The Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development (PLCPD) joins health authorities in urging smokers and vapers to quit now, commends local government units (LGUs) who have banned and are moving to ban the sale and use of tobacco products during the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine that was prompted by the Covid-19 pandemic, and urges other LGUs to do the same.
One in four Filipino adults smoke. One in three Filipinos die due to the four most fatal non-communicable diseases related to tobacco use before reaching the age of 70. The country loses 314 billion pesos each year due to the top four smoking-related diseases. This burden of tobacco use on people’s health is exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Another emerging concern is the use of electronic cigarettes, which, a growing body of evidence suggests, poses equally serious risks to lung health.
The novel coronavirus does not discriminate on its targets. Nonetheless, the toll of the disease on the person depends on one’s health and immunity. The virus attacks the respiratory system. Smoking, which weakens the lungs and causes serious illnesses, puts smokers and those who are exposed to second- and third-hand smoke at greater risk of experiencing severe complications from the disease. The same goes for other activities that compromise lung health, including vaping.
In addition, smoking and vaping entail frequent hand-to-mouth contact, which is contrary to established preventive measures against the coronavirus.
Simply put, smokers and vapers are pre-disposed to severe suffering from Covid-19.
On the other hand, studies have shown that lung health improves even within days after quitting smoking. Thus, it is never too late to quit smoking and vaping. In fact, this may be the best time to quit because it immediately reduces one’s risk of severe illness from Covid-19.
PLCPD believes that a truly smoke-free environment will help decrease vulnerabilities of the people to Covid-19 and similar pandemics in the future. With this, it is our hope that lessons from this Covid-19 pandemic will guide legislators in crafting strong tobacco control and regulatory laws with public health in mind.