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Smoking tobacco, weed could increase risk of severe COVID-19 infection, warns WHO


Radhika Dhawad | Apr 11, 2020 14:20

World Health Organisation (WHO) claimed that people who smoke tobacco, or weed stand a greater risk of getting infected by COVID-19. Smoking may transfer the virus into body. Similarly, sharing tobacco products can also transmit the virus between people. Tobacco weakens respiratory system thus making one more vulnerable to the virus.

“What happens to your airways when you smoke cannabis is that it causes some degree of inflammation, very similar to bronchitis, very similar to the type of inflammation that cigarette smoking can cause. Now you have some airway inflammation and you get an infection on top of it. So, yes, your chance of getting more complications is there, said pulmonologist Dr Albert Rizzo, Chief Medical Officer for the American Lung Association in a CNN report.

As per WHO, “Any kind of tobacco smoking is harmful to the bodily systems, including the cardiovascular and respiratory systems. COVID-19 can also harm these systems. Information from China, where COVID-19 originated, shows that people who have cardiovascular and respiratory conditions caused by tobacco use, or otherwise, are at higher risk of developing severe COVID-19 symptoms. Research on 55,924 laboratory confirmed cases in China shows that the crude fatality ratio for COVID-19 patients is much higher among those with cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, chronic respiratory disease or cancer than those with no pre-existing chronic medical conditions. This demonstrates that these pre-existing conditions may contribute to increasing the susceptibility of such individuals to COVID-19.”

WHO claimed, “Tobacco has a huge impact on respiratory health. The link between tobacco use and lung cancer is well established, with tobacco use being the most common cause of lung cancer. It also substantially increases the risk of tuberculosis infection. Further, tobacco use is also the most important risk-factor for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, causing the swelling and rupturing of the air sacs in the lungs, which reduces the lung’s capacity to take in oxygen and expel carbon dioxide, and the build-up of mucus, which results in painful coughing and breathing difficulties.”

It added, “This may have implications for smokers, given that smoking is considered to be a risk factor for any lower respiratory tract infection and the virus that causes COVID-19 primarily affects the respiratory system, often causing mild to severe respiratory damage.”

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