The Vision for Alternative Development (VALD) has said there are overwhelming evidences that smokers are at higher risk of getting other respiratory infections and compromising their immune systems.
The VALD, therefore, advised all smokers to halt the habit and adapt to healthier lifestyles to keep their immune systems stronger.
In a release copied to the Ghana News Agency in Accra on Friday, it said the World Health Organisation, which was leading the global battle against the COVID-19 pandemic , has warned that “any kind of tobacco smoking is harmful to the bodily systems, including the cardiovascular and respiratory systems,” as they were high risk factors to COVID-19 infections.
“We have been told by experts including the Ministry of Health, WHO, and other respected institutions across the globe that people with underlying health challenges stand high risk to contracting COVID-19.”
“The Tobacco Atlas reveals that in 2016, tobacco killed 75 men and 21 women every week in Ghana, and that in the era of COVID-19, these numbers were bound to increase.”
Further data also showed that 94,400 people, representing 43 per cent, die from Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) in Ghana, presenting a situation about health policy, which could not be overlooked, it said.
Many countries had, therefore, taken bold and practical steps to protect their citizens from death or becoming severely ill when they are exposed to the virus.
However, in Ghana the smoking of cigarette and shisha among the youth was highly unregulated even though the Public Health Act (Act 851) bans smoking in public places.
“This is an opportunity for the Government to, as a matter of urgency, ban all forms of tobacco products just as other countries have done for the good of public health,” it said.
Reports also states that tobacco smoking could be deadly for non-smokers as well, adding that: “Second-hand tobacco smoke contributes to heart diseases, cancer, and other diseases causing an additional 1.2 million deaths annually”.
The release indicated that several health authorities have also proven the fact that tobacco smoking weakened lung defence and made it harder to fight COVID-19.
It urged the public to continue to adhere to all precautionary measures, which include frequent handwashing of hands with soap under running water for at least 20 seconds, use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers to help in the fight against COVID-19, practicing social distancing, and reporting symptoms early for help.