SMOKERS are being urged to quit to reduce the risks of severe symptoms if they get COVID-19.
Cheshire West and Chester Council and its commissioned stop smoking service provider, Brio Leisure are working with local partners to support the Public Health England message to encourage people to quit smoking.
The Council is now backing the #QuitforCovid campaign which was developed by a GP and is now being supported by the Smokefree Action Coalition, led by Action on Smoking and Health (ASH). The Association of Directors of Public Health is also encouraging smokers to quit to help protect themselves and others.
Smoking tobacco damages the lungs, weakens the immune system and causes a range of severe respiratory problems. Evidence so far suggests people who smoke may be at increased risk of severe disease if they get COVID-19.
Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Public Health at Cheshire West and Chester Council, Councillor Val Armstrong said: “This is a worrying time for all of us and we are all conscious of the need to protect ourselves, to protect others. Quitting smoking is a very good way to help reduce your chances of hospital admission, if you contract coronavirus.
“We are supporting the #QuitforCovid campaign as there has never been a more important time to quit smoking than right now. It is never too late to see health benefits of quitting smoking and you’re never too old to quit.
Elly McFahn from Brio Leisure said “We are still operating a local stop smoking service for our eligible population groups*, offering telephone support and posting out Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) to our clients. The service is working well and lots of residents are keen to quit now more than ever.
“Even if you’ve tried to give up smoking in the past and didn’t manage it, don’t give up on quitting because you can do it. Many smokers try several times before they succeed. By getting the right support and using stop smoking aids to help ease the cravings, can give you a much better chance of success.”
As well as reducing the risks from complications from coronavirus, quitting smoking quickly improves your circulation and your breathing. It also reduces the risks of other health problems such as heart attacks and strokes at a time when the NHS is coming under strain.
In the long term, quitting is also linked to reduced depression, anxiety, and stress and improved positive mood and quality of life, compared with continuing to smoke.
Once smoke-free, there are real health benefits, with the body continuing to repair the longer you stay smoke-free. The immediate benefits include:
• After 8 hours carbon monoxide levels in blood reduce by more than half and oxygen levels return to normal.
• After 48 hours carbon monoxide is eliminated from the body. Lungs start to clear out mucus and other smoking debris.
• After 72 hours breathing becomes easier as bronchial tubes begin to relax.
• After 2 to 12 weeks lung function and blood circulation starts to improve, making physical activity like walking and running easier.
• After 3 to 9 months any coughs, wheezing or breathing problems will be improving as your lung function increases further.
*The Brio Leisure service is free to pregnant women, those with a mental health condition, children and young adults aged 13-18 years old, residents with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and residents registered with GP practices in Ellesmere Port, Winsford, Chester South and St Werburgh’s Medical Practice for the Homeless.