Protecting health during these unprecedented times is paramount, especially for more vulnerable older adults and people with underlying health conditions including heart disease, lung disease and diabetes. If ever there was a time to quit smoking, this period of social distancing during the novel coronavirus pandemic is providing an ideal opportunity to take the leap.
Although more research is needed, the World Health Organization suggests smoking as a risk factor for more severe complications and possibly greater transmission of the COVID-19 virus. Smoking also increases the risk for cancer, heart disease, respiratory infections, stroke and early death, according to a recent McMaster Optimal Aging Portal blog post.
There are many things beyond our control at the moment, but by focusing on what is within our purview, this time and space can be used to improve overall health and well-being. If you are a smoker, it is never too late to reap the benefits of smoking cessation. According to Health Canada, within just 8 hours of your last cigarette, carbon monoxide levels in the blood drop to normal and within 24 hours, the risk for a heart attack starts to drop. By 3 months, the airways relax and breathing becomes easier. The benefits continue over the following months and years.
Going cold-turkey is not necessary; there are many nicotine replacement therapies to help smokers gradually wean off their addiction. Ask your pharmacist for recommendations and if your health care plan offers discounts or no-charge products. There are a number of online support groups to help support the journey to becoming smoke-free. Counselling through a telehealth provider can also improve the chances of sticking with quitting smoking, you don’t have to go through it alone.
Learn more tips for quitting smoking successfully by following this link to the Mayo Clinic website.