Experts are warning of the dangers of smoking in light of the novel coronavirus pandemic, which has infected over 400,000 people worldwide as of Tuesday afternoon.
Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 or COVID-19, first identified in China’s Hubei province late last year, is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered strain of the coronavirus.
The virus appears to have originated in a wet market in Wuhan, where it is thought to have jumped from an animal to a human, kickstarting the global pandemic.
COVID-19 causes a respiratory illness similar to the flu. However, in older people and those with underlying conditions such as obesity, heart problems, and asthma, the coronavirus may lead to more severe symptoms.
Smoking a major risk factor
In China, the initial epicenter of the disease, men experienced higher mortality rates from the virus than women. One theory is that men were at a higher risk due to smoking.
About 50% of older Chinese men are smokers as opposed to only 2% of women. This could mean that smoking is a major risk factor for developing more serious symptoms of the coronavirus.
Although more research is needed, the same case could be made for cannabis smoking, some experts are warning.
“Right now, we are facing a pandemic where SARS-CoV-2 attacks lung cells, preferentially in the lower respiratory tract,” epidemiologist Dr. Steffanie Strathdee told Leafly.
Another issue concerning marijuana smoking during the pandemic is the habit of passing joints among people in a group. As the majority of experts advise social distancing in order to contain the spreading of the virus, the custom of passing around a joint when smoking pot with other people should be avoided at this time.
All things considered, now might be the best time to switch to edibles or other alternatives to marijuana smoking. Protecting your lungs and the immune system, in general, is highly suggested, along with limiting contact with other people.
“In my view, better to be safe than sorry, so I’d advise anyone who uses marijuana to switch to edibles, especially if they have underlying health conditions like respiratory problems (asthma, COPD), heart problems (hypertension, diabetes), or immune deficiencies,” Dr. Strathdee shared.