SAN DIEGO, CA | June 9, 2020
The American Lung Association is encouraging all policy makers to adopt smokefree policies as part of their planning in modifying California stay-at-home orders during this COVID-19 pandemic.
“The best protection against COVID-19 infection is to follow public health guidelines about social contacts. It is also important to keep our lungs as healthy as possible, since lung disease can predispose people to the worst effects of COVID-19 respiratory infection,” said Dr. Timothy A. Morris, MD FCCP, American Lung Association volunteer physician. An important component of this is ensuring people are not exposed to smoking in their homes or public places. All Americans deserve to live, work, study, and play in smokefree environments. By implementing laws and policies to make our communities smokefree, we can:
- Protect all workers and patrons from the dangers of secondhand smoke
- Reduce death and diseases associated with secondhand smoke
- Motivate smokers to quit
- Reduce the number of people who start smoking
Smoking and vaping have been linked to lung inflammation, as well as reduced lung and immune function.1 COVID-19 is a lung infection that aggressively attacks the lungs and can kill lung cells and tissue. 1 Inhaling irritating substances like tobacco smoke and vape emissions affects the ability of the lungs to function and causes a chronic degree of inflammation in airways. Smoking harms the immune system and can make the body less successful at fighting disease2 - especially important in protecting ourselves from viruses like COVID-19.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, exposure to secondhand smoke causes over 7,000 annual deaths from lung cancer.3 Even brief exposure to secondhand smoke can damage cells and the lining of blood vessels, making you more vulnerable to cancer or heart disease3 and now possibly COVID-19. Secondhand smoke harms children and adults, and the only way to fully protect nonsmokers is to eliminate smoking in all homes, worksites, and public places.4
While hiking trails and beaches are smokefree in our area, not all businesses have adopted comprehensive smokefree policies. For example, parts of San Diego County, such as Poway, still have some outdoor dining restaurants that allow smoking. Why not expand the healthy smokefree protections for all our communities as our leaders continue to take the necessary actions to protect the public and welfare of our cities? As authorities consider opening restaurants for dining in, outdoor dining will likely be an attractive option. Public places and outdoor dining patios should be smoke free to protect the public and reduce the risk of compromising those with underlying medical conditions.
The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease through education, advocacy and research. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to champion clean air for all; to improve the quality of life for those with lung disease and their families; and to create a tobacco-free future. For more information about the American Lung Association, a holder of the coveted 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and a Gold-Level GuideStar Member, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org.
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