases Caused by Smoking | Infographic. (n.d.). Retrieved May 23, 2020, from https://www.unitypoint.org/livewell/article.aspx?id=17ace3fc-fb01-45c3-8617-1beb81404fc4

14.   Health Risks of Smoking Tobacco – American Cancer Society. (n.d.). Retrieved May 23, 2020, from https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-causes/tobacco-and-cancer/health-risks-of-smoking-tobacco.html

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