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Smokers more vulnerable to effects of COVID-19, expert says

Sri Wahyuni

The Jakarta Post

Yogyakarta  /  Sat, April 18, 2020  /  05:37 pm
Smokers more vulnerable to effects of COVID-19, expert says

Health expert Yayi Suryo Prabandari of Gadjah Mada University’s School of Medicine in Yogyakarta has said that smokers are more vulnerable to COVID-19. (AFP/Philippe Huguen)

If you happen to find posts on social media saying that smoking may protect people from the coronavirus, at least one expert can assure you that this claim is definitely false.

Health expert Yayi Suryo Prabandari of Gadjah Mada University’s School of Medicine in Yogyakarta said that, if anything, smokers were more vulnerable to the effects of COVID-19.

Yayi said the coronavirus could greatly increase the risk of diseases linked to smoking, such as cancer, heart attack, high blood pressure and diabetes.

“Smoking causes people to be more vulnerable to virus, bacteria and other diseases,” Yayi said in a statement.

She said that smokers, along with older adults and people with serious underlying medical conditions, had a higher risk of contracting the coronavirus compared to non-smokers.

When smokers are infected with COVID-19, their health is likely to deteriorate if they have existing lung problems caused by harmful chemicals inhaled while smoking.

Read also: 'Smokers in Indonesia are at high risk for COVID-19': WHO

“COVID-19 patients who smoke are twice as likely to need intensive care and respiratory devices, [and they are more at risk of] of dying,” Yayi said.

She added that smokers were prone to infection as their smoking activities involved contact between the fingers and the lips, thus increasing the possibility of hand-to-mouth transmission.

Smoking, she said, also caused excessive mucus production and hindered the cleaning process in the respiratory tract. “Smoking triggers inflammation, which increases vulnerability of viral infections.”

According to Yayi, the same risks also applied to electronic smoking or vaping. Many who vape often share their devices, increasing the likelihood of hand-to-mouth and mouth-to-mouth transmission.

She urged smokers to end the habit. “Quit as soon as possible. You can start so by smoking less. Or if you have to smoke, never share a smoking device,” she said. (wng)

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