Studies indicate that smoking may increase a person’s chances of contracting the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19. They also suggest that smoking may worsen COVID-19 symptoms and increase the likelihood of COVID-19 complications.
Medical professionals recommend quitting smoking to reduce the risk of infections and diseases and improve overall health.
This article examines the link between smoking and COVID-19 and answers some frequently asked questions about the association. It also offers tips for quitting smoking.
All data and statistics are based on publicly available data at the time of publication. Some information may be out of date. Visit our coronavirus hub for the most recent information on the COVID-19 pandemic.
Below are some factors that influence the association between smoking and COVID-19.
- increased rate of hand-to-mouth contact
- sharing of cigarettes and smoking devices
increasedincidence of mouth breathing, which reduces the filtration of microorganisms in the upper respiratory system
A 2022 study highlights the association between smoking and increased rates of infection. The study reanalyzed data from between 1986 and 1989, where researchers exposed 399 healthy adults to 1 of 5 common cold viruses. The reanalysis found that participants who smoked had a 12% increase in the risk of having a laboratory-confirmed infection compared with people who did not smoke.
According to the
In line with this, a 2022 study found that people with COPD have worse COVID-19 outcomes compared to those who do not have COPD. This may be because people with COPD experience repeated lung infections and are more susceptible to viruses entering the lungs.
The study found that smoking:
- increases the chance of the SARS-CoV-2 virus entering the body
- aids the progression of COVID-19
- worsens symptoms of COVID-19
The study authors note that while smokers are more susceptible to COVID-19, the nicotine compound in smoke may inhibit the growth of SARS-CoV-2. Nonetheless, they point out that smoking increases the risk of diseases that can worsen the outlook for COVID-19, including:
As such, smoking has an overall detrimental effect on COVID-19 outcomes.
According to the British Heart Foundation (BHF), quitting smoking is the most important step a person can take to improve their health.
The BHF notes that a person may experience easier breathing within the first few days of quitting smoking and improved blood flow within the first few weeks.
Other benefits of quitting smoking include the following:
- reduced incidence and severity of lung infections
- reduced risk of smoking-related respiratory conditions
- reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases, such as stroke and heart attack
People can also reduce their risk of contracting the SARS-CoV-2 virus, leading to severe COVID-19. The
- washing hands regularly with soap and water or regularly applying hand sanitizer containing at least
- avoiding touching the face with unwashed hands
- avoiding close contact with others and staying 6 feet away from anyone who is coughing and sneezing
- covering the mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing
- staying home if unwell
The United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS) recommends that people who are trying to quit smoking consider:
- speaking with a doctor or other healthcare professional about quitting
- telling others of their intention to quit
- building a support system of friends or family members who have successfully quit smoking
- joining online support groups
- listing and avoiding triggers for smoking
- avoiding being around other people who smoke
- throwing away all cigarettes, ashtrays, and other smoking paraphernalia
- considering nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), such as gums, patches, and inhalers
- exercising or keeping busy to keep cravings at bay
Below are some answers to frequently asked questions about smoking and COVID-19.
Does smoking make COVID-19 worse?
- cardiovascular events
- COVID-19 severity
- COVID-19 mortality
Using the registry, the researchers analyzed data from 6,717 people admitted to the hospital with COVID-19 in 2019. They matched participant groups according to the following factors:
- medical history
- length of hospital stay
Does smoking slow down COVID-19 recovery?
A 2021 report showed that current smokers were 80% more likely to be admitted to the hospital and were significantly more likely to die from COVID-19. This suggests that smoking may worsen COVID-19 symptoms and recovery.
According to a
The researchers compared cumulative smokers with people who had never smoked (never-smokers). Their results suggest the following:
- Compared with never-smokers, people who had smoked for over 30 years were 2.25 times more likely to go to the hospital with COVID-19.
- Compared with never-smokers, people who had smoked for more than 30 years were 1.89 times more likely to die following a diagnosis of COVID-19.
The study authors suggested that the association between cumulative smoking and more negative COVID-19 outcomes is likely due to the detrimental effect smoking has on overall health.
COVID-19 is an infectious disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The disease primarily attacks the respiratory system.
Smoking has numerous detrimental effects on health, including the health of the respiratory and immune systems. Recent research suggests that smoking increases the likelihood of exposure to the SARS-CoV-2 virus and links to an increase in the risk of COVID-19 severity and complications.
People who want to quit smoking can talk with their doctor or pharmacist for information and advice. Some helpful methods for quitting include joining a support group, identifying and avoiding smoking triggers, and trying nicotine replacement therapy.