[OPINION] The fight against COVID-19 should also be the fight against tobacco

By Kelly Henning | CNN

Protecting people from the dangers of tobacco products — and holding tobacco companies accountable for their global actions — is a critical component in the fight against Covid-19.

Smokers are more likely than non-smokers to develop severe complications with Covid-19, according to a review of studies by public health experts convened by the World Health Organization. And, a new study of 169 hospitals in Asia, Europe and North America found that smokers have nearly double the likelihood of in-hospital death than non-smokers.

But just as important, tobacco use — a pandemic in its own right — is costly to individual smokers and to society. Smoking kills more than 8 million people a year, mainly in low- and middle-income countries. These deaths are preventable and come mostly from cancer, heart disease, stroke, chronic lung disease and diabetes—conditions that also contribute to high rates of Covid-19 mortality. The human price is exacerbated by the economic toll in health care costs and lost productivity costs that reaches $1.4 trillion annually worldwide.

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