Smoking and Coronavirus (COVID-19)
You already have a list of reasons why you want to quit smoking. Is coronavirus another reason to ditch cigarettes for good? Explore information on smoking and coronavirus below.
The Harms of Smoking
Smoking can be harmful to your health. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) names smoking as a cause of various diseases, including cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung diseases, diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).1 What’s more, smoking tobacco puts you at higher risk for severe disease and death from respiratory infections.2 The loss of life due to tobacco-related diseases is prevalent, with deaths totaling up to 8 million per year.3
The health risks of smoking are well-known. With the rise and spread of the novel COVID-19 virus, many people question whether smokers are at higher risk. Findings continue to emerge and evolve as researchers learn more and more about this new strain of coronavirus that is changing our world. In this article, we share what we know so far about smoking and coronavirus.
Overview of COVID-19
COVID-19 is respiratory illness caused by a new virus.4 You may hear “COVID-19” and “coronavirus” used interchangeably. However, they are actually two separate terms. “COVID-19” is the name of the disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).5 In contrast, “coronavirus” refers to a large family of viruses that affect both animals and humans, including COVID-19.6
What Are the Symptoms of Coronavirus?
Symptoms of COVID-19 vary from person to person and some people may not show any symptoms at all. Symptoms of COVID-19 can include:
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath
- Nasal congestion
- Body aches
- Sore throat
- New loss of smell or taste
- Nausea or vomiting
How COVID-19 Is Spread
COVID-19 is a contagious disease spread person-to-person primarily through respiratory droplets.8 When an infected person sneezes, coughs, or talks, they risk spreading the virus to another person.9 A person may become sick with COVID-19 if infected respiratory droplets land in their mouth or nose; they may also become sick by touching objects or surfaces with infected respiratory droplets before touching their face.10
The Link Between Smoking and COVID-19
Experts know about the negative effects of smoking on your body. Does smoking also make you more likely to become infected by COVID-19, or can it worsen the severity of COVID-19 symptoms? Some studies about smoking and COVID-19 have been completed on the topic, and as we learn more and more about the virus, many more studies will need to be completed. Here’s what the research says so far about smoking and coronavirus.
Does Smoking Cigarettes Make You More Likely to Catch Coronavirus?
According to several sources, there is no direct evidence that smoking increases your chances of catching the COVID-19 virus.11, 12, 13 However, smoking can in fact weaken the immune system.14 Since smoking makes your body less successful at fighting illness, smokers may be more susceptible to infections from viruses like COVID-19. 15
Does Smoking Cigarettes Increase the Severity of COVID-19 symptoms?
Smoking can weaken the immune system and negatively impact your health in many ways. In addition to putting you at higher risk for several respiratory infections, it can also harm the organs in your body, such as your heart and lungs. According to the American Cancer Society, smoking is a risk factor for COPD and heart disease.16 Both COPD and heart disease put you at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.17
Does Smoking Increase the Spread of the Coronavirus?
Many people wear masks as a safety measure to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.23 Since you need to take your mask off to smoke, you may be more likely to contract the virus yourself or spread the virus to others. Hand hygiene is important too. Experts recommend hand washing and alcohol-based hand rub as an everyday preventative precaution.24 When a smoker holds a cigarette up to their mouth, they risk touching their face. There is no direct evidence that this occurrence is a risk factor for COVID-19, but it is something you may want to keep in mind, especially if you tend to touch your face often.
Quit Smoking for Your Health
Remember that smoking has other well-known negative effects on your organs, such as your heart and lungs. For the sake of your health, make this the year you finally get over smoking. Take steps to stop smoking to help support a healthier, happier life.
*COVID-19 is a rapidly-evolving global public health situation, for the latest information please watch the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC link]. If you have questions about your individual treatments needs, please speak directly to your doctor or pharmacist.