The coronavirus pandemic, social distancing, masks and quarantines made many feel like giving up, but if there is one thing one should quit now, it is smoking.
“There is no better time,” says Erika Fife, a popular actress in the 90s who was able to quit smoking at the height of the quarantine.
“I started smoking when I was 18 and have been doing so since, on and off. Last Christmas, I received a vape from a friend as a Christmas present. I don’t think he thought by giving it to me I would quit smoking, but he wanted to present me with what he thought was a cleaner alternative,” Erika shared recently in an online forum.
Quitting the smoking habit is not the easiest thing to do. According to the latest Global Adult Tobacco Survey, only 4 percent of those who intended to quit were able to do so. A significant part of the drawback is peer pressure or the socialization aspect which smoking brings.
“When I started vaping, I liked it very much because it was clean and there were no smells, but I didn’t think it would help me stop smoking. I was using the vape for about three to four months and managed to give up smoking altogether during the COVID-19 lockdown,” she added.
And yet there exists conflicting research and reports globally that say vaping exacerbates the chances of getting COVID-19, and this can be a worry for many smokers. The Department of Health had earlier warned that smoking can “weaken the immune system” and that “smokers contract more respiratory ailments, including colds, which also belong to the coronavirus family.”
Echoing global experts, local tobacco harm reduction advocate Dr. Lorenzo Mata, president of Quit For Good, said there is no scientific or medical finding showing that vapes or e-cigarettes increase the susceptibility of users to the disease, just as combustible cigarette does.
Quit for Good is a non-stock, non-profit initiated by a group of concerned citizens who recognize the profound damage and loss tobacco cigarettes have brought to society.
“Your entire body is affected by smoking — the heart and lungs are the major systems that are affected by smoking, but smoking should not be conjoined with vaping and use of ENDS (electronic nicotine delivery system) or e-cigarettes. E-cigarettes are significantly less harmful. There’s no evidence both in molecular and epidemiological levels to prove that vaping increases the risk of catching COVID-19 or getting more severe outcome of the disease,” Dr. Mata added.
“Cold turkey is the best way to quit smoking for good,” he said. For smokers who find this difficult, there are less harmful options available that can help in the quitting journey. Dr Mata says, “If only we can get 10 percent of adult smokers to switch to less harmful alternatives every year, we will see in 10 years the demise of the deadliest product in the market which are combustible cigarettes.”
“Cold turkey is the best way to quit smoking for good,” he said. For smokers who find this difficult, there are less harmful options available which can help in the quitting journey.
Former Senator JV Ejercito managed to switch to ENDS products over a period of four years before successfully giving up smoking altogether.
“I stopped smoking because of health reasons, I workout now, and I can say that my stamina actually improved a lot. I’m thankful that I stopped smoking because now I can do quite a lot of things,” Ejercito shared during a recent podcast organized by Quit for Good.
In the same podcast, veteran broadcaster Jay Taruc narrated how he started smoking in his youth since he was partially influenced by his father who was a heavy smoker. Taruc consciously decided to quit due to the birth of his child and the fact that his dad suffered from smoking-related diseases in his older age. Unlike Ejercito, Taruc quit cold turkey — he started developing an aversion to the smell and avoided groups that were smoking, which led him to quit completely.
Quitting smoking now is indeed within reach, whether cold turkey or with the help of less harmful alternatives.