Since May 31, World No Tobacco Day, the São Paulo State Department of Health has reinforced, with the SUS, the virtual care campaign for those who want to quit smoking during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Online care has been active since April with the aim of reducing covid-19 transmission while caring for the smoking patient who wants to give up addiction. All units linked to the program were instructed to make use of virtual technology.
In total, 6,910 smokers are being treated with online expert support from 1,467 units accredited by the State Tobacco Control Program.
Relying on messaging and video applications, the strategy allows the continuity of assistance that was previously done in person in the services linked to the Reference Center for Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs (Cratod).
"In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, we face the challenges of social isolation while working to raise awareness among people, especially young people, not to give in to the influences on digital channels of products that refer to new forms of tobacco consumption," explains Sandra Marques, coordinator of the State Tobacco Control Program. "Maintaining care for these patients is essential, so we have developed an organizational structure so that treatments now happen online," he says.
The measure has a temporary and emergency character aimed at preventing the disease, avoiding displacement and agglomeration of people in the same environment.
In the last five years, the number of units linked to the State Tobacco Control Program has grown by more than seven times – there were only 200 in 2015. Last year alone, 44,237 smokers underwent treatment.
Smoking and COVID-19
Virtual care for smokers in the program units was defined according to public health measures to prevent the spread of the virus and also because smoking increases the risk of complications of dozens of diseases – especially cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. Taking into account that the new coronavirus is respiratory, people who smoke should take extra care, as smoking can cause diseases at risk for COVID-19 infections.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), tobacco causes different types of inflammation and impairs the body's defense mechanisms. Smokers have a two to four times higher risk of contracting invasive pneumococcal lung disease, associated with high mortality. In addition, the risk of influenza is twice as high and more severe in smokers compared to nonsmokers. In the case of tuberculosis, smokers are twice as likely to contract the infection, with four times the risk of death being four times higher.
"Smoking can cause impaired lung capacity and impair the respiratory system. According to studies, a smoker is 14 times more likely than a nonsmoker to develop the most severe symptoms of COVID-19," marques says. "World No Tobacco Day reminds us of the importance of smoking cessation as an effective measure of improvement in quality of life and prevention of various diseases," he concludes.
Tips for quitting smoking
- Set a date to quit smoking.
- Until that date, reduce the number of cigarettes daily. Start by postponing the first cigarette of the day and avoid smoking after meals. Each less cigarette helps prepare your body for the final day of the stop.
- The night before the day set to quit smoking, water all the remaining cigarettes and throw them in the trash. It is important not to store any cigarettes so as not to run the risk of smoking when you feel like it.
- Don't go out and buy cigarettes when you're going to knock. Remember that this will only lasts five minutes. To get distracted, watch TV, listen to music or do any other leisure activity for time to pass faster.
Don't be discouraged! The will will decrease as the days go by and the lungs will start to work better.
Smoking treatment sites can be found at https://bit.ly/2yDb5SW.