FIVE REASONS TO QUIT SMOKING TO GET COVID-FIT
The world is experiencing the infectious pandemic COVID-19 for the last few months, and the global burden stands approximately 6 million cases till date. Among these, there have been around 4 lakh deaths across the world. Although, it has been noted that the mortality is lower compared to SARS and EBOLA, there have been few groups particularly identified to be more at risk. Among these, elderly age group, people with previous medical conditions (diabetes, hypertension, immunocompromised states) and people who smoke.
Approximately, 1.3 billion people use some form of tobacco every day. Almost, one in five adults smoke some form of tobacco and one person dies every fourth second due to tobacco use directly or indirectly. In India alone, around 1.3 million people die every year due to tobacco use. It is very well established that smoking can cause respiratory diseases, head, neck and lung cancers, stroke, cardiac arrest, peripheral vascular diseases etc. Among the people who smoke, more than 70% express willingness to smoke and try to quit at least once during a year. Of those who quit, approximately two-thirds relapse within a week.
FIVE REASONS WHY SMOKING IS DANGEROUS DURING COVID TIMES
Smoking increases the chances of getting infected with corona virus
It has been noted that people who smoke engage in tobacco seeking behaviours thereby exposing themselves to others, sharing of cigarettes and frequent hand-to-mouth contact during smoking. These factors can lead to higher rate of spread of virus
Smoking can result in increased rate of admissions at ICU
These individuals suffer from chronic lung conditions resulting in higher morbidity during COVID infections requiring admissions at ICU/need for ventilators
Smokers have higher mortality with COVID-19
People who smoke have various comorbid medical conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung cancer, head and neck cancer, stroke, cardiac arrest, peripheral vascular diseases, etc. These individuals are on various treatments and have recorded higher mortality when infected with COVID-19 compared to others
Smokers have severe presentations of COVID infections
People who smoke have compromised local respiratory defenses in their bronchial system along with reduced immunity
Tobacco use can result greater spread of corona infection to others
People who use tobacco usually share the cigarettes among friends, frequently have ‘smoker’s cough’, spit frequently especially among tobacco chewers resulting in higher spread of the virus to the family members and others
The first step to quit smoking is to identify the reason to quit. It is important to understand that when the reason to quit is internally driven, the change would likely sustain for longer period, but if it is due to external force/coercion by others, it is bound to fail. The art of sustaining motivation at high level requires certain preparations for external cues/settings which can lead to lapse/relapse.
FIVE COMMON REASONS PEOPLE CHOSE TO QUIT:
Health concern: The most important factor which drives people to change the attitude towards smoking is concern towards one’s own health or of the family member
Marital discord/Family pressure: Frequent marital discord due to smoking, fights for smoking at home exposing children towards secondary smoke
Financial burden: Constant increase in taxes over these products result in higher monthly expenditure
Public restriction to smoking: With stricter laws to limit smoking in public places
Social stigma/advice from others: Social criticism towards smoking, successful quit attempts by peers motivates change
FIVE REASONS WHY YOU CAN SUCCESSFULLY QUIT DURING COVID-19
People who quit smoking experience intense craving especially in company of other smokers. It is not surprising that during work due to peer pressure, especially at coffee breaks, social gatherings at office exposed to smoking. The current corona crisis can be seen as an opportunity to sustain abstinence taking advantage of work from home routine.
People usually express intense craving only during the first few days of abstinence. As long as the cigarettes are not available, they manage to continue with out them as witnessed during the lockdown. The ease of access towards tobacco and alcohol products would be limited for the next few months which can be used as an opportunity to prevent relapse.
It is very common to notice that people tend to lose their control on urges especially in social events, celebrations, after a meal with alcohol etc. The restrictions to dine out/celebrate/consume alcohol with family/peers outside would help in a way to contain the urges and fight them.
People tend to seek for cigarettes especially when they are tense, nervous, feeling low/anxious. It is a wonderful opportunity being at home to bring some behavioural changes by effective stress reduction strategies like expressing emotions when stressed, doing deep breathing exercises, building active physical routine, practicing mindfulness etc
In Indian culture, the value of family remains central to the individual as well as to society. The family members who were passive enablers for these habits previously would be critical towards smoking due to its ill effects but more so for the immediate danger of risk of corona infections to self and others in the family. These factors would serve as strong negative reinforcements to regulate one’s own behaviour and maintain abstinence.