Hyderabad: World Health Organization (WHO) said smoking cigarettes increase the possibility of transmission of the virus from hand to mouth.

Smokers may have reduced lung capacity which increases the risk of COVID-19.

“Smoking products such as water pipes often involve sharing of mouthpieces and hoses, which could facilitate the transmission of COVID-19 in social settings. Moreover, conditions that increase oxygen needs or reduce the ability of the body to use it properly. It will put patients at higher risk of serious lung conditions such as pneumonia” says a WHO report.

Several other research organizations have supported the hypothesis that smoking aggravates infection.

“We know that people who smoke are at higher risk of respiratory tract (including lung) infections, which puts them in a most vulnerable group having a higher risk of getting COVID-19. We do know that exposure to second-hand smoke also damages the lungs and depresses the immune system, increases susceptibility to chest and respiratory infections,” said Dr. A. Srikanth, Secretary Indian Dental Association, and Deccan Branch.

Dr. Srikanth noted since people are currently indoors these days and there are chances that they might smoke in front of a family member especially kids which puts them at a greater risk of getting COVID-19

A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in February looked at 1,099 patients in China with COVID-19. According to the study, of 173 patients who had severe symptoms of coronavirus, 16.9% were smokers and 5.2% had a previous history of smoking.

Although the data is too small to substantiate the claim, the European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC) has also included smokers in the vulnerable group.

Citing a study conducted by Guoshuai Cai, from the University of South Carolina. the ECDC report said smoking was associated with heightened activity in the lungs of an enzyme, ACE2. According to the report, this could make patients more vulnerable to COVID-19,

Moreover, according to ECDC, former smokers are more at risk than current smokers because the enzyme was more active in different cells in former smokers.

Dr. PankajChaturvedi, deputy director, Center for Cancer Epidemiology at Tata Memorial Hospital said the findings of a study published in the Chinese Medical Journal found that those with a history of smoking were 14 times more likely to develop pneumonia than those who did not smoke at all.

“People who smoke have the tendency to share cigarettes with each other, which puts them at higher risk of getting infected. The vendors defy the law which prohibits the sale of loose cigarettes. Enforcement officers must ensure that the ban on the sale of the loose cigarettes is immediately enforced,” he said.

Dheeshma Puzhakkal

Dheeshma Puzhakkal is currently a Reporter with Newsmeter. An alumnus of Hyderabad Central University, she has interned with Greater Kashmir newspaper and NDTV. Dheeshma has also made short films and documentaries. Her documentary ‘Still I Rise’, which is based on sex-trafficking in Hyderabad’s Old City, has earned accolades in several film festivals, such as International Documentary and Short Film Festival, Kerala (IDSFFK). An avid foodie, she loves to travel and listen to stories that others tell. Photography is one of her all-time interests. She has extensively written on satellite-based journalism, health, consumer, and data stories besides covering anti-crime investigative agencies.

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