COVID-19 is a new illness that can affect your lungs and airways. It’s caused by a virus called coronavirus.
Smoking and coronavirus
Smoking causes damage to the lungs and weakens a person’s immune system. This makes it more likely that if a person falls sick they can have complications and take longer to recover. The evidence clearly shows COVID-19 virus attacks the respiratory system, which explains why smokers are at greater risk.
It doesn’t matter what kind of smoking a person does – cigarettes, shisha, cannabis, or any other substances will also increase a person’s risks.
Secondhand smoke in the home and in other enclosed spaces also increase the risk. This is particularly so for children and those with existing health conditions, so smokers should take every effort to protect them from exposure by going smoke free.
Smokers who are self-isolating and are not able to go outside to smoke should seek alternatives such as Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) or e-cigarettes to protect the people around them from harm. Our specialist service can offer telephone support and medication to help you stay smokefree. You can refer yourself to us by filling in our online form.
Fresh has produced two videos explaining the risks related to smoking and COVID-19 and encouraging smokers to quit:
- Video with Dr Nick Hopkinson, Reader in Respiratory Medicine at Imperial College London and Chair of ASH
- Video with Dr Ruth Sharrock, Respiratory Consultant at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Gateshead
Secretary of State for Health Matt Hancock said:
“It is abundantly clear from the research into previous coronaviruses that smoking makes the impact of a coronavirus worse.”
This echoes the advice of the Chief Medical Officer Prof Chris Whitty to the Health Select Committee who said:
“If you are going to give up smoking, this is a very good moment to do it.”
eCigarettes and coronavirus
Some media are also reporting that vapers face additional risks from coronavirus. The evidence for this is far less clear. Smokers who have switched to vaping should be reassured that this is better for them than smoking.
Advice for smokers
Quitting smoking is an important way for individuals to reduce their risk from coronavirus (COVID-19).
Smoking increases the risk of lung infections. Smokers are twice as likely to get pneumonia and five times more likely to get flu than non-smokers.
Quitting smoking rapidly reduces your risk of other health problems such as heart attack and stroke. It is especially important to prevent these problems, at a time like now, when health systems are going to come under strain.