The Ministry of health has warned media houses against misreporting that tobacco us can cure corona virus.
The warning comes as the Uganda prepares to celebrate World No Tobacco Day on 31st May. The World Health Organization (WHO) designates 31st May of each year as the World No Tobacco Day (WNTD). The theme of WNTD 2020 is “Protecting youth from industry manipulation and preventing them from tobacco and nicotine use”.
Last month on 24th April one of the media outlets in Uganda, “The Red Pepper” carried a misleading headline that read “Tobacco Offers Corona Cure Hope”. The Ministry of Health found this derogatory and a means of undermining the COVID-19 and tobacco control efforts in Uganda.
“The Ministry of Health wishes to inform all Ugandans that Tobacco is dangerous in all its forms. Tobacco use has a huge impact on respiratory health and is the most common cause of lung cancer, “Patience Butesi an official from ministry of health promotion has warned.
“It is also one of highest risk-factor for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) which causes the swelling and rupturing of the air sacs in the lungs. Exposure to tobacco reduces the lung’s capacity to take in oxygen and expel carbon dioxide which leads to the build-up of mucus, resulting in painful coughing and breathing difficulties. This has implications for smokers given that the virus that causes COVID-19 primarily affects the respiratory system often causing mild to severe respiratory damage resulting in fatality,”she explained.
She further stressed that tobacco use increases the risk of suffering from serious symptoms due to COVID-19 illness.
“Research indicates that, compared to non-smokers, having a history of smoking may substantially increase the chances of adverse health outcomes for COVID-19 patients which usually requires admission to intensive care, mechanical ventilation and suffering severe health consequences. Evidence from China, where COVID-19 originated, shows that people who have cardiovascular and respiratory conditions caused by tobacco use, or otherwise, were at higher risk of developing severe COVID-19 symptoms,”Butesi said.
She added that smoking is already a known risk-factor for many other respiratory infections, including colds, influenza, pneumonia and tuberculosis. Smoking is also associated with increased development of acute respiratory distress syndrome, a key complication for severe cases of COVID-19, among people with severe respiratory infections.
COVID 19 is a new disease and not much research has been done about it therefore it is not right for the tobacco industry to claim that there is a cure.
The Ministry of Health maintains and mandated to protect the public from the devastating health social and economic consequences of tobacco use in light of their international commitments under the WHO FCTC and WHO recommendations. Stay home, stay safe, avoid tobacco.
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