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Smoking and vaping increase risk of serious illness with coronavirus – experts

Smoking or vaping increases the chance that you will become very ill if you contract coronavirus.

Dr Stanton A. Glantz, Director of the US Center for Tobacco Research Control & Education is advising all to stop smoking and vaping to reduce the risk of serious lung disease caused by coronavirus.

“When someone’s lungs are exposed to flu or other infections the adverse effects of smoking or vaping are much more serious than among people who do not smoke or vape,” Dr Glantz says.

Smoking is associated with increased development of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) in people with a risk factor like severe infection, non-pulmonary sepsis (blood infection), or blunt trauma. People who have any cotinine (a metabolite of nicotine) in their bodies – even at the low levels associated with secondhand smoke – have substantially increased risk of acute respiratory failure from ARDS.”

Research has also confirmed that e-cigarettes impair lungs’ ability to fight off infections. Reporting of respiratory symptoms by e-cigarette users suggests increased susceptibility to and/or delayed recovery from respiratory infections.

Studies in animals also reinforce the effects smoking have on human beings. Although more studies are needed, the animal data suggesting that vaping leads to an increased susceptibility to infection would seem to correlate with the population level data in young adult humans, whereby vapers have increased rates of symptoms of chronic bronchitis.

Consistent with this science, analysis of deaths from corona virus in China shows that men are more likely to die than women, something that may be related to the fact that many more Chinese men smoke than women.

Among Chinese patients diagnosed with COVID-19 associated pneumonia, the odds of disease progression (including to death) were 14 times higher among people with a history of smoking compared to those who did not smoke. This was the strongest risk factor among those examined.

It is therefore evident that stopping smoking, vaping, and avoiding secondhand exposure to smoke should be added to the list of important preventive measures against coronavirus.

Smokers who are concerned should make best of use of this opportunity to quit smoking altogether. This is the best moment to do so.