By Audrey Darville
Associate professor of nursing
University of Kentucky
Though studies are still ongoing, more is known about the risks of smoking and covid-19. Early reports found people sickened with covid-19 had worse outcomes if they smoked. Recent studies have found that people who smoke have double the risk of severe infection compared to those who do not smoke.
Smoking and vaping:
- Damage to the lungs’ natural defenses against invasive bacteria and viruses.
- Expose users to chemicals that weaken the immune system and limit the body’s ability to fight infection.
- Increase the risk of heart and lung disease, conditions which increase the risk of severe complications from covid-19.
The hand-to-mouth action of smoking and vaping can increase the risk of exposure to bacteria and viruses. Smoking one pack a day results in around 300 hand-to-mouth contacts. Smoking and vaping also decrease mask-wearing time, limiting protection from virus exposure.