Most smokers in Vizag quitting during Covid-19

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Of those who had quit in the previous four months, said it was in direct response to coronavirus. Government advice says smokers may be at risk of more severe Covid-19 symptoms. And of course, pandemic had played a role in their decision. That may have been down to a range of factors including health concerns, access to tobacco while isolating or no longer smoking socially. Doctors in the city opine that smokers with positive Covid-19 test were more than twice as likely as non-smokers with coronavirus to be hospitalised and 1.8 times more likely to die.

Those facing withdrawal symptoms post lockdown announcement have now completely quit smoking. Though many were planning to quit, they were unable to due to easy access. However, staying at home has compelled them to control the urge and quit smoking altogether. In many families, people would not smoke at home out of a sense of respect for their elders or because of the absence of social cues of parties and post-lunch tea breaks with colleagues.

“I have been trying to quit smoking for quite some time now. It was always one of those stop and start affairs. What the lockdown did to me is to bring things into perspective, a moment of quiet reflection in the middle of a pandemic, on how much I prioritise my health. I had never spent so much time at home. It gave me enough time to think: if not now, then when?” says Rajesh, a techie from Cognizant told to Hello Vizag. Moreover, doctors suggested that smokers were 14 per cent more likely than non-smokers to develop the three ‘classic’ symptoms of Coronavirus infection – fever, persistent cough and shortness of breath.

An official release from WHO said, “The available evidence suggests that smoking is associated with increased severity of disease and death in hospitalised Covid-19 patients.” “It is not the normal 9-to-5 job in the creative industry; you always have to be ideating. After crazy meetings and brainstorming, you could leave all of it aside for a little while, to have a smoke,” said Jhon Wilson, who works Shine Advertisement agency.

Psychiatrist Dr. K Chandra Sekhar, has been speaking with people online who have been looking to quit during lockdown. For the first week, the questions were mostly around dealing with withdrawal symptoms and sourcing nicotine patches. Eight weeks down the line, a couple of them tell him they have not relapsed. “The reason you quit is very important. If it is just because cigarettes are not available at this point of time, or there is a compulsion to be at home, it is never going to last. But if they were meaning to quit before this, and see the lockdown as an opportunity, then giving up will be easier,” he says.

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