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Tobacco risks amidst the COVID-19 pandemic

31 May 2021 – According to the World Health Organization, tobacco causes 8 million deaths every year. To make the population aware of risks of smoking, May 31st has been declared the World No Tobacco Day. The date, already very important, becomes even more essential as recent evidence shows that smokers are more likely to develop severe cases of COVID-19 and die.

On 29 April 2020, a review of studies by public health experts convened by the WHO found that smokers are more likely to develop more severe cases of coronavirus when compared against nonsmokers. That happens because COVID-19 is an infectious disease that attacks mainly the lungs and smoking is a risk factor for many respiratory infections, because it damages the lungs, thus increasing the severity of respiratory diseases. In other words, smoking decreases lung function, making it harder for the body to fight coronavirus and other diseases.

According to information from the National Cancer Institute (INCA), tobacco is also related to approximately 50 diseases, including several types of cancer (lung, larynx, pharynx, esophagus, stomach, pancreas, liver, kidney, bladder, cervix, leukemia), respiratory diseases (pulmonary emphysema, chronic bronchitis, asthma, respiratory infections) and cardiovascular diseases (angina, acute myocardial infarction, arterial hypertension, aneurysms, stroke, thrombosis). Such diseases are the comorbidities we hear so much about in the news, which put people at greater risk if they are affected by the coronavirus

Given this situation, it is essential to look for ways to overcome cigarettes, not only because it makes those who use it more vulnerable to COVID-19, but because its use alone causes various health problems. The challenge is tough, but the Unified Health System (SUS) offers free treatment for those who wish to quit smoking. The initiative is carried out through the National Tobacco Control Program (PNCT). The program is managed by the Ministry of Health in partnership with INCA and reaches all Brazilian states and the Federal District. Click here and find out where you can find smoking cessation treatment near you.

Source: World Health Organization and Instituto Nacional do Cancer (INCA).

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