Smoking and COVID-19: What are the risks?
Smoking and vaping can increase your risk on getting COVID-19
Written by spunout
Fact checked by experts and reviewed by young people.
If you smoke, you may be worried about the impact that this can have on your health and if it increases your chances of getting COVID-19. Smoking increases the likelihood of contracting COVID-19 for a combination of reasons and if you are feeling worried about the situation there is support available to you to help quit. Find out more about quitting for good.
Does smoking increase the risk of COVID-19?
Smoking increases the risk of infections related to breathing, such as the flu, as it affects the immunity of cells in your airways, lung tissue and throughout your body and reduces your body’s natural protection against infections. Similarly to the flu, COVID-19 affects your upper respiratory tract, which is made up of the passages that take air into your lungs such as your nose, mouth and throat, before infecting your lungs.
If you smoke, you are more likely to get COVID-19 and risk having a worse infection compared to those who don’t. Disease caused by smoking such as cardiovascular disease, which can lead to a heart attack, and chronic lung disease can also increase the risk of severe COVID-19.
How does smoking increase your risk of COVID-19?
Smoking also increases your risk of getting COVID-19 due to the action of touching your face. Coronavirus is spread through droplets that come from the airways by coughing or sneezing. To become infected, these droplets are passed from an infected person’s nose or mouth into the eyes, nose or mouth of another person. When smoking, you are more likely to touch your face and mouth and to share things such as lighters and cigarettes between people. Doing this increases your chances of getting COVID-19.
Another increased risk of getting COVID-19 when smoking is that people are more likely to stand closer to one another when smoking, and not to follow the social distancing 2 meter guidelines. If you choose to smoke it is important to keep your distance from others when doing so, to wash your hands before and after smoking and not to share lighters or cigarettes.
Find out more about protecting yourself from COVID-19.
How to decrease the risk of getting COVID-19 when smoking?
If you choose to smoke you cannot lessen the risk of damaging your respiratory system, such as your nose, mouth, throat and lungs. However, you can lower the risk of contracting COVID-19 by:
- Washing your hands before and after you smoke
- Avoid sharing cigarettes
- Avoid sharing lighters
- Avoid sharing vapes or e-cigarettes
- Avoid rolling cigarettes for other people
- Regularly clean and disinfect any vapes or e-cigarettes you may use
- Maintain social distancing of 2 meters if smoking with other people
Quitting smoking during COVID-19
If you would like to quit smoking there are supports available to help. Visit our Smoking section to find advice on ways to help you quit smoking and vaping for good.