By Jensen, Randy on June 5, 2020.
ALBERTA HEALTH SERVICES
A participant from a previous quit core group shared that he unexpectedly lost his job on the day he planned to quit smoking. He went on to explain he could have easily used this as a reason/excuse to not quit, but instead he changed his thinking. He told himself, this is a good time to quit smoking because “all the stress from work is gone!” He has been smoke-free for many years now.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a stressful time. You may have been ready to quit smoking or vaping but the unexpected stress ruined your plan. Maybe now you are growing concerned because your smoking/vaping has increased if you are spending more time at home. But for some it could be harder to smoke or vape if you’re home more and you are somewhat surprised at how little you are smoking. Either way, it could be a good time to give quitting a try.
In one of her daily updates, our Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, reported quitting smoking and vaping can improve your health and lower your risks if you get the COVID-19 virus. Dr. Hinshaw referred to the AlbertaQuits website for information and quitting support.
Here are the “Smoking, Vaping and COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions” taken from http://www.albertaquits.ca:
Do I have a higher risk of getting COVID-19 if I smoke or vape?
When you smoke or vape tobacco, cannabis, or e-cigarettes, you touch your mouth and lips often. This makes it easier to catch a virus from your hands. Sharing cigarettes, joints, vapes, or hookah products can also spread the COVID-19 virus from one person to another. We also know you have a higher risk of lung infections if you smoke. This is important to know because COVID-19 is an infection that mainly affects the lungs.
What can I do to lower my risk of COVID-19 if I smoke or vape?
If you smoke, there are ways to lower your risk of COVID-19:
– Wash your hands well with soap and water before and after you smoke or vape;
– Don’t smoke or vape in groups;
– Don’t share smoking or vaping products; and
– To protect the lung health of others you live with, go outside to smoke or vape.
You may already be thinking about quitting. Quitting can lower your risk of COVID-19.
If I smoke or vape, am I more likely to get really sick from COVID-19?
New research suggests if you smoke, you’re more likely to have worse symptoms and outcomes with COVID-19. This means you may need treatment in a hospital, such as needing oxygen and help with breathing.
Research shows vaping damages the lungs and may even cause lung disease. More research is still needed, but it’s possible that symptoms of COVID-19 may be more serious if you vape.
Is it a good idea to quit smoking or vaping during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Yes. Quitting smoking or vaping can improve your lung and heart health. These health benefits happen almost right away. Quitting smoking or vaping can also protect you from lung infections and help you recover from them.
If you use vaping to help you quit smoking, it’s best if you quit vaping as well to protect your health.
This may feel like a very stressful time to try to quit smoking. But research shows quitting smoking can also improve your mental health. If you’re having trouble coping or dealing with stress, call >the >Mental Health Helpline at 1-877-303-2642. The Helpline is free, confidential, and available 24 hours a day.
What is the difference between nicotine withdrawal symptoms and COVID-19 symptoms?
When you quit smoking or using vaping products with nicotine, you may have nicotine withdrawal symptoms such as: cravings for nicotine; getting upset easily (irritability); and trouble concentrating.
These symptoms don’t usually last long and go away after about two to four weeks. >
A cough and sore throat are also symptoms of nicotine withdrawal. If you have a cough or sore throat, you may worry about COVID-19. So it’s important to remember these symptoms can also happen when you quit smoking or using vaping products with nicotine. Fever is a symptom of COVID-19 but it isn’t a symptom of nicotine withdrawal.
What supports are available to help me quit?
There are many supports to help you quit smoking or vaping. These include: nicotine replacement therapy (such as patches or gum); prescription medicines; and counselling.
You are more likely to actually quit smoking when you take prescription medicine to help you quit and have counselling. Talk to your pharmacist or doctor to see if they offer phone support. They can also answer any questions you have about quitting smoking and the options to help you quit.
You can also get information and support from AlbertaQuits. Call 1-866-710-QUIT (7848). Free and confidential support is available from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week. Text ABQUITS to 123456.
Rita Aman is a Health Promotion Facilitator with Alberta Health Services and can be reached by email at Rita.email@example.com