Smokers on the Central Coast are being urged to quit ahead of World No Tobacco Day to avoid the risk posed to them by COVID–19.
The advice comes from Central Coast Local Health District’s Health Promotion Service ahead of the annual awareness day on Sunday 31st May.
Dr Lyndon Bauer, the service’s research and evaluation officer and a local GP, warns the evidence suggests that smokers are more susceptible to developing more severe disease with COVID-19, compared to non-smokers.
“We know from previous viral respiratory infections that the damage caused by smoking to both your lungs and your immune system means you’re likely to have more severe symptoms,” Dr Bauer says.
“This increased risk of severe symptoms if you develop COVID-19 means it’s more important this year than ever to quit smoking – and what better opportunity than World No Tobacco Day to kick the habit.”
Organised annually by the World Health Organization, this year’s World No Tobacco Day theme is focused on protecting younger people from industry manipulation that attracts them to nicotine and tobacco products.
Smoking rates amongst adults on the Central Coast (14.5%) are currently on a par with rates across New South Wales as a whole (14.8%), and have fallen more than 40% over the last 15 years (down from 24.5% in 2003).
Dr Bauer says the benefits of quitting can be almost immediate.
“For smokers who are worried about the impact it can have on their health, it’s important to know you can begin to see the benefits of quitting smoking almost immediately.
“If you’re looking to quit, help is out there. Quitline advisors can provide free, evidence-based support, while nicotine replacement therapy, which you can get prescribed by your GP or purchase over the counter in supermarkets and pharmacies, is also proven to be very effective.
For support to quit smoking, call Quitline on 13 QUIT (13 7848) or visit www.icanquit.com.au for more information and resources.