Philippines: Duque tells smokers, vapers: Quit now, you’re at risk from Covid-19

3 April 2020
Claudeth Mocon-Ciriaco
Business Mirror

HEALTH Secretary Francisco T. Duque III appealed to smokers and vapers to stop immediately for they may be at a higher risk for severe illness from Covid-19

Although the World Health Organization (WHO) has yet to establish with finality whether people who vape are at a higher risk, Duque said that it is important for vapers to quit.

“We know that smokers, they are still  at risk. Why? Because it weakens the lungs and its bodily functions. This will make it difficult for them to to heal if [they]  are infected by Covid-19,” Duque said at the regular virtual press conference of the Department of Health (DOH).

Instead, he urged them to take care of their health by eating vegetables, fruits and exercise everyday.

Earlier, the Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA) warned that the pandemic is an opportune time for smokers and vapers to quit their habit.

“The World Health Organization clearly states that smoking and vaping are undoubtedly harmful. Given the available evidence about Covid-19, people who smoke or vape should quit now to reduce their risk of infection and severe lung damage. Furthermore, smokers and vapers, who are asymptomatic carriers of the virus, can easily transmit the virus to those around them through secondhand smoke or aerosol exposure,” said Dr. Ulysses Dorotheo, executive director of SEATCA.

The Covid-19 virus attacks the lungs, and medical experts agree that weakened lungs and immune systems predispose one’s body to higher risks of severe respiratory illness caused by Covid-19.

People who smoke, vape, or have substance use disorders could be particularly vulnerable to Covid-19, according to the US National Institute on Drug Abuse.

More than 40 countries already ban the sale of e-cigarettes and HTPs, including five Asean countries: Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Singapore and Thailand. Tobacco use remains one of the world’s leading causes of preventable premature death.

In the Asean region where half of all adult men smoke, tobacco use kills about 500,000 people annually. Worldwide, tobacco kills more than 8 million people annually.