Brunei stays 'Committed to quit smoking' theme as country stays clears of local covid-19 cases for 389 days

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, May 31 (Borneo Bulletin/Asian News Network): Approximately eight million deaths are recorded around the world every year, as a consequence of tobacco use.

Out of that figure, about seven million deaths are due to the direct use of tobacco, while 1.20 million deaths are caused by exposure to passive cigarette smoke (second-hand smoke).

This was highlighted by Minister of Health, Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham Haji Jaafar, in his message for World No Tobacco Day, which falls annually on May 31.

This year’s theme is ‘Committed to Quit Smoking’.

“Tobacco is harmful to health, while nicotine found inside tobacco is addictive. The negative effect resulting from the use of tobacco is clearly evident, not only on those who consume it, but also for those being exposed to passive cigarette smoke (second-hand smoke),” said the minister in his message.

“In the current global situation still affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, the World Health Organization (WHO) has learned from existing studies that smokers are at higher risk of contracting more severe Covid-19 infections, which can be fatal, compared to non smokers.

“Thus, smokers are strongly encouraged to take steps to quit smoking. This is in line with this year’s theme, ‘Committed to Quit’.

“Smoking is one of the risk factors that can cause lung infection and increase the severity of lung disease, while COVID-19 is an infection that usually attacks the lungs or the

respiratory system.

“In addition, smoking can also damage lung function, which will impede the body’s ability to fight off viral infections or other diseases.”

The minister said, “Therefore, smokers are at higher risk of developing more severe diseases when exposed to COVID-19. “Apart from that, the mortality rates from COVID-19 infection are higher among those who have non-communicable disease such as cancer, cardiovascular, diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases, in which smoking is a major risk factor.

“At the same time, the movements made while smoking cigarettes can cause smokers to be at a higher risk of contracting the virus through the mouth.However, quitting smoking is far from easy. The addictive nicotine found in tobacco also makes it more difficult for smokers to quit.

“Out of 1.3 billion tobacco users worldwide, 60 per cent have expressed intention to quit smoking, but only 30 per cent have access to services that can help them quit smoking.

“In Brunei Darussalam we are grateful at being able to assist smokers to quit smoking. The Government of His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, through the Ministry of Health (MoH), has provided smoking cessation clinics at all health centres across the districts. These clinics provide counselling services and pharmacotheraphy assistance, such as nicotine replacement devices, for those in need.

“For those who successfully quit smoking, the improvement on their health will be seen and felt, along with the eventual reduction in the risk for lung disease.

“According to studies, within a three-month period after quitting smoking, lung infections will gradually clear up. Coughs and shortness of breath will decrease after nine months.

“After 10 years, lung cancer risk will be reduced by half compared to smokers; and the risk of cancer of mouth, throat, oesophagus, urinary bladder, cervix and pancreas will also be reduced.

“On this note, following the global situation in managing and addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, smokers are encouraged to take steps to quit smoking.

“In conjunction with No Tobacco Day 2021, I welcome the cooperation and support from all parties, including individuals, family members, healthcare workers and the community, in jointly empowering and working together to support those who wish to kick the habit.”

Meanwhile, Brunei reported one new confirmed case of Covid-19 on Sunday night, bringing the total tally to 242.

According to Brunei's Ministry of Health, the new case was a 39-year-old man who arrived from the Indonesian capital Jakarta on May 16. Investigation and contact tracing have found no close contact of the imported case as he was quarantined upon arrival in the Southeast Asian country.

The new case is being treated and monitored in the National Isolation Center with other seven active cases, who are all in a stable condition.

With the detection of this case, a total of 101 imported cases have been confirmed in Brunei since the last local infection case on May 6, 2020. Brunei has recorded 389 days without local Covid-19 infection cases.

There have been three deaths and 231 recoveries from the pandemic in Brunei. - Borneo Bulletin/ANN

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