Kashmir Indepth

Covid tales: At least 15 percent chain smokers quit smoking, regular sessions by doctors play major role

Ishtiyaq Ahmed

Srinagar, June 2 (KINS): As the medicos press Covid alarm for those having addiction to smoking, preliminary data collected from Jammu and Kashmir Union territory suggest that 15 percent smokers have quit smoking out of the fear of catching deadly pandemic.

A senior doctor at the Chest disease hospital said that since the advisory for protection from Covid was issued which highlights the need of quitting the smoking, 243 patients who were all smokers have quit smoking just because they thought they would catch the virus. “Majority of the people out of 243 were in the age group of 20 to 50. We also explained them that how smoking can make them vulnerable to Covid-19 pandemic. We are glad to see change in the people in times of pandemic,” the doctor told news agency KINS.

Dr Aijaz Ahmad, who is posted in a hospital in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district, also said that since the outbreak of pandemic on March 30, he must have counselled some 180 people alone at the hospital, who were chain smokers. “There were some teenagers too and I am glad to put it on record that all my patients have quit smoking out of the fear of getting coronavirus,” the doctor said.

Shabir Ahmed, a resident of Bemina area of Srinagar, has not quit smoking 100 percent but is on way to quit it in the days or weeks ahead. “On a normal day, I would puff at least 15 cigarettes a day but after getting back to back advices from my doctor, I consume only two to three cigarettes a day and I am sure that in a week or two, I would be able to leave smoking,” he said, adding that his doctor continued to counsel him amid strong message that how continuous smoking can push his life into a big danger as he “would become vulnerable to Covid-19,”

It is pertinent to mention here that more than 3,00,000 persons in the UK have quit smoking during the coronavirus pandemic, amid fears that cigarettes may make a person more vulnerable to Covid-19 infection as suggested by a study.

According to a survey of UK smokers, many have quit smoking in recent months or are thinking on leaving it because of coronavirus.

The survey of UK adults conducted by YouGov and the campaign group Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) suggests that a further 550,000 smokers have tried to quit, and 2.4 million have cut down.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has also suggested that smokers are more vulnerable to COVID-19, as their fingers are frequently in contact with their lips, increasing the likelihood of the virus being transmitted from their hands.

Smokers may also already have lung problems and reduced breathing capacity, which could impact their ability to battle coronavirus. Apart from that, a small study from China found that COVID-19 sufferers who smoke are significantly more likely to develop severe pneumonia, reports WFP.

President of the Private Diagnostic Centers Association (PDCA) Kashmir Umar Dhar said he meets almost 500 people every day. “Many patients told me that they have quit smoking. I have been counting patients and keep a record at my laboratory since the outbreak of pandemic. 1056 patients, who were chain smokers, have quit smoking while as 2755 are on way to quit it in the days, weeks or months ahead,” he said. “I believe 10 to 15 per cent people in Kashmir have quit smoking out the fear of catching Covid-19.”(KINS)

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