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NICE Guidance ‘Strongly Encourages’ Smokers with Severe Respiratory Disease to Quit for COVID-19

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Rapid guidelines just published by NICE on the treatment of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) ‘strongly encourage’ patients to quit smoking.

Dr Sanjay Agrawal, Consultant in Respiratory and Intensive Care Medicine, and currently working on the frontline treating patients suffering from COVID-19 at University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, says the NICE guidelines must be followed both by doctors and patients:

‘The NICE guidelines are spot on, doctors should be strongly encouraging smokers with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) to quit. In fact they should be encouraging all smokers to quit, as early evidence from China shows that smokers who contract COVID-19 are more likely to develop severe disease, to end up in intensive care and to die. Smokers should try to quit without delay.

‘The benefits from quitting are immediate, including increased oxygen supply to the lungs, reduced risk of respiratory infections, and improvements in blood pressure. Longer-term benefits include significant reductions in the risk of developing cancer, heart disease and COPD.’

Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) is working with doctors in the NHS, Public Health England, and health charities across the country to support smokers trying to quit at this difficult time. Face to face access to help to quit is no longer available due to social distancing rules but smokers can find out how to get help at the Today Is the Day website and the QuitClinic on @QuitForCovid every evening from 7.30–8.30pm. #QuitForCovid.

Deborah Arnott, chief executive of ASH, said: ‘This is a worrying time for all of us and people want to know how best to protect themselves and those around them. For smokers, quitting will immediately improve their health, as well as those around them and reduce the risk that if they contract coronavirus they will get life threatening symptoms.

‘Smokers who get help to quit are three times as likely to succeed, and while face to face advice is not available currently, the Today Is The Day website has lots of links and ideas, and if you tweet #QuitForCovid a trained adviser is on hand to answer your questions from 7.30 to 8.30 every evening.’


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