Clearing the Air: COVID-19 and Smoking
With the holidays approaching, students returning home from school, and the number of COVID-19 cases in Oklahoma continuing to rise, for a number of people, this means sharing a roof with a smoker or vaper, which can lead to dangerous secondhand exposure. How does smoking and vaping relate to COVID-19?
COVID-19 research increasingly suggests that smokers and vapers are more susceptible to developing deadly symptoms caused by the virus. This includes non-smokers who are regularly exposed to secondhand smoke. Evidence shows that exposure to smoke and e-cigarette vapor damages the lungs, making them unable to respond as effectively and allowing the virus take hold. According to researchers, protecting yourself from smoke, vapor and secondhand smoke will go a long way in helping your body fight back.
When it comes to smoking, COVID-19 and how it affects your family’s health, you can protect your loved ones by having conversations without controversy. Here are tips for having discussions about smoking and secondhand smoke to protect your family over the holidays:
1. Set expectations up front.
Have a conversation ahead of the holidays with smokers and vapers in your life. Remind them that you do not allow smoking inside the house because you want to protect everyone from the dangers of secondhand smoke. Avoid judgment and encourage them to quit when they’re ready.
2. Keep it polite and empathetic.
A polite, respectful tone goes a long way — and it’s far more effective than confrontation. You can also acknowledge and empathize with a loved one’s struggle while maintaining boundaries.
Try saying something like:
“Can I ask you a favor? Will you not smoke right now? Thank you.”
Avoid saying something like:
“I can’t believe you’re exposing my family to all of those harmful chemicals.
You should be ashamed of yourself.”
3. Provide distractions.
One effective way to help smokers cope with nicotine cravings is to provide family activities that keep them engaged. Puzzles, board games or card games are excellent distractions!
4. Offer support.
Every relationship is unique. If the opportunity arises, help your loved ones find the resources they need to quit. Tell them about the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline’s free services, like nicotine replacement therapy and Quit Coaching. Then, help them make the call or set up a profile at OKhelpline.com.
Starting these conversations may seem uncomfortable, but protecting your loved ones’ health should be your top priority. When you approach it with respect, empathy and support, the outcomes are far more productive. Holiday gatherings are more fun when you clear the air — in more ways than one. Remember: knowledge is power, and communication is key. In times like these, protecting the health and well-being of your family is the most important thing in the world.