Birmingham, Ala. (WIAT) — Doctors at UAB Hospital are urging smokers and vapers to quit because they are at higher risk for complications from COVID-19.
Due to the habit, experts say smokers’ lungs are more strained, which means the virus could be more harmful to them. They say now is the perfect time to put the cigarette or vape pen down.
“Because above all, we want to prevent death. We want to prevent hospitalizations,” Dr. Susan Walley with UAB said.
Dr. Walley says smokers and vapers aren’t just prone to complications from the virus, but other deadly diseases.
“Such as cancer, such as heart disease, such as lung disease like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Those are caused by smoking,” Dr. Walley said.
She says there are plenty of other reasons to quit as well. She says quitting can show children a healthier lifestyle, too.
“Children and young adults ages 13 to 24 are five times more likely to be diagnosed with COVID-19, Dr. Walley said.
She announced on Friday UAB Hospital and Children’s Hospital, along with the city of Birmingham, Jefferson County Health Department, Veterans Administration, Southern Research, and Cooper Green a new health district in the city to help promote smoke-free streets and sidewalks.
“And in that way, it really promotes the health of all of our community,” Dr. Walley said.
CBS 42 spoke with several smokers in the area Friday night. None wanted to go on camera, but they understand the health concerns of smoking and vaping. They still take the virus seriously by wearing masks and minding their distances when out in public.
Dr. Walley says they still have time to make that healthy lifestyle change.
“We want to make sure that smokers know that when you quit, your body starts healing. And so, it’s really important to quit no matter where you are,” Dr. Walley said.
Experts say they are not sure how long it takes for smokers to fully recover from the virus.
Dr. Walley says there are tools to help people quit. Call 1-800-QUITNOW to get more information or visit the Birmingham Health District website.