Vaccinating smokers, drug addicts less effective – NATA | Daily News

Vaccinating smokers, drug addicts less effective – NATA

Administering the COVID 19 vaccine to people who are addicted to alcohol or cigarettes is not effective,” National Authority on Tobacco and Alcohol (NATA) Chairman Dr. Samadhi Rajapaksa said.

He said that the whole world is in a critical health situation because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Vaccines have been produced and administered on frontline workers of the health sector and the Tri-Forces and the Police. The World Health Organization (WHO) states it will provide enough vaccines for 20 per cent of the Sri Lanka’s population.

“According to world experts and global studies, there are over 7,000 poisonous chemical in one puff of a cigarette. Having 50-60 of puffs are cancerous,” he said.

“COVID 19 affects one’s respiratory system. The vaccines act against the virus. But when the one’s immunity becomes impaired by smoking and drinking, giving vaccine to that person is not that effective,” he said.

“Last year, 16 per cent of people in Sri Lanka were smoking. However, the number is declining now. We are struggling to bring the number down at least to 12 per cent. We would struggle to ban sale of single cigarettes and introduce plain packaging,” he said.

“Smoking among women is low. But 22 per cent of women who get exposed to passive smoking are at home. At work places, 11 per cent of women get exposed to cigarette smoke,” he said.

“A few women who are hired by tobacco industry are luring children and youth to smoke at public places. Passive smoking is similar to direct smoking. Having COVID 19 is as dangerous as direct smoking,” he said.

“As NATA, we opposed smoking at public places. This year, we urged the Education Ministry to issue circular banning smoking at educational institutions and we succeeded,” he said.

“We should regulate private tuition classes. Teachers at these places have a big responsibility in keeping their classes cigarette smoke free,” he said.

“Immunity enhancement through vaccines is completely disrupted of direct or passive smokers. Getting infected with COVID-19 is 14 per cent higher with a smoker or a passive smoker than with non-smokers. That is why half of cigarette smokers die of COVID,” he said.

“Smokers’ immunity is very much low because of tar and nicotine in them. Therefore, they instantly contract the virus. They cannot wear masks while smoking, they share cigarettes. It affects their respiratory system directly. Therefore, their tendency of getting infected with COVID 19 is very high,” he said.

“The Tobacco Industry is behind the growing of cannabis. If the Government wants to produce cannabis and export them, the process should be handled by the Government itself, not by the private sector,” he said.

“We have to live with COVID 19 for years. Therefore, we should adhere to the health guidelines such as keeping one metre distance, washing hands and using face masks. If a smoker needs the vaccine, he must adhere to these precautions at least for six months,” he said.