To the editor:
We all know that smoking is harmful to one’s lungs. As our lives are disrupted by the coronavirus, this fact raises concerns about the damaging impact COVID-19 may have on those who smoke or vape. Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, said, “Because it attacks the lungs, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 could be an especially serious threat to those who smoke tobacco or marijuana or who vape.” While the long-term impact of vaping is not clear, there is evidence coming out that vaping, like smoking, harms the ability of the lungs to fight infection.
Despite the stressful times we’re living in, people who smoke or vape may want to quit to improve their ability to fight the coronavirus. The stress may have led others to relapse and start smoking or vaping again. It’s never too late to try to quit.
People who smoke and vape know how hard it is to quit because nicotine, the drug in tobacco and vaping products, is highly addictive. Repeated tobacco and nicotine use is not a habit; it’s an addiction and quitting can take several tries before one can quit for good. Many tobacco users say quitting is the hardest thing they’ve ever done; however, with planning, support and dedication, many people quit for good.
Now may be a good time for those who smoke or vape to call the Massachusetts Smokers’ Helpline at 1-800-QUIT NOW (1-800-784-8669) for free coaching and support 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Enroll online, access quit-planning tools, peer support and motivational text messages at KeepTryingMA.org.
Up to eight weeks of free nicotine replacement help from patches, gum or lozenges is available through the helpline (with medical eligibility). With coaching and quit medication, people can be twice as likely to quit for good compared to those who try to quit on their own.
Quitting improves one’s health right away: Lungs start to heal, and the body starts to repair its ability to fight infection. For more information, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW or visit KeepTryingMA.org.
The writer is the program manager for the Berkshire Tobacco-Free Community Partnership at the Berkshire Area Health Education Center.