Dr Gabriel Adakole, a Public Health expert, on Monday said tobacco users had a higher risk of being infected with virus while smoking cigarettes or using other tobacco products.
Adakole said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) at a global campaign by the World Health Organisation (WHO) titled, “Commit to Quit” to celebrate the World No Tobacco Day 2021 in Abuja.
NAN reports that WHO said the COVID-19 pandemic had made millions of tobacco users want to quit smoking.
It said nearly 60 per cent of tobacco users around the world desired to quit smoking but only 30 per cent of the global population had access to quality tobacco cessation services.
Adakole said if smokers contracted the COVID-19 virus, they would face a greater risk of getting a severe infection as their lung health would have already been compromised.
“Current evidence suggests that the severity of COVID-19 disease is higher among smokers.
“Smoking impairs lung function, making it more difficult for the body to fight off respiratory disease due to the new coronavirus,” he said.
According to him, the SARS-COV-2 epidemic should serve as an impetus for patients and those at risk to maintain good health practices and discontinue smoking.
He said chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma were also common comorbidities in severe cases of COVID-19.
Adakole, however, said it had been reported that COVID-19 progressed more severely in COPD patients.
“Given that smoking plays an important role in the etiopathogenesis of COPD, it may have a similar effect on symptoms.
“In a recent meta-analysis of smoking and COVID-19 severity, smoking was found to not increase the severity of COVID-19 (odds ratio [OR], 1.69; 95 per cent Cl: 0.41-6.92).
“However, only five studies were included in this meta-analysis, and heterogeneity among the studies was low,” he added.
NAN also reports that aiming to help 100 million people quit tobacco use through various initiatives and digital tools, WHO’s campaign can help create healthier conditions that promote tobacco cessation.
Celebrated around the world every year on May 31, World No Tobacco Day was created by the Member States of WHO in 1987 to draw global attention to the tobacco epidemic and the preventable death and disease it causes.
In 1987, the World Health Assembly passed Resolution WHA40.38, calling for April 7, 1988, to be “a world no-smoking day.” In 1988, Resolution WHA42.19 was passed, calling for the celebration of World No Tobacco Day, every year on May 31.
This yearly celebration aims to raise awareness amidst the global citizens about not only the dangers of using tobacco but also the business practices of tobacco companies.
This includes what WHO is doing to fight the tobacco epidemic and what people around the world can do to claim their right to health and healthy living and to protect future generations.