“This is your time to quit!” – MoPH to tobacco users

users more vulnerable to complicated form of COVID-19

DPI, Guyana, Sunday, May 31, 2020

The Ministry of Public Health has joined with the World Health Organisation (WHO) in encouraging tobacco users to quit smoking immediately.

This was disclosed by the Ministry’s Chronic Diseases Coordinator and Secretary of Guyana’s Tobacco Control Council, Dr. Kavita Singh.

Coordinator of the Ministry of Public Health’s Chronic Diseases Programme and Secretary of the Tobacco Council, Dr. Kavita Singh

Dr. Singh said given the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic is widespread and can severely affect those with underlying health issues, this is an opportune time for smokers to give up smoking since it can result in their lives being saved.

“During this pandemic, those who are affected by a Non-Communicable Disease or those at risk of developing Non-Communicable Diseases are more vulnerable to becoming infected by the COVID-19 and tobacco use is a risk factor for developing an NCD,” Dr. Singh explained

The WHO has also noted that tobacco smoking is a known risk factor for many respiratory infections and increases the severity of respiratory diseases. COVID-19 is a disease which attacks the respiratory system and any coinfection of respiratory disease can have deadly results.

Smoking weakens lung function making it harder for the human body to fight off diseases like COVID-19 that primarily attack the lungs.

In early May, the WHO had explained that quitting smoking has direct benefits which will reduce an individual’s chance of becoming severely ill.

It stated that within 20 minutes of quitting, elevated heart rate and blood pressure drops. After 12 hours, the carbon monoxide level in the bloodstream drops to normal. Within 2-12 weeks, circulation improves and lung function increases. After 1-9 months, coughing and shortness of breath decrease.

Meanwhile, the Public Health Ministry has implemented a programme for persons who wish to stop the habit of smoking.

“The Mental Health Unit along with the Chronic Diseases Unit developed a Tobacco Cessation Programme and there are 15 health care professionals who have been trained to impart tobacco cessation services to those who are desirous of quitting,” Dr Singh explained.

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