DOH asks smokers, vapers to quit as studies show higher rates of COVID-19 infection, use of ventilators

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 08 2020 06:50 PM | Updated as of Apr 08 2020 10:53 PM

MANILA — Smokers are more likely to be infected by COVID-19 and to end up using ventilators once admitted to hospitals, the Department of Health said on Wednesday.

“Smoking is known to weaken the immune system, making it less able to respond to infections,” Dr. Beverly Ho, special assistant to the health secretary, said during a televised DOH briefing.

Ho said that according to the World Health Organization, “smokers contract more respiratory ailments, including colds, which also belong to the coronavirus family.”

She said there have also been studies about how smokers are more at risk when it comes to the spread of the new strain of coronavirus.

“Sa isa sa mga pinakamalaking pag-aaral ng COVID-19 patients sa Tsina, smokers comprise more than 25% of those who needed mechanical ventilation and admission to intensive care unit or died,” Ho said.

(One of the comprehensive studies of COVID-19 patients in China showed that smokers comprise more than 25% of those who needed mechanical ventilation and admission to intensive care unit or died.)

“Exhaled air through smoking and vaping is not safe,” she added. “Base sa mga laboratory experiments, sinasabi ng mga scientists that some form of spread by air is playing a role in the transmission of the coronavirus.”

(Based on laboratory experiments, scientists say that air that is spread is playing a role in the transmission of the coronavirus.)

The health official further pointed out that majority of the 3,870 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Philippines were elderly and male.

Based on government data, 42 percent of adult Filipino men are smokers while a million Filipinos use e-cigarettes of vaping devices. 

“WHO also said the act of smoking means that the fingers and possibly contaminated cigarette are in contact with lips, which increases the possibility of transmission o the virus from hand to mouth, making the smoker more vulnerable to COVID-19,” Ho said.

Because of this, the health department called on smokers to quit in order to protect their health.

“We are also reminding the general public to avoid second-hand smoke from vape or regular cigarettes,” Ho said.

The Philippine government has already banned smoking and vaping in public places.