Smoking, Vaping, and COVID-19: Frequently Asked Questions

We've put together some answers to common questions about smoking and COVID-19. Read about the evidence and learn how to keep yourself safe.

As COVID-19 continues to progress, questions are arising about the relationship between smoking and the virus, particularly if continuing to smoke makes you more likely to get COVID-19. QuitNow is always here to help, especially in times of uncertainty, and we want to provide you with fact-based answers to the questions you might have.

 

Key points:

  • There is strong evidence that smoking increases the risk of both bacterial and viral infections, such as the common cold or flu.
  • Smoking weakens the body’s immune cells over time and makes it harder to fight infections. Tobacco smoke also impacts lung function, such as by causing mucus buildup in your lungs, which also increases the risk of infection.
  • We do not know how these factors relate specifically to COVID-19, but the key takeaway is that there could be a link, and attempting to quit could help lower your risk and reduce your chances of complications from the virus.
  • QuitNow is here to support you, whether you are ready to quit or would just like more information.

Please note: If you have specific questions about COVID-19 or are experiencing any symptoms, please visit the Health Link BC or the BC Centres for Disease Control websites or call 1-888-COVID19 for more information on the virus.

Below are some frequently asked questions about COVID-19 and smoking/vaping:

If I smoke, am I more likely to get COVID-19?

So far, we are not sure if people who smoke are more likely to be infected by COVID-19. We do know that people who smoke are generally at a higher risk of getting chest and lung infections, due to the damage that smoking causes to the lungs and the immune system. Smoking also involves repetitive hand-to-mouth movements, which provide a route of entry for viruses such as COVID-19 into the respiratory tract. Thus, it does appear likely that smoking would increase your risk of COVID-19.

There is also growing evidence that people who smoke are likely to experience complications or more severe cases of COVID-19 if they do become infected. Tobacco smoke harms your lungs, including their ability to self-clean, and damages your immune system. This makes it harder to fight off infection and increases the risk of an infection becoming more serious. A review of cases of COVID-19 in China found that smokers were 1.4 times more likely to experience severe symptoms of COVID-19.

The bottom line: Smoking may or may not increase your chances of getting COVID-19 but, in the absence of more information, tobacco smoking appears to be the most important avoidable risk factor for a more severe case of COVID-19.