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Smoking Increases Your Risk of Severe Illness From Coronavirus

Smoking & COVID-19

Those who smoke tobacco or marijuana (or vape) are at higher risk of experiencing more severe illness and complications from COVID-19.     

Negative Effects of Smoking:

  • Smoking or vaping irritates the airways and impairs lung function by causing swelling, narrowing, and accumulation of mucus in the airways.
  • Smoking and vaping also impair the lung’s first line of defence in clearing airways known as the mucociliary clearance system.
  • Cause damage to the air sacs of the lungs.
  • The toxic compounds in cigarettes, as well as the aerosols in e-cigarettes, have been shown to harm the cells of the lungs, promote inflammation, and reduce the ability of neutrophils (white blood cells) and macrophages (cells that remove debris and other agents) to respond to infection. 

Risk Factors:

Smoking, of course, has the potential to make pre-existing respiratory issues such as asthma and bronchitis worse.

It can also lead to the development of other serious health conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), lung cancer, and heart disease.

This makes smokers particularly vulnerable to a respiratory infection, which includes COVID-19. One of the most serious complications of COVID-19 is acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), and previous studies have shown that smokers who get a severe infection are more likely to develop ARDS. 

Smokers who have contracted COVID-19 are associated with an increased need forInvasive mechanical ventilation (IMV).

Main Point

If you smoke or vape, protect yourself by quitting. Smoking and vaping have multiple serious health implications, all of which become even more serious during the COVID-19 pandemic. The most successful approach for quitting smoking has been found to be combining nicotine replacement therapy (free through PharmaCare) with quit coaching. Speak to your primary health care provider about these options. Or access phone or text support (see resource list), join a support group, speak to a counsellor, or download a free stop-smoking app. 


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