Smoking increases COVID-19 risk

May 28, 2020

Cigarette smokers are more at risk of contracting severe diseases, including COVID-19, the Department of Health said today.


The department made the remarks as the Tobacco & Alcohol Control Office held a press conference this morning on the correlation between smoking and the coronavirus.


Office head Dr Fung Ying explained that conventional cigarettes, the most common form of tobacco in Hong Kong, contain carcinogens that erode the body’s immunity to diseases.


“The toxicants in conventional cigarettes will lower body resistance and they also cause a hypoxic state in general because they constrict vessels and weaken the immune system.


“So overall, smokers have a high risk of respiratory infection, they are also at high risk of severe diseases. That is true for many infectious diseases, not only this coronavirus.


“Smoking will weaken the body's immune system and it also causes damage to body cells that will weaken the body’s ability to withstand the stress from infections.”


Dr Fung also warned that those who partake in waterpipe smoking are exposed to the same toxic chemicals found in conventional cigarettes.


She added that due to its design, waterpipe smokers may inhale even more toxins which accelerates the spread of infectious diseases.


“It contains similar toxicants as conventional cigarettes so these toxicants will weaken your immune system and weaken your respiratory system.


“Secondly, because the apparatus of the waterpipe has many parts, it’s very difficult to disinfect these parts after use.


“And also, because there’s a water bowl and steam, it facilitates the growth and spread of microorganisms. So overall, waterpipe smoking increases the risk of spread of infectious diseases.”

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