Smokers encouraged to use free quitline to help protect against COVID-19 complications

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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WSPA) – Health officials in South Carolina are encouraging smokers to use a free resource to help quit smoking, possibly protecting them against COVID-19 complications.

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) officials say now is an important time to quit smoking.

Those who smoke may experience more severe complications of coronavirus, new research shows.

“The immune system is the body’s way of protecting us from infections and disease, so it’s critical to keep it functioning at its best right now,” said Dr. Virginie Daguise, DHEC’s Director of the Bureau of Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention. “Smoking harms the immune system, which is why free quitting services like the S.C. Tobacco Quitline are so important. Recent findings from the CDC show that smoking can increase the risk for more severe illness from COVID-19.”

DHEC’s S.C. Tobacco Quitline (1-800-QUIT-NOW) provides free one-on-one telephone coaching and web-based support 24 hours, seven days a week to help tobacco users quit.

The Quitline can help individuals develop personalized quit plans and free nicotine replacement therapy- such as patches, gum and lozenges are available to callers.

Services can be accessed by phone or online, allowing South Carolinians to stay at home.

Health officials say smoking inflames the lungs. Even one or two cigarettes can cause irritation or coughing. When you quit smoking, the inflammation in the airways begins to go down and your lungs can start the recovery process.

For more information and resources, visit www.scdhec.gov/quitforkeeps or call the S.C. Tobacco Quitline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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