GUWAHATI: The informative note prepared by WHO on COVID-19 and NCDs says that smokers are likely to be more vulnerable to the virus as the act of smoking increases the possibility of transmission of the virus from hand to mouth.
Smokers may also already have lung disease or reduced lung capacity which would greatly increase risk of serious illness. Smoking products such as water pipes often involve the sharing of mouth pieces and hoses, which could facilitate the transmission of COVID-19 in communal and social settings. Conditions that increases oxygen needs or reduces the ability of the body to use it properly will put patients at higher risk of the consequences of bilateral viral pneumonia. The World Health Organization says in its FAQs that smoking is one thing people should not do during the coronavirus outbreak. Since the lungs and respiratory tract in smokers are already compromised to various extents, they are more prone to be severely infected by SARS CoV-2 which primary attacks the respiratory system in human beings, and in severe cases leads to symptoms such in difficulty in breathing.
According to Dr. Pranita Saikia, Senior Microbiologist, GNRC Hospital said “In the fight against corona, we all seem to have missed out one point. COVID-19 is essentially a type of flue, which attacks lungs. Besides elderly and children the groups of people who are potential victims of COVID-19 are the smokers. Continuous smoking gradually reduces the lung function by deposition of carbon particles in the lung tissues and reduces the elasticity. Further leads to less ciliary movements and accumulation of mucous in the lobules. Also smoking shows adverse impact on phagocytosis (the process by which a cell engulfs and destroy viruses or bacteria). Novel coronavirus is more contagious so easily smokers may be infected. Why to stop cigarette smoking only for 2-3 months. Why not ban cigarettes completely”. Advocate Ajoy Hazarika, Secretary, Consumers’ Legal Protection Forum, Assam said the whole world is fighting against COVID-19 and the States are taking significant preventive measures to curb the impact. Some of the States like Uttar Pradesh has banned the selling of tobacco products as it can indirectly spread the infection by spitting and smoking by infected people. On March 18, the district administration of Thane, Maharashtra, banned the sale of tobacco products along with shutting down of units selling or serving them to strengthen preventive measures to curve coronavirus. We demand Government of Assam to take the same initiative and pass an order to ban the selling of tobacco products in the State.