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Smoking is associated with lung damage and there are few studies that suggest that coronavirus infection is more common in smokers and those with underlying lung disease.

New Delhi: The temporary ban on the sale of tobacco products during the lockdown period in order to slow the spread of coronavirus has helped reduce the consumption of tobacco. This is so because it can damage your lungs. Moreover, coronavirus affects the functioning of the lungs, and smokers are at a greater risk of getting sick from it. Hence, it is the need of the hour to say ‘NO’, to tobacco. Dr Sanket Shah, Surgical Oncologist, Apollo Spectra hospital Mumbai, in this article, shares why the lockdown is perhaps the best time to quit smoking, and how you can make it a reality.

Coronaviruses (CoV) belong to a large family of viruses that may lead to respiratory illnesses, ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). Earlier this year, a new strain of coronavirus was discovered, which has not been previously identified in human beings, also known as a novel coronavirus (nCov). COVID-19 is a virus that causes respiratory disease and in serious cases, it can lead to pneumonia. In the wake of coronavirus, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has imposed a nationwide lockdown to slow the spread of the coronavirus. COVID-19 infection is more severe in elderly patients and those with comorbidities and respiratory problems. Smoking is also associated with lung damage and there are few studies that suggest that coronavirus infection is more common in smokers and those with underlying lung disease.

How the lockdown has reduced the use of tobacco

There was also a ban on the sale of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco (pan, gutka,etc.) consumption during the lockdown. People with a habit of smokeless tobacco consumption have a habit of spitting in public places which were strictly punishable during the lockdown. Reportedly, a survey conducted by a foundation for the smoke-free world,  in the 1st half of April revealed that 66% of Indians in the age group of 18-69 desired to quit smoking for health reasons and 63% actually made an attempt to quit smoking and 72% of younger patients in age 18-24 years attempted to quit smoking. Also, due to lack of availability of smokeless tobacco, strict punishment on spitting in public places, and fear the consumption of smokeless tobacco has also decreased during the period of lockdown. Such people have resorted to healthier coping mechanisms like physical or breathing exercises, yoga, and meditation. Thus, during the lockdown in India, tobacco consumption has reduced and more people are considering healthier habits due to fear of contracting the COVID infection.

Follow these foolproof strategies to quit smoking

  1.  To resist tobacco cravings, you should avoid triggers: Identify your triggers. For example- do you smoke when you are stressed or feeling low? Have a plan in place to manage your tobacco cravings. Do you tend to smoke while working from home then just make a note of it and try to avoid those triggers?
  2.  Opt for sugarless gum: To curb tobacco craving, chew on hard candy, or a sugarless gum while you are at home. Opting for something crunchy such as carrot can be a good option too.
  3. Distraction can be helpful: If you tend to fall prey to that tobacco craving then you must distract yourself by doing what makes you happy. Try to create a smoke-free zone at home, you can listen to music, paint, read, or do gardening at home. Stay away from other friends and family members of the family who smoke.
  4. Stay physically active: To cut down on your cravings, exercise on a daily basis. You can do any exercise of your choice like walking, aerobics and practice relaxation techniques such as yoga, deep-breathing exercises and meditation. This will help you reduce stress and anxiety as well. This will help you ease your anger, restlessness, fatigue, headaches, insomnia, and frustration. As it is essential to manage your withdrawal symptoms. It is also rewarding yourself from time to time to stay motivated.
  5. Smoking cessation therapy: Try an online smoking cessation program, opt for counselling, educate yourself and understand the ill-effects of smoking. Speak to someone who has successfully quit tobacco. This will also, help you improve your self-esteem.

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