A south east London council has appealed to residents to quit smoking – and if that fails, switch to vaping – in a bid to avoid complications that could arise from the coronavirus.

Bexley Council made the call on Thursday for residents to quit smoking altogether, although the authority added smokers should weigh up a switch to E-cigarettes if quitting wasn’t possible.

Last month Secretary of State for Health Matt Hancock told the House of Commons that it was “abundantly clear from the research into previous coronaviruses that smoking makes the impact of a coronavirus worse”.

However, the effect of electronic cigarettes remains unclear, with Bexley Council saying there was “no clear evidence” that it could increase risks associated with Covid-19.

“There have been suggestions in some media sources that e-cigarette use could increase risks from coronavirus,” the authority stated.

“There is no clear evidence for this and we continue to encourage smokers to think about switching to e-cigarettes to reduce their risk of respiratory infections.”

It comes as the authority urges that “maintaining a smokefree home is essential” during the pandemic, with Bexley’s schools closed and children isolating at home with their parents.

“Smoking in the home exposes children to toxic cigarette smoke and increases the risk of serious health conditions and respiratory infections,” the authority said, adding that quitting would reduce the burden on a health system “which is already under great strain”.

“Smokers are at greater risk of getting coronavirus and – if they do – the infection is likely to last longer and be more serious than it would for someone who does not smoke,” the council said.

“People with existing respiratory conditions, like COPD, are more susceptible to infections like coronavirus. It is really important that people living with COPD who still smoke access quit support.

“Exposure to secondhand smoke is also likely to increase the risks from coronavirus. Children are at particular risk from the dangers of secondhand smoke, as they have less well-developed airways, lungs and immune system.”

Dr Anjan Ghosh, Director of Public Health in Bexley said “this could be the call to action you have been waiting for”. 

“We are calling on all smokers to take this opportunity to protect themselves and their loved ones at this crucial time,” Dr Ghosh said. 

“We have an excellent Stop Smoking Team who are continuing to support smokers to quit by offering telephone support and access to treatment.”

Calls are free to 0800 783 2514 or sign up for support on the website at www.smokefreebexley.co.uk

This content was originally published here.

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