Tobacco use worsens the impact of COVID-19

Letters to the Editor

Tobacco use worsens the impact of COVID-19

Friday, March 27, 2020

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Dear Editor,

As Jamaicans come to terms with the unfolding realities of the global health crisis which is the 2019 novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, the Jamaica Coalition for Tobacco Control asks that we not forget those who smoke or use tobacco, and especially our youth, who are most susceptible to the marketing tactics of the tobacco industry.

Most people infected with COVID-19 will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness.

It is already well-established that tobacco use greatly increases the risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder. Recent studies conducted in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak now show that smokers who have been infected with the coronavirus are at greater risk of developing severe disease, including respiratory failure, and are more likely to be hospitalised or even die compared to non-smokers.

The World Health Organization has stated that smoking can increase an individual's risk of developing severe disease if he or she becomes infected with COVID-19. Studies have shown that vaping also causes respiratory illness.

The Jamaica Coalition for Tobacco Control is reminding all Jamaicans to protect themselves from exposure to tobacco products, including e-cigarettes and tobacco smoke. More information is available via the Ministry of Health and Wellness. Those who wish to quit smoking may contact the National Council on Drug Abuse at 1-876-564-HELP (4357).

As we continue to work towards a tobacco-free Jamaica, please be reminded that smoking kills.

Dr Aggrey Irons


Jamaica Coalition for Tobacco Control

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