Smokers at a Higher Risk of COVID-Infection

You’ve learned how the elderly and people with chronic medical conditions are at a higher risk of infecting the coronavirus (COVID-19), but what about people who smoke? Since COVID-19 attacks the lungs, could people who smoke, vape, and use tobacco be at a higher risk than those who don’t partake?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “Smokers are likely to be more vulnerable to COVID-19 as the act of smoking means that fingers (and possibly contaminated cigarettes) are in contact with lips which increases the possibility of transmission of virus from hand to mouth. Smokers may also already have lung disease or reduced lung capacity which would greatly increase risk of serious illness.”

With many smoking products, people share mouthpieces and hoses in social settings, which can encourage the spread of COVID-19. One example is water pipes. Because smoking reduces the body’s ability to use oxygen properly and it increases the body’s oxygen needs, it can put the person at a higher risk of a serious lung condition like pneumonia, WHO warns.

Quitting Smoking or Vaping

If you’re following social distancing protocols, staying home, washing your hands or using hand sanitizer, and cleaning frequently-touched surfaces, that’s great, you’re helping to slow the spread of COVID-19.

However, if you happen to smoke or vape, there’s something else that you should do that’s very important. According to Albert Rizzo, M.D., the chief medical officer at the American Lung Association, one of the most important steps you can take to prevent getting the disease is to consider quitting smoking and vaping.

“COVID-19 is a lung infection that aggressively attacks the lungs and even leaves lung cells and tissue dead,” Dr. Rizzo said. “While it’s important to prevent getting COVID-19 in the first place, it’s also essential that we do all we can to keep our lungs healthy to avoid the worst effects of the disease.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that people who are immunocompromised are at a high risk of being infected with COVID-19. While chronic health conditions, such as diabetes and asthma make people more vulnerable to contracting the disease, so does smoking, according to the CDC.

To learn more about smoking and COVID-19 from WHO, click here.

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