Smokers in Torbay are being urged to quit to reduce the risks of severe symptoms if they get COVID-19.

We are joining forces with Public Health England and the Chief Medical Officer to encourage people to try to quit smoking to protect themselves and others.

The #QuitforCovid campaign was developed by a GP and is now being supported by the Smokefree Action Coalition led by Action on Smoking and Health (ASH). The Association of Directors of Public Health is also encouraging smokers to quit.

Smoking tobacco damages the lungs, weakens the immune system and causes a range of severe respiratory problems. Evidence so far suggests people who smoke may be at increased risk of severe disease if they get COVID-19.

Cllr Jackie Stockman, Cabinet Member for Adults and Public Health, said: “This is a worrying time for all of us and we are all conscious of the need to protect ourselves and others. We are supporting the #QuitforCovid campaign as there has never been a more important time to quit. It is never too late to see the health benefits of quitting smoking and you're never too old to quit.

“Even if you've tried before and didn't manage don't give up because you can do it. Many smokers try several times before they succeed, but getting the right support and using stop smoking aids to help ease the cravings gives you a much better chance of success.”

Ruth Tennant, Tobacco lead for the Association of Directors of Public Health, said: “There are so many reasons to quit smoking but never a more important time than right now during the coronavirus pandemic. Emerging evidence suggests that smoking puts people more at risk from severe complications from COVID-19, and the ADPH is now supporting efforts to encourage smokers to quit for COVID."

As well as reducing the risks from complications from coronavirus, quitting smoking quickly improves your circulation and your breathing. It also reduces the risks of other health problems such as heart attacks and strokes at a time when the NHS is coming under strain.

In the longer-term quitting is also linked to reduced depression, anxiety, stress, and an improved quality of life.

For support, advice and free tools to quit smoking visit the Smokefree or Today istthe day.co.uk websites.

For more information on COVID-19 visit the NHS or GOV.UK.

Once smokefree, there are very real health benefits with the body continuing to repair the longer you stay smokefree. The immediate benefits include:

  • After 8 hours carbon monoxide levels in blood reduce by more than half and oxygen levels return to normal
  • After 48 hours carbon monoxide is eliminated from the body. Lungs start to clear out mucus and other smoking debris
  • After 72 hours breathing becomes easier as bronchial tubes begin to relax
  • After 2 to 12 weeks lung function and blood circulation starts to improve, making physical activity like walking and running easier
  • After 3 to 9 months any coughs, wheezing or breathing problems will be improving as your lung function increases further

For local support in quitting smoking, contact the local Stop Smoking Service https://www.torbayandsouthdevon.nhs.uk/services/healthy-lifestyles/stop-smoking/ where trained advisers can support your quit and can help you access stop smoking medication on prescription. Alternatively, you can access a local pharmacy who have trained advisers providing support and encouragement to help you stop smoking. For a list of pharmacies, to develop your quit plan or to speak to somebody, get in touch with the Torbay Stop Smoking Service today.


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