WHEN you live in a place where cigarettes are possibly the cheapest in Europe, it is easy to start smoking and keep puffing away.
When the border is open, one of the attractions to visitors to the Rock is to buy cheap cigarettes or tobacco within the limits prescribed by law.
Gibraltar has taken steps to try to stop the tobacco smuggling across to Spain but clearly the way to stop it overnight is to bring prices in line with those on mainland Spain, but that would potentially hurt a number of shops and business on the Rock. Despite the importance of tobacco revenue, Public Health Gibraltar is set to launch its new campaign Covid Fit to ensure members of the community are best informed about the choices they make when isolating in their homes during these unprecedented times.
The Stub It. Stop It. Get Covid Fit initiative follows on from key messages in recent statements by the Gibraltar Health Authority’s (GHA) Medical Director Dr Krishna Rawal on the importance of stopping smoking.
Covid-19 attacks the respiratory system placing smokers at increased risk of severe illness and death. Emerging evidence from China shows smokers with Covid-19 are 14 times more likely to develop severe respiratory disease according to the GHA.
Public Health England says that if you smoke, you are not only putting yourself at greater risk of developing severe disease but those around you exposed to second hand smoke, including children, are also put at increased risk.
Furthermore, the repetitive hand to mouth movement provides an easy route of entry for the virus, putting smokers at greater risk of contracting Covid-19.
Dr Sohail Bhatti, Director of Public Health said “Even stopping for one week allows the remarkable healing power of lungs to recover and replenish its defences. If you find it too difficult, then use vaping.”
Despite various anti-smoking campaigns there are no graphic health images on cigarette packets sold in Gibraltar.