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Smokers in Dorset urged to #QuitforCovid

As new evidence comes to light which suggests that smokers are at greater risk from COVID-19, Public Health Dorset is joining health professionals in calling on smokers to #QuitforCovid and offering free stop-smoking support through LiveWell Dorset.

Last week the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, said that “it is abundantly clear from the research into previous coronaviruses that smoking makes the impact of a coronavirus worse.” Professor John Newton, Public Health England’s director of health, has also stated that in light of the “unprecedented” COVID-19 pandemic, “there has never been a more important time to stop smoking.”

Emerging evidence from China has revealed that smokers with COVID-19 are 14 times more likely to develop severe respiratory disease.

Smoking tobacco is known to damage the lungs and airways causing a range of severe respiratory problems. The evidence clearly shows the COVID-19 virus attacks the respiratory system, which explains why smokers are at greater risk.

In addition, the repetitive hand to mouth movement involved in smoking provides an easy route of entry for the virus, putting smokers at greater risk of contracting COVID-19.

Dr Stuart Burley, Head of Programmes for Public Health Dorset, said:

“Quitting smoking is the single most effective thing you can do to improve your health. Quitting will also help protect others around you and help alleviate the huge pressures on the NHS during this outbreak. It’s never too late to quit, no matter your age, and the benefits are almost immediate. Within 48 hours our lungs begin to clear out mucus and other smoking debris. Carbon monoxide is eliminated from the body and our oxygen supply rapidly improves – which is so important in the fight against COVID-19.”

Cllr Laura Miller, Dorset Council’s Portfolio Holder for Adult Social Care and Health, said:

“Quitting smoking is hugely beneficial for your health at any time, but during the coronavirus outbreak it has become even more important. We know that quitting can be difficult, so we’d encourage Dorset residents to reach out for support through LiveWell Dorset’s stop-smoking offer or to use the range of useful resources that are available online.”

Cllr Lesley Dedman, Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council’s Portfolio Holder for Adults and Health, said:

“Not only will quitting smoking reduce your chances of being seriously affected by this virus, it’ll also help to protect your family, reduce pressure on the NHS and have a range of other health benefits. At this time more than ever, our health is of the highest importance so we hope as many smokers as possible in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole will #QuitforCOVID.”

Local stop smoking services have seen a recent surge in demand as the risks of smoking and COVID-19 become clearer. LiveWell Dorset provides free stop-smoking support through telephone coaching and free postal supplies of nicotine replacement products.

Emma Rossi, LiveWell Dorset Service Manager, said:

“This is a worrying time for all of us but at LiveWell Dorset we’re doing everything we can to help people #QuitforCovid. We’ve been very busy lately, which is great. There’s a lot people currently looking for help to quit smoking and many who haven’t tried to quit before but realise the importance now and are doing really well.”

Whilst some media outlets are reporting that vapers face additional risks from coronavirus, the evidence for this is far less clear. Smokers who have switched to vaping should be reassured that this is better for them than smoking.

Exposure to second-hand smoke is also likely to exacerbate the risks from coronavirus, alongside the other harms it causes. Therefore, smokers who continue to smoke but are unable to go outside to do so should seek alternatives such as nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) or e-cigarettes to protect the people around them.

For free help to quit smoking call LiveWell Dorset on 0800 8401628 / 01305 233105 or visit www.livewelldorset.co.uk.

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