Jun 02, 2021 News
World No-Tobacco Day…
Kaieteur News – While most people are wary of the dangers of secondhand smoke in the use of tobacco and tobacco products, medical researchers and health workers have warned that thirdhand smoke is just as unsafe. During an airing of Kaieteur Radio’s programme, “Your Health Matters,” on Monday, Dr. Indira Bhoj, the Registrar of Family Medicine at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) explained the risk associated with thirdhand smoke.
She was at the time giving the insight on the dangers of tobacco use on the occasion of World No-Tobacco Day observed on May 31, 2021 under the theme, ‘Commit to Quit’.
During the interview, Dr. Bhoj explained that thirdhand smoke is the leftover smoke residue that remains in a room or vehicle after a cigarette is extinguished. According to her, this smoke residue contains nicotine and other harmful chemicals that can stick to walls, furniture, carpets, clothing, hair, toys, and other surfaces.
She explained that while a person can be exposed to secondhand smoke when emissions are inhaled from a person who directly smokes, people are exposed to thirdhand smoke when they touch contaminated surfaces or breathe the air in a room where smoking has occurred.
During the interview, Dr. Bhoj noted that the effects of thirdhand smoke can be as dangerous as secondhand smoke or those smoking the tobacco directly. She alluded to health science studies, which have shown that thirdhand smoke can mix with other common indoor air-pollutants to create cancer-causing compounds and other health complications particularly for children.
“Children are most at risks in these situations because they would interact with their environment more often than adults. Children are more likely to hold things and put their hands to their mouths and expose themselves to contamination,” Dr. Bhoj said during the interview.
According to Dr. Bhoj, while medical researchers were initially focused on the effects of tobacco on direct and secondhand smokers, the conversation has now shifted to the effects of thirdhand smoke, which is affecting children.
“Some of the harmful chemicals found in tobacco and tobacco products were being detected in children causing them to get sick, so more information and research is being shared on the dangers of thirdhand smoke,” Dr. Bhoj said as she urged tobacco users to desist from indulging the harmful product.
“The best thing that tobacco users can do is be committed to quitting, to safeguard themselves and their loved ones,” added the physician.
Additionally, the doctor said there no is the better time to quit smoking than during the COVID-19 pandemic given the impact of the virus on people’s health.
Dr. Bhoj noted that users of tobacco, alcohol and other harmful substances lessen their chance of survival since it helps to weaken the immune system making them more susceptible to contracting the virus and less likely to recover from it. She is not the only health provider warning tobacco users in light of the pandemic, the World Health Organisation (WHO) recently released information on COVID infection and lung complications in smokers.
According to that information, there is a higher incidence of severe lung complications following COVID in smokers as compared to non-smokers. Further, a scientific brief released from WHO, earlier this year, showed that smokers are at a higher risk of developing severe disease and death from COVID-19.
“These findings of a negative impact of smoking should not be surprising given the fact that smokers have been traditionally known to be more susceptible to infections, especially respiratory infections like flu, pneumonia and tuberculosis,” the WHO research document added.
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