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AG Healey Warns Against Smoking, Vaping During Pandemic

A man smokes a cigarette while wearing a protective mask while waiting for a bus in Detroit. (Paul Sancya/AP)
A man smokes a cigarette while wearing a protective mask while waiting for a bus in Detroit. (Paul Sancya/AP)
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Smoking or vaping may put people into a higher-risk category for COVID-19 and could make infections worse, Attorney General Maura Healey and Massachusetts General Hospital cautioned in an advisory sent Thursday to medical professionals, educators and parent groups.

"We are at a critical moment when it comes to combating the coronavirus pandemic — supplies and equipment are in short supply and intensive care units are filling up," Dr. Jonathan Winickoff, the director of pediatric research at the Massachusetts General Hospital Tobacco Research and Treatment Center, said in a statement.

"My message today is that it's so important you do everything you can to keep yourself healthy. If you are smoking or vaping, I urge you to quit. Quitting during this pandemic could not only save your life, but by preventing the need for treatment in a hospital, you might also save someone else's life."

Healey told WBUR that social distancing has opened some parents eyes' to the risks their kids are taking.

"You know we've heard from parents, who are sequestered at home with their families and they're realizing that their child is vaping — is addicted," she said. "And they're looking for help."

Healey said  people who are feeling anxious at this time should find alternatives, and the state has resources to help people quit smoking and vaping.

The advisory provides information on resources for quitting smoking, including the coaching and support hotline 1-800-QUIT-NOW.

With additional reporting from WBUR's Quincy Walters

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