COVID-19 and tobacco related diseases

It is a fact that COVID-19, like other respiratory diseases, attacks the lungs with some of the severe symptoms of the illness being difficulty in breathing or shortness of breath, chest pain or pressure.

This is why wearing of face masks to cover the mouth and nose is one of the key safety protocols to protect us from getting the virus through the direct contact with respiratory droplets of an infected person.

Even though everyone is at risk of contracting the virus, it has come to light that smokers are more predisposed to the virus because of certain practices associated with the habit.

According to the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) the hand to mouth contact during smoking and sharing of mouthpieces and shisha tubes could easily aid the transmission of the virus.

The Head of Tobacco and Substance Abuse Department of the FDA, Dr Mrs Olivia Boateng who disclosed this said the weakening of the lungs due to the smoking, makes it difficult for the body to fight the virus.

In an interview with the Ghanaian Times as published in today’s edition, she said these are based on review of studies by public health experts convened by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on April 29, 2020. 

It is alarming to learn that in Ghana, more than 500,000 are estimated to smoke cigarette on daily basis. This includes more than 425,200 men, 69,200 women and 2,700 boys.  This is aside those who smoke other forms of tobacco.

This means that there is a large category of people who are all at higher risks of contracting the virus. The figure of those who smoke cigarettes alone are more than 60 times the number COVID-19 cases in the country. 

Even with the recorded 7,881 cases with 36 deaths and 2,540 recoveries, the country had recorded as of yesterday, she is on the edge and running around the clock to manage the condition.

 This is why the Ghanaian Times joins the FDA to caution smokers in the country to quit the habit to save their lives and the passive smokers who inhale what they release into the air.

If the fear of other respiratory diseases have not been scary enough to make them quit the habit, the rate at which people are succumbing to the virus across the world should be enough signal of the danger ahead.

We are particularly concerned about the youth who have fallen in love with shisha, e-cigarettes and other forms of tobacco because of the misinformation that they are safer.

We urge them to heed the warning of the FDA that shisha especially is more dangerous than cigarettes.  We understand that quitting smoking is not an easy process but would you chose it over your life? Certainly not.

The FDA, the Ghana Health Service and their partners must rise to the occasion and increase public education on tobacco usage to save lives since our laws only prohibits smoking in public.

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