SANDRA MACHIMA writes
RESEACHERS have warned those snuffing tobacco popularly known as nsunko and practising vaping to stop as they are putting their respiratory systems at a great risk.
Centre for Primary Care Research at the University of Zambia School of Medicine professor Fastone Goma said researchers had embarked on a research programme they felt would be vital for people to be aware of the serious potential risks associated with smoking or vaping in the wake of COVID-19 outbreak.
He urged the Ministry of Health to accelerate efforts towards bringing a bill to parliament aimed at curbing all the diseases beyond COVID-19 for Zambia to have a healthy population.
According to emerging evidence from China, smokers with COVID-19 were 14 times more likely to develop severe respiratory diseases in an event where lungs and airways were already damaged.
Prof Goma feared that the situation in Zambia might pose a great danger because more than two million people were alleged to be smokers.
That was a burden on the healthcare system.
Over 4,000 chemicals found in tobacco, he said, had the potential to cause harm to the user’s health, with nicotine being the main ingredient causes serious damage to heart and breeds blood pressure problems.
Prof Goma said research had shown that most of the smokers were prone to severe COVID-19 infections and required intensive medical interventions with about 12.3 percent being admitted to intensive care unit, compared to non-smokers who were standing at 4.7percent.
“We are now faced with the COVID-19 pandemic and we are even more concerned about its impact on Zambia’s two million smokers and our health system,” he said.
Prof Goma advised Zambians to adhere to the guidelines Government had announced to protect themselves from any eventualities.
“We are encouraged by the Health Minister, Dr. Chitalu Chilufya, and his team for shedding more light on this matter and advocating zero tolerance to tobacco consumption in the light of this pandemic,” he said.