When their capacity to take long breaths was tested, their lung function was found to be reduced and this impacted their ability to exercise.
When smokers were asked to rate their own health-related quality of life they reported feeling more tired, and lacked the motivation to change their inactive behaviour, said the study published in the journal Respirology. (IANS)
Tobacco kills more than 1 million people each year in India, according to the World Health Organisation. While no organ is immune to the destructive effects of cigarette smoke, it has one of the worst impacts on lungs.
With the COVID-19 pandemic, the risk of respiratory problems for vulnerable populations has increased significantly, leaving smokers more exposed to negative health outcomes. The Foundation for a Smoke-Free World’s recent Covid-19 State of Smoking Poll surveyed tobacco and nicotine users in countries that quickly imposed strong policies or guidance urging residents to remain at home. The poll evaluated the mental and physical toll of social distancing on smokers globally, many of whom have increased their tobacco intake as a way to cope with pandemic stress.
The survey found that 48 percent of combustible tobacco smokers in India believe that smoking increases the risk of either contracting COVID-19 or becoming seriously ill from it. It also revealed significant concerns about the safety of families, job security, and economic opportunity. These mental and physical stresses are particularly harmful for smokers, who often use tobacco to relieve anxiety.
On the other hand, it is possible that the global crisis will awaken a new commitment to healthy living among those who are motivated to change. 66 percent of Indian smokers surveyed reported that they had considered quitting for health concerns amid the COVID-19 crisis, and 63 percent responded they had actually made a quit attempt. Yet, there still exist many smokers who intend to quit but are uncertain about the best way to do so.
The global observance of World No Tobacco Day on May 31 presents an opportunity to raise awareness around smoking risks, and to work with smokers to find effective strategies for quitting. Dr. Sree T. Sucharitha, MD Fellow in HIV Medicine and Professor in a private medical college in Chennai, and Medical Director of Association for Harm Reduction Education and Research (AHRER), outlines four practices smokers should adopt during COVID-19 to manage their stress and anxiety in a healthy way.
Fitness and Exercise
We all know that exercise is important in our daily lives, but under the current circumstances, this habit may require extra motivation, as activity is often restricted to the home. During the COVID-19 crisis, tobacco and nicotine users in India have proven more likely than those in other countries to increase their use of healthy coping mechanisms (physical exercise, 64 percent; breathing exercises, 58 percent; meditation, 58 percent; yoga, 55 percent), as per The Foundation’s poll. Practicing mindfulness exercises such as yoga, meditation and deep breathing exercises with guided instructions from experts as in digital apps and videos will help in building core emotional resilience and also may strengthen immunity.
A healthy balanced diet, which gives the body the essential vitamins and dietary fibers for better metabolism, is crucial during the pandemic. Proper food habits must be maintained by following a diet plan that includes not only recommended consumption of calories, but also: fruits, vegetables, proteins and dairy products. A healthy diet will ensure that our tissues and cells get proper nutrition to function smoothly. Without proper nutrition, the body is more prone to infectious diseases due to poor immunity.
Take a break, get sleep, and rest
We want to control every aspect of our lives and stay updated on the latest developments, but in situations like these we must learn to accept some lack of control. People should take scheduled breaks and mentally disconnect from the overwhelming news and social media updates about the pandemic. Activities such as playing board games, solving puzzles, or playing with children and pet animals will help you to revitalize for the days ahead. Adequate rest and sleep for 6-8 hours will help minimize the effect of the pandemic on mental wellness.
Humans are indeed social animals. During trying times of uncertainty and fear, it is therefore very important to stay connected with others. Isolation and fear can negatively affect mental health, which can lead to severe anxiety or depression. As per the Foundation’s poll, close to 36 percent of Indian tobacco and nicotine users stated that social distancing has had an adverse effect on their mental health. While a majority of respondents normally turned to tobacco or nicotine products to manage stress (58 percent), 46 percent of respondents have decreased their use during social distancing. Mental health experts have suggested that reducing stress about the lockdowns, spending quality time with family, and indulging in creative activities can help you overcome feelings of depression and vulnerability during this crisis. (IANS)
Sadness, and not all negative emotions, lead people to smoking and turn it into an addictive behaviour, a first-of-its-kind set of four inter-woven studies has revealed.
A team of researchers based at Harvard University discovered that sadness plays an especially strong role in triggering addictive behaviour relative to other negative emotions like disgust.
“The conventional wisdom in the field was that any type of negative feeling, whether it’s anger, disgust, stress, sadness, fear or shame, would make individuals more likely to use an addictive drug,” said lead researcher Charles A. Dorison, a Harvard Kennedy School doctoral candidate.
“Our work suggests that the reality is much more nuanced than the idea of ‘feel bad, smoke more.’ Specifically, we find that sadness appears to be an especially potent trigger of addictive substance use,” Dorison explained in a new report published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
In the first study, researchers examined data from a national survey that tracked 10,685 people over 20 years.
They found that self-reported sadness among participants was associated with being a smoker and with relapsing back into smoking one and two decades later.
In the second study, the team tried to figure out whether sadness cause people to smoke, or were negative life events causing both sadness and smoking.
To test this, 425 smokers were recruited for an online study who watched video clips.
The findings showedthat individuals in the sadness condition – who watched the sad video and wrote about a personal loss – had higher cravings to smoke than both the neutral group and the disgust group.
A similar approach in the third study measured actual impatience for cigarette puffs rather than mere self-reported craving.
Similar to the second study, nearly 700 participants watched videos and wrote about life experiences that were either sad or neutral.
Those in the sadness group proved to be more impatient to smoke sooner than those in the neutral group.
“The result built upon previous research findings that sadness increases financial impatience, measured with behavioural economics techniques,” the authors wrote.
The fourth study recruited 158 smokers to test how sadness influenced actual smoking behaviour.
If you are a regular smoker, quit now as researchers have found that tobacco smoking may increase your risk of developing depression and schizophrenia.
“Individuals with mental illness are often overlooked in our efforts to reduce smoking prevalence, leading to health inequalities,” said study lead author Robyn Wootton from the University of Bristol.
“Our work shows that we should be making every effort to prevent smoking initiation and encourage smoking cessation because of the consequences to mental health as well as physical health,” Wootton added.
For the study, published in the journal Psychological Medicine, the research team used UK Biobank data from 462,690 individuals of European ancestry, comprising 8 per cent current smokers and 22 per cent former smokers.
The team applied an analytic approach called Mendelian randomisation, which uses genetic variants associated with an exposure (e.g. smoking) to support stronger conclusions about cause-and-effect relationships.
“The increasing availability of genetic data in large studies, together with the identification of genetic variants associated with a range of behaviours and health outcomes, is transforming our ability to use techniques such as Mendelian randomisation to understand causal pathways,” said study senior author Marcus Muna.
“What this shows is that genetic studies can tell us as much about environmental influences – in this case the effects of smoking on mental health – as about underlying biology,” Munafo added.
The research also suggests that smoking can have adverse effects on mental health.This new evidence adds further weight to support the implementation of smoke-free policies.