Updated: Apr 14, 2020
These are worrying times. Health is high on the agenda, and we know a fitter, healthier body is less likely to get ill – and more likely to recover if it does.
One of the keys to coping with COVID-19 is doing what you can to be healthy. You already know smoking isn’t good for you – I’m not here to lecture you about that.
But I am here to help. I’ve gathered a lot of the information (some of which might surprise you) about smoking and the COVID-19 health crisis.
If you’ve been thinking about stopping smoking, now is the time.
Smoking & COVID-19: Simple Facts
Stop smoking now and you can reduce your own risk, and the risk to others.
Smoking increases your risk of developing severe symptoms if you catch coronavirus, plus it can increase transmission of the virus due to the hand-to-mouth action. We know that smoking has negative effects on the immune system, heart function and circulation. As a smoker, you are “vulnerable” to this virus – whatever age you are.
Do it for yourself. For your kids or grandchildren. Or for humanity as a whole, if that’s what does it for you.
But the message is clear: stop if you can. And you can – I promise you. I’ve done it, and now I can coach and support others as they quit, so I know what I'm talking about.
What The Science Says
Sharon Cox, Senior Research Fellow at London South Bank University, published in the British Medical Journal, said on March 20th: “Smokers are one group of adults who are at particular risk if they catch the virus.” (1)
On March 17th 2020, the Secretary of State for Health Matt Hancock said: “It is abundantly clear that smoking makes the impact of a coronavirus worse.”
In 2009, researchers discovered exactly why smokers (and passive smokers) are at greater risk of viral infections. The study – called “Cigarette smoke alters respiratory syncytial virus-induced apoptosis and replication” – found that cigarette smoke increases inflammation and enhances viral replication. (2)
More recently, a 2019 study on actual COVID-19 patients found that of a sample of 1,099 confirmed cases, 12.4% of current smokers needed intensive care unit admission or mechanical ventilation, or died - compared with 4.7% of non-smokers. (3)
Global Health 5050 has been gathering data about COVID-19 deaths, and it seems men are more at risk than women. (4) In China 71% of coronavirus deaths are male. Nearly 50% of men in China smoke, compared to only about 2% of women.
This trend – of much higher rates of death in men – is seen across all nations. Could smoking be the factor?
I’m not here to scare you. But this is serious, and anything you can do to be healthier has to be worth it.
Just ask yourself – is it time to stop smoking?
7 Benefits Of Quitting
Save money – we are facing an uncertain financial future
Reduce chance of virus transmission to self and others
Healthier lungs, throat, and respiratory system
Protect your immune system – smoking alters your immune cells
Less risk of serious infection and complications from the virus
Less risk of developing chronic lung conditions
Get yourself out of the “vulnerable” category
What Happens To Your Body When You Quit?
The benefits of stopping smoking start almost immediately! It’s pretty incredible.
After just 48 hours, your body will have got rid of all that carbon monoxide, your lungs will start to clear out mucus, and your sense of taste and smell will be improved (did you know that loss of taste and smell is a symptom of COVID-19?)
After 72 hours, it will feel easier to breathe, because your bronchial tubes have started to relax.
After 2 weeks, your circulation improves. At 3 months, your lung function will have increased by up to 10%. And after 1 year, your risk of heart attack and lung cancer will have halved.
Breathing easily, good lung function, better health - these are things you desperately need during the COVID-19 crisis. And we don't know how long this virus is going to be around for.
What About Vaping?
None of the experts I’ve listened to can say with confidence that it doesn’t put you at higher risk of this virus. Vaping drags vapour droplets into your respiratory system and lungs – exactly what we do not want during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you want my advice, yes, I advise stopping vaping too. Is it really worth the risk?
Why Now Is The Right Time
It’s a no-brainer. You already know that smoking isn’t healthy. Perhaps you’ve tried stopping before.
I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know.
But what’s different is the context. We are all facing a very real, very scary health threat. COVID-19 attacks the respiratory system and leaves people struggling to breathe. Stopping smoking will reduce your risks and put you in a much stronger position. The time is now.
This could be the best opportunity to change your life. Don’t ignore this.
Get Real-Life Support To Stop – For Good
Visit www.todayistheday.co.uk to get official, free advice and support on how to quit, or if that's not enough and you need some individual, in depth one-to-one, personalised support, I can help.
DM me or leave a comment if you want to know more.
Edit: since originally publishing this article further data has emerged to suggest that "smokers who contracted coronavirus were 14 times more likely to develop a severe form of the disease." 5.