We take this moment to remember our friends and loved ones in the frontline fighting the effects and challenges brought about by Coronavirus. Our prayers and thoughts are with caregivers at the battlefront, those working in the hospitality industry, and those exposed to environments that are filled with smoke.
So far, we understand that washing hands and practicing social distancing helps reduce the spread of the virus, but what is the part played by cigar-smoking towards getting exposed to the virus? Does second-hand smoke increase the chances of infecting others? First of all, let us understand all the interplays of Coronavirus.
What is Coronavirus?
Also known as COVID-19, Coronavirus is a contagious ailment caused by a family of viruses known as Coronaviridae. These are the same viruses that cause diseases like SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and the common cold.
How it spreads
The virus is primarily spread from an infected person through saliva droplets or discharge from coughs, the nose, or sneezes. If a healthy person is exposed to these discharges and touches their face, mouth, or nose, they risk getting the virus. In summary, the virus spread through mucous membranes.
The majority of people infected with this virus experience mild respiratory diseases and usually recuperate without getting medical care. However, the virus remarkably affects people of old age and those with underlying conditions such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and chronic respiratory ailments.
Coronavirus is best prevented by arming ourselves with knowledge about the disease. At the moment, the virus has no known vaccine, cure, or treatment. However, its spread can be reduced by regularly washing your hands, practicing social distancing, using an alcohol-based sanitizer, and avoiding touching your face. Additionally, respiratory etiquette is essential; this includes covering your mouth when coughing or sneezing.
Cigar Smoking & Coronavirus
For cigar aficionados, we know that smoking tobacco can lead to several infections in the respiratory tract; and it escalates the seriousness of respiratory diseases. According to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) findings concerning smoking and Coronavirus, smokers are at a higher risk of getting infected in contrast to non-smokers.
As we have seen in the introduction, COVID-19 is a contagious infection that predominately affects the respiratory tract, especially the lungs. On the other hand, tobacco increases the factors of risk to noninfectious diseases like cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular illnesses, and respiratory disease. Smoking damages the functionality of the lungs, thus reducing the body’s chances of keeping off diseases like Coronavirus. Therefore, cigar-smoking puts one at a higher risk of getting this infection and, in some cases, could lead to death.
Tobacco in cigars also intensifies the symptoms brought about by Coronavirus like difficulty in breathing. Studies show that patients with a history in smoking have required mechanical ventilation, have acute health consequences, and mostly are admitted in the ICU. Tobacco is an element of danger in getting infected to other ailments such as tuberculosis, influenza, common cold, and pneumonia. There are many ramifications on the respiratory system as a result of smoking; the effects make it easy for smokers to contract Coronavirus increasing the extremity of any disease. Relishing your occasional cigar might increase the likelihood of getting ARDS (Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome). ARDS affects most COVID-19, especially those with acute to grave respiratory illnesses. Most patients being hospitalized because of Coronavirus progressively develop ARDS, and about 50% of them die from it.
Regardless of which type of tobacco you smoke, it will affect essential body systems like the respiratory tract and cardiovascular system in the end. Research carried out in China, the origin of COVID-19, reveals that individuals with underlying cardiovascular and respiratory issues brought about by the use of tobacco were at higher risk of experiencing severe Coronavirus symptoms. Additional studies carried out in laboratories showed that the fatality rate among those with pre-existing incurable medical diseases was higher than among those with no antecedent conditions. This is enough evidence of how these underlying conditions make one more susceptible to COVID-19.
Smoking of tobacco is the ubiquitous cause of lung cancer and the factor of risk in (COPD) Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. COPD damages the lungs by severing the air sacs responsible for the intake of oxygen and the expulsion of carbon dioxide. Its symptoms also permit an increase in mucus, which makes coughing painful and leads to breathing difficulties. COPD reduces the lung’s capacity to do its work. It is also a threat to smokers bearing in mind Coronavirus first attacks the respiratory system and causes moderate to acute damage to the system. Nevertheless, mindful of COVID-19 still being recently identified, more research between smoking and the virus should be done.
COVID-19 is caused by SARS-CoV-2, a virus that belongs to the same family as SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV. These viruses are linked to causing acute and chronic damage to the cardiovascular system. More research reveals that patients with Coronavirus frequently display complications related to the heart. Before Coronavirus use of tobacco and subjection to second-hand smoking has been a leading cause of cardiovascular diseases abbreviated as CVDs. With the introduction of another virus that affects the cardiovascular system, the risk for severe symptoms is inherent. These pre-existing factors increase vulnerability to getting the infection and increase the morbidity rate in the end.
Spread of Coronavirus through Cigar smoking
Smokers have been the focal point of health specialists globally; this is primarily because they are most susceptible to Coronavirus. In a report by WHO, smokers present a higher risk of getting Coronavirus because of pre-existing respiratory diseases. Cigar smoking can spread Corona through;
We have learned that Coronavirus spreads when one is exposed to mucus discharge and saliva from an infected person. All the processes that lead to cigar enthusiasts enjoying their puffs all entail touching the cigar. On the occasion that an aficionado’s fingers are infected, and the smoker puts the cigar’s foot in their mouth or even worse share it with someone else, it will automatically be an easy way to spread the virus. It is the cigar-smoking traditions that put smokers at a higher risk of getting infected. The roasting process, for instance, if the lighting source is being shared, then the risk of infection increases. Transmission of the virus from one cigar enthusiast to another is also higher when aficionados want to increase their stock and visit their favorite shop. Simple things like frequently touching your humidor to offering a friend a cigar could spread the virus.
- Second-hand smoke
Second-hand smoke is the smoke being blown out or puffed from a cigar by a smoker. This smoke is a potential conveyor of the virus. As much as the virus does not hitchhike the cigar’s smoke, the smoke, however, contains discharge from the respiratory track in form of droplets. Close contact of the smoke coming from an infected person consequently amplifies the possibility of getting the virus. In addition to the exposure, the long term effect of smoking is damaged lungs, which increase vulnerability to COVID-19’s complications.
The bodies of most smokers cannot fight off the virus because their lungs are already damaged by tobacco smoke. Whatever they inhale must be exhaled, the smoke released carriers whatever there is in the individual’s body. As much as tobacco itself does not transport the virus, the smoke exhaled increases the transmission rate, especially in a confined room. The ventilation system in public spaces like bars, hotels, and casinos do not eradicate the exposure to smoke.
According to statics, approximately 100 Americans die daily due to the long-term effects of second-hand smoke exposure. These numbers might skyrocket if Coronavirus patients will be added. Most cooperation only think of the profits they will make from enabling indoor smoking in bars, concert halls, and casinos without thinking of the repercussions.
- Tobacco as a Risk-Factor
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conducted research that cataloged smoking as a risk factor in getting infected by Coronavirus. Tobacco smoke is known to kill the hair-like projections that line the bronchus in the lungs. The cilia’s primary work is to ensure mucus and dirt are swept out of the lungs; this consequently means that lack of them will lead to a congested lung. Viruses tend to linger on longer in such lungs, increasing the chances of illnesses like COVID-19 spreading.
Since the respiratory system is already affected, most Coronavirus victims might undergo severe symptoms compared to those who have no smoking history. Damaged lungs also mean that they cannot fight off the virus since smoking tobacco has already destroyed air sacs and the bronchial hairs.
Most handmade cigars involve a lot of human interaction. Bare hands do the entire process of filling and wrapping. This can also increase the transmission of Coronavirus. In case someone handling the cigars is infected, they could spread it either during batching, or packaging, or even during transportation. A lot happens before the cigars get to your humidor, so it is generally safe to take precautions.
How to protect others
- Abstinence from smoking is the first and best way to protect not only yourself but also others from getting infected.
- Avoid sharing lighters.
- Increase awareness of the risks associated with smoking Tobacco.
- Keep those around you safe by avoiding smoking in rooms that are not well ventilated. Also, public spaces should invest in creating smoking zones.
- Regularly wash your hands with soap, practice social distancing, and avoid sharing cigars.
- Avoid spitting in public areas.
- The government can come up with laws that are tobacco-related to protect another generation that may get dependent on nicotine.