The respiratory system extends from the nose and upper airway to the alveolar surface (air sac) of the lungs, where gas exchange occurs. Inhaled tobacco smoke moves from the mouth through the upper air corridor, ultimately reaching the alveolus (air sacs) which is the terminal end of your breathing system.
The impact of smoke on human health is a critical issue worldwide. As the smoke moves into the respiratory tract, more soluble gases are adsorbed and particles are deposited in the airways and alveoli. Complex inflammatory processes and changes in the immune system are triggered which leads to disorders like chronic obstructive lung disease (COPD), lung cancer, atherosclerosis and other diseases. The substantial doses of carcinogens and toxins delivered to these sites place smokers at risk for malignant and non-malignant diseases involving all components of the respiratory tract including the mouth.
Relation between smoking tobacco and COVID-19 has been controversial, and there is an urgent need for definitive answers. An early systematic review without meta-analysis concluded that smoking is most likely associated with negative progression and outcomes in COVID-19, different meta-analyses have shown an increased risk of severe COVID-19.
Furthermore, as a result of several non-peer reviewed preprint articles falsely equating the prevalence of smoking in COVID-19 study populations with population estimates for smoking prevalence, there has been widespread attention paid to recent mass media reports that smoking may exert a protective effect against COVID-19 infection. This led to the World Health Organization releasing a statement on urging caution with regards to these claims, and emphasizing the lack of evidence confirming a link between smoking or nicotine in the prevention or treatment of COVID-19. Consequently, there remains a distinct lack of clarity and high-quality evidence regarding the relationship between smoking and the severity of COVID-19.
The largest data available amongst reviewed literature, reports that both current smoking and a smoking history significantly increased COVID-19 severity, whilst smoking history also significantly increased mortality risk and suggests that smoking represents one of the most immediately modifiable risk factors to reduce the substantial morbidity associated with the disease.
In light of this finding, governments, policymakers, and other key stakeholders must ensure that appropriate measures are taken to support and maintain smoking cessation to protect vulnerable populations and reduce the strain placed on healthcare systems working at full capacity during this pandemic.
In spite of knowing the health risks of smoking, but surely that doesn’t make it any unchallenging to knock the habit. Whether you’re an occasional teen smoker or a lifetime pack-a-day smoker, quitting can be really tough. Smoking is also ingrained as a daily ritual. It may be an automatic response for you to smoke a cigarette with your morning tea , while taking a break at work or school, or at home at the end of a hectic day. Or maybe your friends, or colleagues smoke, and it’s become part of the way you relate with them. Many of us smoke to manage unpleasant feelings such as stress, depression, loneliness, and anxiety. When you have a bad day, it can seem like cigarettes are your only friend. As much comfort as cigarettes provide, though, it’s important to remember that there are healthier and more effective ways to keep unpleasant feelings in check. These may include exercising, meditating, relaxation strategies or simple breathing exercises.
To successfully stop smoking, you’ll need to address the addiction, the habits and routines that go along with it which can be done. With the right support and a strong dedicated quit plan, any smoker can kick the addiction even if you’ve tried and failed multiple times before.
Think positive make a plan to quit smoking. Identify when you crave for cigarettes ( cravings usually begin to lessen in strength and frequency after the first week, and are usually gone completely in one to three months). Distraction is the best way to do away with craving. You can get some stop smoking support like nicotine replacement therapy or seek expert.
Dr Farooq Ahmad Ganie
Cardiovascular Thoracic surgery