By James Mwale
Lilongwe, Drug Fight Malawi, a local non-governmental organisation advocating against drug and substance abuse in the country, has warned that cigarette smokers stand a high risk of contracting Corona virus and succumbing to the resultant disease (COVID-19)
The organisation’s Executive Director, Nelson Bazuel Zakeyu, raised the caution in Lilongwe and advised that smokers were safer from the pandemic if they immediately quit.
“Smoking impairs lung function and weakens the body. There is also conclusive evidence that smoking weakens one’s immune system and that it is one of the major causes of chronic infections of the respiratory system,” he said.
He added that weak immunity and underlying lung infections were among the proven lethal factors leading to deaths of COVID-19 patients.
Zakeyu also argued that smoking was a frustration to government and community efforts to contain spread of the virus, saying smokers are unlikely to wear masks while smoking and adhere to the prescribed social distancing caution as some go as far as sharing one cigarette.
He said: “There are high chances that an innocent non-smoker would inhale virus contaminated humid smoke, even within the prescribed one-metre social distance from the lungs of a smoker after the latter exhales smoke into the atmosphere.”
Zakeyu has since called on government through the Presidential Taskforce on the Fight against Corona virus to consider incorporating anti-cigarette smoking campaigns into its intervention against further spread of the pandemic.