Rif. ANSA, Italia, 12 Marzo 15.40
Due to the spread of COVID-19, the Italian Government has decided to close all the non-essential shops in Italy, vapeshops included.
Riccardo Polosa, Professor of Internal Medicine of the University of Catania and founder of the COEHAR, Center of Excellence for the Acceleration of Harm Reduction of the University of Catania, speaks out about the situation:
“I don’t agree with the government solution: millions of smokers are forced to stay at home with their beloved ones, exposed to secondhand smoke.
It was the right time to close tobacconists and force thousands of smokers to say goodbye to cigarettes, promoting the possibility to switch to less harmful products. Instead, we will have more smokers who smoke to overcome the anxiety and the fear generated by the spread of the coronavirus and thousand of users of ecig who can slip back into their old bad habits.
I think it is unfair to deprive smokers of the possibility of switching to less harmful products, and even more unfair to let thousands of vapors going back to smoking. As a general public health rule, we must guarantee access to alternative tools to quit smoking for good, especially during these days when the Italian people’s health is at stake.
There are people with respiratory diseases who had a significant improvement in their health conditions, switching from smoking to vaping. Getting them back to smoking could cause a fast deterioration of their respiratory symptoms with the consequence of overloading the national health system- which is already on the edge.”
The WHO declared Covid-19 outbreak a pandemic: no one is immune to the virus and public health authorities have to think of unpopular strategies to reduce the infection rates and decrease the casualties.
“Facts, not speculation is the need of the hour- added Polosa- A study of 144 hospitalised cases in China shows that COPD smokers are not at higher risk for COVID-19. High mortality emerges when occupancy for beds in the ICU fall short of demand”
In Italy, COVID-19 is claiming victims: seniority and comorbidity don’t explain the mortality rates.
“Lombardy, that hosts the most modern and efficient healthcare system in Italy, shows the highest mortality rates in the world. Why? The sudden increase of severe cases and the consequent collapse of intensive care units are the explanation for the current rates. Within two weeks, it will no longer be possible to guarantee the necessary assistance. What can we do? It is mandatory to convert ordinary hospital beds into intensive care units as well as mobilize specially trained staff to deal with this type of emergency, especially where there is more need.”