Smoking And Coronavirus- Are You At Higher Risk Of COVID-19?

Does smoking multiply the risk of coronavirus and hence, should you stop?

Clearly, smoking is injurious to health and, therefore highly condemned by medical science especially during coronavirus when your immunity demands more from you. It is a habit that weakens the immune system and leads to plenty of health complications, the major being lung cancer. 

It is the leading cause of preventable disease and disability, and deaths in the United States. Almost 34 million adults in the United States smoke cigarettes as per 2019, including about 4.7 million middle and high school students who use at least one tobacco product. 16 million US citizens are living with some sort of smoking related disease. 

Almost 1,600 people younger than 18 years of age light their first cigarette everyday in America. Around half a million Americans die prematurely either because of smoking or by getting exposed to passive smoking. 

All the facts mentioned above are stated by the Center For Disease Control And Prevention. Now the question is, are all these millions of smokers at a greater risk of COVID-19? We will get to know about it, but before let’s find out a relation between smoking and COVID-19.

Is There A Correlation Between Nicotine Usage And COVID-19?

There is no peer-reviewed study that evaluates the risk of correlation between  SARS-CoV-2 infection and smoking. However, other complications are associated with smokers that can put them at risk of getting infected by the COVID-19.

These common complications include improper functioning of the respiratory system, damage of the heart, blood circulation, and other developing conditions, such as:-

  • Coronary heart disease
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Peripheral vascular disease(damaged blood vessels)
  • Cerebrovascular disease(damaged arteries that carry blood to the brain)

Additionally, these are the secondary risk factors, and smoking also contributes to the primary risk factors(respiratory system), such as:-

Smoking negatively affect your respiratory system and when it comes to coronavirus, people with weak immune and respiratory systems are at high risk of getting infected with COVID-19.

Hence, even if there is no specific evidence/relationship between smoking and COVID-19, tobacco smokers are at a greater risk of COVID-19.

If not medically, smoking and coronavirus are linked practically, increasing your chances to contract COVID-19

The coronavirus usually enters into the body through openings, such as the mouth, eyes, nose, anal, and ears. Smokers usually share cigarettes, waterpipes, bidis, cigars, and other heated tobacco products. 

Additionally, the act of smoking also involves contact of fingers with lips. These activities increase the risk of entering the virus into the body. Thus directly or indirectly, as per our common sense, smokers are at a greater risk of COVID-19.  

As per the WHO, there is no evidence between smoking and COVID-19, but according to our common sense, smoking involves activities that help the virus to enter the body. However, increasing the risk of getting infected by the coronavirus.

Like smoking water pipes, also known as hookah, it usually involves sharing the mouthpiece and hoses, which facilitates the virus from spreading by breaking communal and social settings.

Smoking weakens the lungs and coronavirus attacks the respiratory system of the body

Smoking any kind of tobacco will reduce lung capacity and increases the risk of respiratory complications. At the same time, COVID-19 is a type of infectious disease that primarily attacks the respiratory system, especially the lungs.

A weak respiratory system will find it difficult to fight against COVID19. But when we talk of specific evidence or any proof about the smokers at a greater risk of COVID-19, there is no specific or sufficient evidence to confirm any relationship between smoking tobacco and COVID-19.

WHO suggests researchers, scientists, and the media be careful about amplifying unproven claims that tobacco or nicotine could lower the risk of COVID-19. 

What WHO Has To Say About Tobacco Users?

WHO recommends quitting tobacco use, as it will help the lungs and heart function properly. You will get to know the difference; within 20 minutes of quitting, elevated heart rate, and blood pressure drops.

After 12 hours of quitting smoking, the level of carbon monoxide in the blood will drop to normal, and within 2-12 weeks, blood circulation will also improve along with lung function. Quitting smoking will help not only you but also the people living around you and your loved ones.

Keeping the deadly consequences of smoking, WHO recommends not to smoke in any which way.  Quitting will help your lungs and heart to work better from the moment you stop; within 20 minutes of quitting, elevated heart rate, and blood pressure drop.

What Can Be Done To Protect Smokers From COVID-19?

Below are some points to remember for all the smokers that are at a greater risk of COVID-19:-

  • If you are addicted to smoking, use e-cigarettes, or use smokeless tobacco. But now is a good time to say no to smoking completely.
  • Do not share water pipes and e-cigarettes or such devices with others.
  • Make people aware of the risks of smoking, using e-cigarettes, and using smokeless tobacco.
  • Don’t let second-hand smoke harm others.
  • Never spit in public places.
  • Since it is a coronavirus time, it is essential to remember the necessary measures in your daily activity, such as washing hands frequently, maintaining social distancing, and avoiding sharing any smoking or e-cigarette products.
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Janet Fudge

Janet Fudge writes on general health topics for She holds a post-graduate diploma in Public Health with a major in epidemiology. During the outbreak of COVID-19, Janet actively volunteered in vaccination drives throughout the state of Iowa. She lives in Iowa with her husband and two children.