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News Stories

Does Smoking Increase Coronavirus Risk?

The coronavirus pandemic that has swept across the globe has dramatically affected the lives of most people in one way or another. There have been well over 1.3 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 80,000 COVID-19 deaths in the United States as of this writing, and predictions are showing that these numbers are expected to continue to rise. By now, most of us realize that there are certain people that face more risks of a severe infection caused by the coronavirus.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said that those who are aged 65 and over and those with pre-existing health conditions (heart disease, lung disease, weakened immune systems, obesity) more likely to become seriously ill or die due to COVID-19. However, there are other risk factors that fall more under our control, including smoking and vaping.

How does smoking and vaping affect COVID-19 patients?

Smoking and vaping are habits that people should work on breaking regardless of whether or not there is a global health crisis. It should not surprise anybody that smoking and vaping could be particularly detrimental to those who contract this coronavirus. COVID-19 attacks the respiratory system, which means anybody with damaged lungs will be more vulnerable.

Right now, there is not much data concerning the relationship between smoking and COVID-19. It is important to understand that this is a relatively new global health crisis that did not even begin to show up on our radar until late 2019. Most medical studies take years to conduct, so most that data we have right now is anecdotal and working from what we know about how smoking and vaping affect the lungs.

There is one study that was published in the Chinese Medical Journal that found that, out of 78 patients they studied who had COVID-19, those who had a history of smoking were 14 times as likely to develop pneumonia than those who did not smoke. While this is a relatively small study, we have to use all evidence available to us right now to make appropriate predictions until larger and more long-term studies can be conducted.

The study out of China also finds that men are faring far worse than women when it comes to COVID-19. The study suggests that, because men smoke at much higher rates than women do, this could be the main reason that men have been more severely affected.

Dr. Jeffrey A. Linder, chief of the division of general internal medicine and geriatrics at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine said that “Having damaged lungs and getting a lung infection is a double whammy.”

Other respiratory illnesses and smoking

While research studying the link between COVID-19 and smoking may be new, we have extensive research available that has examined the link between other respiratory illnesses and smoking. There is a large amount of research that proves the smoking inflames the lungs and suppresses a person’s immune system. Smoking also weakens the heart and puts a person at risk factors for other severe diseases. Based on this data, and what we know about how COVID-19 affects victims, it is clear that those who smoke likely face a much higher risk of serious illness or death due to the disease. Contact our Orange County personal injury lawyers if you have additional questions.