The Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) has come out in favour of the continued ban on the sale of tobacco products during the national lockdown.
According to the HSRC, smokers face a higher risk of experiencing severe Covid-19 symptoms than non-smokers.
“It is accepted that tobacco use has a range of negative health effects, including lung and heart disease, cancers and strokes,” the report said.
Due to the weakening of the respiratory system due to continued tobacco use, smokers are therefore more likely to need mechanical ventilation if they contract Covid-19.
It is for this reason that the HSRC has voiced its support for the tobacco ban.
“The current ban on the purchase of tobacco products during the lockdown is a crucial element of trying to reduce the impact of the virus on patients and the healthcare system,” the HSRC said.
The HSRC drew on the 2016 SA Demographic and Health Survey when estimating the number of smokers in the country.
The survey found that 20% of the population aged 15 o older smoked tobacco, which translates to about 8 million people overall.
“If only 1% of the 8 million smokers were to contract Covid-19, this means that 800,000 smokers would be infected countrywide.
“If an estimated 5% were to need the ICU, this would translate to about 4,000 needing ICU hospital beds and ventilators.
“Under current calculations, this would exceed the availability of ventilators and place health workers at risk,” the HSRC said.