Crisis a good time to quit smoking – Doctor

A doctor has warned of the impact of smoking and highlighted the increased vulnerability that smokers have if infected with the coronavirus (COVID-19).

A lifestyle specialist with the South Pacific Society of Lifestyle Medicine, Dr. Paul Wood, said in response to questions from Samoa Observer that smoking only increased the risks that patients faced if diagnosed with coronavirus.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is really causing widespread concern and understandably so given that people with non-communicable diseases have a much higher risk of dying from COVID-19 if they contract it,” he said.

Dr. Wood then made reference to an article published by the Australian Society of Lifestyle Medicine, which warned that smoking has a toxic impact on people’s ability to fight viruses.

“Cigarette smoking has long been known to increase the risk of microbial infection,” the article in the medical journal stated.

“Smoking has a deleterious impact on our ability to fight infection, by disrupting the mucociliary escalator, immune cell function and weakening the epithelia in the lower airways, resulting in a greater likelihood of severe respiratory syndromes and a slowed and less complete.”

According to Dr. Wood, tobacco smoking increased the risks of death and today is the right time to quit the habit as the world battlers COVID-19.

He then quoted from the article, saying: “Indeed, the greatest known risk factor in the progression of COVID-19 is tobacco smoking: the risk of death is 14 times greater in those with a history of smoking compared to those without. While quitting smoking is never an easy undertaking, there really is no better time than to quit now.”

Dr. Wood, who has contributed to the health of the Samoan people as a lifestyle specialist, trained Samoans as facilitators for the Comprehensive Health Improvement Programme last year.

The Programme is an evidence-based regime that uses diets, exercises, stress management and rests. Simple lifestyle related principles to help people prevent, arrest and reverse non-communicable diseases like diabetes and heart disease are also promoted as part of the programme.

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