Benefits of quitting tobacco

Health Watch
Are you planning to quit tobacco during the pandemic? What risk does the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pose to a tobacco user? Learn how the tobacco industry lured people to consume tobacco during the pandemic. Dr Hebe Gouda, from the World Health Organisation (WHO) explains the health benefits of quitting tobacco.

Are you a tobacco user who is considering quitting during the pandemic?
What impact does the Covid-19 have on your body if you’re a tobacco user?
Today, we are talking to Dr Hebe Gouda about tobacco and Covid-19.
Let’s start with how the Covid-19 impacts the body of a tobacco user.

Dr Gouda: We now know that the evidence strongly indicates that smokers are up to 50 per cent more likely to suffer worse from the Covid-19 disease. That means that smokers are more likely to have worse symptoms, more likely to be hospitalised, more likely to be admitted into intensive care units and require help with breathing and/or ventilation.
Ultimately, smokers are more likely to die from the Covid-19 disease than someone who has never smoked.
In general, we know that tobacco has many harms to people’s health that causes heart disease, diabetes, lung conditions such as chronic lung disease and cancers such as lung cancer.
All these conditions too, we now know, make people more vulnerable to the Covid-19 disease.
We know how harmful tobacco is to our health.
Yet, during this pandemic, we saw the tobacco industry come up with new and innovative ways of getting more and more people hooked on tobacco.

Talk to us about these efforts by the industry.
Dr Gouda: The tobacco industry and other industries that are involved in the manufacturing and marketing of e-cigarettes, for example, were very active during the pandemic and continue to be so.
Particularly at times of lockdown, for example, they ensured that consumers had continuous access to these harmful products through contactless delivery, for example, or curbside drop-offs.
What is particularly concerning about those forms of access is that those who are under age, who would normally not have access or difficulty accessing these products, could be made potentially easier through this contactless delivery system.
We also know that they were providing promotional discounts, appropriating the “stay at home” hashtag on social media for their own marketing purposes, and claiming that these nicotine and tobacco electronic products were the good companions for working from home contexts, et cetera.
On a more globally strategic level, they tried hard to seem like part of the solution to the pandemic by donating things such as ventilators to countries, as well as other personal protective equipment and masks with their own logos on it, et cetera.
Meanwhile, staying completely silent on their role in the over eight million deaths due to tobacco every year.

Many people decided to quit using tobacco during the pandemic. Describe to us what happens to our bodies when we quit tobacco.

Dr Gouda: The benefits to our body when we quit smoking and tobacco use in general are almost immediate.
Within 20 minutes of your last cigarette, your heart rate and blood pressure have improved.
Within 12 hours, the carbon monoxide levels in your blood will have reduced to normal.
Within two to 12 weeks, you can expect your lung function and circulation to have improved.
In fact, within one to four years of quitting, your risk of dying is about half that of a current smoker. So, the best time to quit is now. – WHO