As the government highlights the risks to smokers from Covid-19, health professionals have joined forces in calling on smokers to #QuitforCovid.
“It is abundantly clear from the research into previous coronaviruses that smoking makes the impact of a coronavirus worse,” said secretary of state for health, Matt Hancock, in the House of Commons last month.
This echoes the advice of the chief medical officer during a health select committee meeting, who said: “If you are going to give up smoking, this is a very good moment to do it.”
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GP Dr Charlie Kenward from Bristol is urging his patients to #QuitforCovid. He said: “I was in surgery talking to a mother with her nine-year-old son. She works as a carer so I asked if she was worried about the virus. She said she was worried about catching it because she is a smoker. I asked her why not quit? She looked at her son who looked back at her and nodded. This is something all smokers can do now so that’s why I’m asking smokers to #QuitforCovid.”
The son and his sister are now working on a logo to promote the campaign and support more smokers to quit.
Dr Kenward is part of the team helping to plan the coronavirus response for Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire. He added: “We are doing everything we can to keep people as safe and healthy as possible through this crisis. Stopping smoking also helps improve heart and lung conditions, wound healing and many other health conditions which will all carry on at the same time as Covid-19.
“Stopping smoking remains the single most effective thing people can do to improve their and their family’s health both now and in the future.”
Some media are also reporting that vapers face additional risks from coronavirus. The evidence for this is far less clear. Smokers who have switched to vaping should be reassured that this is better for them than smoking.
Exposure to secondhand smoke is also likely to exacerbate the risks from coronavirus, alongside the other harms it causes. Therefore, smokers who are self-isolating and are not able to go outside to smoke should seek alternatives such as Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) or e-cigarettes to protect the people around them from harm.
Healthier Together Citizen’s Panel
The Healthier Together Citizen’s Panel is a public involvement initiative across Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire made up of more than 1,000 people who form a representative cross-section of the region’s residents. It enables individuals to voice their views on health and care matters in their area, while helping to influence and shape the future of the area’s health and care services.
- 19 per cent of people in Bristol, North Somerset and South Glos (BNSSG) are smokers, with ten a day being the average number of cigarettes smoked.
- Approximately a further third have smoked in the past and have now given up.
- Around 30,000 people in the BNSSG region use an e-cigarette.
- A majority of BNSSG residents are against smoking cigarettes and e-cigarettes on NHS sites.
Main photo courtesy of Oxfordan Kisuth
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