Smokers court severe Covid-19 onslaught

Health authorities have urged local government units (LGU) to ramp up the campaign against smoking amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Department of Health Central Visayas (DOH-7) medical officer, Dr. Dino Caing, said smokers who get infected with Covid-19 are likely to get severe symptoms or die because of pneumonia.

In a presser in time for the National No Smoking Month this June, Caing said the government campaign against smoking may have been stalled as medical front-liners are busy combating Covid-19, but the health agency has not stopped promoting the no-smoking drive.

“We should not leave it behind. It’s a proven fact that smokers, those who have pulmonary disease because of smoking are more prone to go to severe form of Covid-19 compared to nonsmokers,” he said, stressing that smokers would likely get damaged lungs.

The pandemic has caused a setback to the government’s nationwide effort to convince Filipinos to quit smoking as many training, seminars and programs did not materialize while medical front-liners and health workers in LGUs are focused on testing, contact-tracing and isolation of coronavirus patients, he said.

The DOH, however, continues to disseminate information on the ill effects of nicotine through virtual platforms, installation of campaign materials such as tarpaulins in strategic places as well as promoting the Civil Service Commission’s (CSC) policy prohibiting smoking in government premises.

CSC Memorandum Circular 17, series of 2009, or the Smoking Prohibition Based on 100 percent Smoke-Free Policy prohibits smoking in the premises, buildings, and grounds of government agencies providing health, education and/or social welfare and development services such as hospitals, health centers, schools, and universities, colleges among others.

“So when you campaign for Covid-19 in your locality, stress that point that if you smoke and if you get Covid-19, you are most likely to die or you go severe which is now very expensive,” Caing stressed.

He pointed out a correlation between Covid-19 and smoking, citing regional statistics showing that before the pandemic, cerebrovascular disease became the number one cause of death that may have been overtaken by pneumonia.

Citing available data, Caing noted that most of the Covid-19 patients in the Central Visayas are males, many of whom are likely to be smokers.