A man smokes near a hospital despite a nearby warning sign. — VNA/VNS Photo Đinh Hằng

HÀ NỘI — Smoking can increase the risk of COVID-19 transmission within the community as it weakens lung function and immune response to infections, an official said.

Lương Ngọc Khuê, head of the Health Ministry’s Department for Medical Examination and Treatment, issued the warning at a press conference on National No Tobacco Week, from May 25 to 31, and World No Tobacco Day (May 31) in Hà Nội on Thursday.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), smokers have a higher risk of getting coronavirus because they are constantly putting their hands to their lips, said Khuê, who is also director of the ministry’s Tobacco Control Fund.

The use of smoking devices such as water pipes is also among the causes behind the increase of COVID-19 community infections, he added.

The WHO designated May 31 as the World No Tobacco Day (WNTD). The theme of WNTD 2020 is “Protecting youth from industry manipulation and preventing them from tobacco and nicotine use”.

For decades, the tobacco industry has deliberately employed strategic, aggressive and well-resourced tactics to attract young people to tobacco and nicotine products.

Internal industry documents reveal in-depth research and calculated approaches designed to attract a new generation of tobacco users, from product design to marketing campaigns aimed at replacing millions of people who die each year from tobacco-attributable diseases with new consumers – young people.

In response to the tobacco and related industries’ systematic, aggressive and sustained tactics to attract a new generation of tobacco users, World No Tobacco Day 2020 will provide a counter-marketing campaign and empower young people to engage in the fight against Big Tobacco.

The World No Tobacco Day 2020 global campaign will serve to debunk myths and expose manipulation tactics employed by the tobacco and related industries, particularly marketing tactics targeted at young people, including through the introduction of new and novel products, flavours and other attractive features; equip young people with knowledge about the tobacco and related industries’ intentions and tactics to hook current and future generations on tobacco and nicotine products; and empower influencers (in pop culture, on social media, in the home, or in the classroom) to protect and defend youth and catalyse change by engaging them in the fight against Big Tobacco, according to WHO. — VNS