It has been observed that the COVID-19 fatalities are higher among people with pre-existing conditions such as cardiovascular and chronic respiratory conditions, cancer, and diabetes. And tobacco use is the main common risk factor linked to all of these diseases.

COVID-19 is an infectious disease that primarily attacks the lungs. Smoking impairs lung function making it harder for the body to fight off coronaviruses and other diseases.

Tobacco is also a major risk factor for noncommunicable diseases like cardiovascular disease, cancer, respiratory disease and diabetes. It use puts people with these conditions at higher risk for developing severe illness when affected by COVID-19. Available research suggests that smokers are at higher risk of developing severe disease and death.

Tobacco use kills more than 8 million people globally every year and negatively impacts the lung health of countless others. While the science of COVID-19 evolves, the limited evidence had so far shows that smoking worsens outcomes for COVID-19 patients.

Smokers are likely to be more vulnerable to COVID-19 as the act of smoking means that fingers, and possibly contaminated cigarettes, are in contact with lips which 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 the risk of serious illness.

The World Health Organization( WHO), in its statement on tobacco use and Covid-19, states: “Tobacco smoking is a known risk factor for many respiratory infections and increases the severity of respiratory diseases. A review of studies by public health experts convened by WHO on 29 April 2020 found that smokers are more likely to develop severe disease with COVID-19, compared to non-smokers.”

The World Health Organization is constantly evaluating new researches that examines the link between tobacco use, nicotine use, and COVID-19. There is currently insufficient information to confirm any link between tobacco or nicotine in the prevention or treatment of COVID-19.

Nicotine replacement therapies, such as gum and patches are designed to help smokers quit tobacco. WHO recommends that smokers take immediate steps to quit by using proven methods.

Within 20 minutes of quitting smoking, elevated heart rate and blood pressure drop. After 12 hours, the carbon monoxide level in the bloodstream drops to normal. Within 2-12 weeks, circulation improves and lung function increases. After 1-9 months, coughing and shortness of breath decrease.

To control the COVID-19 pandemic, reduce its tragic toll and save lives, there is a critical and urgent need for global coordination. We are all in this together, and if our actions are unified, we will get through this crisis.

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