Current and former smokers have a higher severity of COVID-19, recent studies indicate.
COVID-19 patients who smoke, vape, and are former smokers make up a higher percentage among those who have had severe cases and needed ICU support and mechanical ventilation. They also make up a higher percentage of those who have died. Smokers were 1.4 times more likely to have severe cases of COVID-19 and approximately 2.4 times more likely to be admitted to an ICU, need mechanical ventilation, or die, compared to nonsmokers.
Smoking inflames the lungs and suppresses immune function. Smoking is a known risk factor for influenza, and long-term smoking can lead to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a condition that also makes people more susceptible to infection.
While there is clear scientific evidence for the risk of viral infections and cigarette smoking, there are few studies focused on vaping. However, the studies that have been done on vaping point to similar inflammation issues connected to respiratory infections, especially in those who have previously never smoked.
Those who smoke or have smoked in the past should take special precautions to prevent contracting COVID-19. For those who do not smoke, now is not the time to start. You may place yourself at a higher risk of a severe or fatal case of COVID-19 if you do contract the illness.
The following resources to help you in your journey to stop smoking.
All states have quit lines with counselors who are trained specifically to help smokers quit. Call this number (800) QUIT-NOW (800-784-8669) to connect directly to your state’s quit line. Hours of operation and services vary from state to state.
The National Cancer Institute’s trained counselors provide both English and Spanish information and support for quitting. Call Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Central time. 877-44U-QUIT (877-448-7848)
Apps that may help you quit smoking and/or vaping:
- quitSTART (Android and iPhone)
- QuitGuide (Android and iPhone)
- Smoke Free (Android and iPhone)
- Quite Smoking Hypnosis (Android and iPhone)
- Quit Genius (currently iPhone only)
- Kwit (currently iPhone only)
- Quit Tracker (currently on Android only)