Rather ban alcohol than cigarettes — MRC’s Madhi

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From a scientific perspective, there wasn’t much merit in preventing the sale of cigarettes – there was more harm in allowing people to buy alcohol, said Shabir Madhi, professor of vaccinology at the University of the Witwatersrand and director of the Medical Research Council‘s respiratory and meningeal pathogens research unit.

He was responding to a question on the “cigarette debate” on a webinar last week, reports News24.

“Unfortunately, there really isn’t much merit from a scientific perspective in terms of banning smoking but allowing people to buy alcohol – in fact, what we are seeing right now is that the sale of alcohol is resulting in an increased pressure on our healthcare facilities,” Madhi said in citing issues directly related to alcohol abuse.

Probed on the scientific evidence behind banning smoking and cigarettes, Madhi had the following to say: “The evidence around cigarettes and COVID-19 is that smokers are known to have a 1.5 greater risk at developing severe disease than non-smokers, so that is the scientific evidence. In terms of whether they are more likely to die, there isn’t very compelling evidence to show any difference in terms of COVID-19 mortality deaths.”

The scientist said this was the scientific evidence – but as to whether stopping smoking would protect you against COVID-19, the answer was “no” – because the damage caused by smoking does not occur overnight, said Madhi. there was more of a case to be made in terms of banning alcohol sales, rather than the banning of cigarettes.

“I think, unfortunately, this discussion has become unmanageable because different people have dug in their heels in terms of their position. But, from a scientific perspective, there is very little evidence to indicate that stopping smoking tonight is going to overnight result in you having a reduced risk of developing infection or severe Covid-19 because those changes in the lungs are changes that occur over a long period of time.

Full News24 report

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