Dr Tom Wingfield, Senior Clinical Lecturer and Honorary Consultant Physician at the Departments of Clinical Sciences and International Public Health, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, answered our questions about why smokers face a higher risk from Covid-19 and the benefits of quitting now.
Are smokers at great risk of contracting Covid-19?
Although evidence about the risk to smokers of contracting Covid-19 is limited, it would seem likely that smokers may be at increased risk than non-smokers. Smokers are at higher risk of lung infections and pneumonia, chronic lung diseases such as “COPD”, and smoking can also dampen the immune response. In addition, regular touching of the mouth and face during smoking and sharing cigarettes could potentially increase the risk of contracting infections including Covid-19
Are smokers at greater risk of developing lung illness from Covid-19 if they catch the virus?
There is good evidence that, compared to non-smokers, smokers are at higher risk of severe Covid-19 lung disease and even death than people who do not smoke. The exact reasons behind this are not yet clear but, compared to non-smokers, smokers are more likely to have high blood pressure, chronic lung disease, heart disease, and circulatory problems, all of which are associated with higher chance of severe Covid-19 disease and death.
Can smokers improve their chances of fighting the virus if they quit smoking now?
The benefits of stopping smoking are massive and not only for your health but also for your pocket – think of all the other fantastic things you could do with the money you spend on tobacco!
In the short-term, it’s possible that quitting smoking could help you avoid Covid-19 and probable that it would improve your immune response against the coronavirus. In the long-term, not only will you save money but you will also gain years of life! Quitting smoking is one of the biggest single things you can do to improve your health.
What advice would you give to smokers now?
Quit now to save money and extend your lifespan for free!
Smokers in Wales who want to give up can access free help and advice from the NHS Wales Help Me Quit smoking cessation service by calling 0800 085 2219 or by visiting helpmequit.wales.