Last Updated on January 4, 2021
The COVID-19 pandemic has created social, political, and economic impacts we’ll probably be feeling for the next few years at least. The virus seemed to sweep across the globe in a matter of weeks, forcing us indoors in social isolation, disrupting social norms, and causing incredible social and political upheaval. All from a microscopic contagion!
COVID-19 can be deadly in certain cases and has an especially nasty effect on those who have compromised immune systems or respiratory function. With the rise of COVID-19 has also come a decline in the number of smokers in the world, which is good for everyone. Smoking is not only an individual health hazard, but also a public one, and a detriment to the Earth.
Tobacco farming is costly, creates millions of gallons of toxic waste, and cigarette butts are the world’s most littered item. It’s safe to say that we’d all be better off without cigarettes, but will COVID-19 stop smokers from continuing? Not all of them, of course, but thousands have already ditched the habit to reduce the likelihood of serious health complications from COVID-19.
COVID-19 and The Respiratory System
COVID-19 is caused by a Coronavirus, which is a crown-shaped virus that’s especially good at latching onto and hijacking healthy cells. A virus functions in this way; hijacking cells and their reproductive abilities in order to replicate itself. Viruses are not living things, but they’re incredibly effective at wreaking havoc on the body under certain conditions.
COVID-19, in particular, affects the respiratory system. COVID can cause respiratory failure, pneumonia, shortness of breath, acute respiratory distress syndrome, sepsis, and more. The bottom line? You’re in serious danger of developing serious respiratory complications from COVID, but that risk increases even more if you’re a smoker or someone with a compromised immune or respiratory system.
Smoking and The Lungs/Heart
Smoking wreaks havoc on the lungs, heart, and blood vessels from the very first inhalation. When you inhale cigarette smoke, you’re essentially delivering over 7,000 dangerous chemicals directly to your lungs, heart, and other bodily organs/tissues that depend on healthy, oxygen-rich blood to function properly. The chemicals in cigarettes affect the red blood cells’ ability to bind with oxygen molecules, making them far less efficient. In addition, your blood thickens and your blood pressure rises, risking serious damage to cardiac tissue and blood vessels.
Smoking drastically increases your risk of heart disease, stroke, and heart attack. Not to mention, it lowers your immune system’s ability to fight off infection, and seriously affects lung function, making complications from COVID-19 almost a guarantee.
Such dangers have prompted thousands of smokers to ditch the habit for good, or, at the very least, to try an alternative tobacco product like tobacco-free dip. There’s never been a better time to give up the destructive habit and take back control of your personal health.
Chemicals, Heavy Metals, Carcinogens
Speaking of toxic chemicals, heavy metals, and carcinogens, exactly what kind of dangerous substances are in a cigarette? This information has been suppressed by the tobacco industry for years, but thanks to the ceaseless efforts of health officials and non-profit organizations, we now know the average toxicity of a single cigarette. Let’s look closer at what’s in your cigarette, shall we?
- Lead, mercury, and nickel (all toxic heavy metals)
- Arsenic (a powerful poison used in pesticide)
- Nicotine (that’s what you become addicted to)
- Ammonia (toilet cleaner, anyone?)
- Uranium (how about a little nuclear waste in your lungs?)
- Carbon monoxide (we have smoke detectors in our homes for this one)
- Butane (a little lighter fluid to help your cigarette stay lit, right?)
- Cadmium (battery acid)
- Formaldehyde (at least your body will be preserved)
- Methanol (who wants to go to the moon with a little rocket fuel?)
- Tar (you can fill your street’s potholes now)
All humor aside, these chemicals are just a fraction of what’s found in just one cigarette. Your body is already under constant siege when you’re a smoker without the addition of COVID-19 into the equation.
How Many Have Quit?
Over one million people have quit smoking in the UK alone since the onset of COVID-19. While the numbers in the USA are still unknown, the general consensus is that it’s probably somewhere close. Overall, smoking has actually declined worldwide in recent decades, probably because of serious efforts to make the harmful effects of smoking well-known. Smoking is nothing less than a public health hazard and should be treated as such.
While it’s a bit sad to see something like a global pandemic be the cause of smoking declination, it’s still uplifting to know that people are actually giving up the habit once and for all. The world could do with fewer smokers and a few million fewer pounds of waste and gallons of toxic waste chemicals.