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How Smoking and Vaping Influences Risk Factors of COVID-19 

Smoking tobacco products and vaping aerosols do not cause the Novel Corona Virus (COVID-19), but usage can increase your risk of developing a severe case of the virus once contracted.  

Inhaling both cigarette smoke and vaping are linked to lung inflammation and lowered immune function. This can increase your likelihood of experiencing complications during recovery. Long-term smokers and vapers are at a higher risk of chronic lung conditions which are associated with more severe cases of COVID-19.  

Evidence linking smoking and lung condition is well documented, however recently, the California Department of Public Health released an advisory urging Californians to refrain from vaping. This comes after 210 people in the state with a history of vaping were hospitalized for breathing issues and lung damage and in 4 cases were fatal. 

One study in the Chinese Medical Journal found that those with a history of smoking were 14 times more likely to develop pneumonia after contracting COVID-19. Furthermore, smoking has presented as a risk factor for influenza. 

Chronic exposure to second-hand smoke can also increase risk factors of developing a severe case of COVID-19. Children who are exposed to second-hand smoke are at an increased risk of respiratory diseases such as asthma. Asthma puts patients at an increased risk of experiencing complications because COVID-19 is a virus that effects the respiratory system. 

Stanton Glantz, the director of the Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California, San Francisco states “I think that a sensible thing to do for people is to stop smoking and stop vaping—and avoid secondhand exposure... based on what we know, generally, about smoking and e-cigarettes—and in particular about smoking and COVID-19 from people who are already sick, from one study in China—it stands to reason that you would lower your risk if you stopped doing these things.” 

Within 2-12 weeks of quitting, your lung function increases. Within 1-9 months of quitting, coughing and shortness of breath decrease. Quitting smoking or vaping can help decrease your chance of developing a severe case of COVID-19 by strengthening your immune system and lungs.

For Help Quitting Tobacco, call 1-800-NoButts or 1-800-45-No Fume.

Click here for the California Tobacco Control Program's COVID-19 and Smoking and Vaping Communications Resources.