Smoking causes numerous health problems. Each and every year, it kills nearly 8 million people due to cardiovascular disease, lung illness, cancer, diabetes, and hypertension. Moreover, smoking is also a proven risk factor for severe diseases and mortality from a variety of respiratory infections. In the COVID-19 pandemic, certain concerns have been raised about the clinical outcomes for smokers, if they are more susceptible to infection, and whether nicotine has any biological effect on the SAR-CoV-2 virus.
Do smokers get more severe symptoms of Covid-19 infection?
The risk of smokers being infected by SARS-CoV-2
At the time being, there are no peer-reviewed studies that have evaluated the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection among smokers. Smokers may be more susceptible to COVID-19 infection because smoking includes the contact of fingers or perhaps infected cigarettes, with the lips, which enhances the possibility of virus transfer from hand to mouth. Besides that, waterpipe smoking, also known as shisha or hookah, frequently involves sharing of mouthpieces and hoses, which could facilitate the spread of the coronavirus in communal and social contexts.
Severity of symptoms if smokers infected by SARS-CoV-2
Any form of smoking reduces the lung capacity and increases the risk of many respiratory infections, as well as the severity of respiratory disorders. As COVID-19 is a viral infection that mostly affects the lungs, and smoking decreases lung function, making it more difficult for the body to fight coronaviruses and other respiratory tract infections. Therefore, it is logical to have the idea that COVID-19 will cause a more severe form of symptoms in smokers, and according to available studies, smokers are at a higher risk of experiencing catastrophic COVID-19 results, even death. There are 27 observational studies, which found that smokers constituted about 1.4 to 18.5 percent among hospitalized adults.
Do E-cigarette share the same risk?
There is no evidence to suggest the connection between e-cigarette usage and COVID-19. However, existing research indicates that electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) and electronic non-nicotine delivery systems (ENNDS), also known as e-cigarettes, are evenly harmful and raise the risk of heart and lung diseases. Because the COVID-19 virus primarily targets the respiratory system, hand-to-mouth e-cigarette use may enhance the chance of infection. Deterioration of the lung functions will somehow affect the symptoms experienced and the outcome.
Methods to reduce risks for smokers
- If you smoke, use smokeless tobacco such as chewing tobacco instead, take it as a good chance to quit smoking completely.
- Increase the awareness about the dangers of smoking, using e-cigarettes, and smokeless tobacco.
- Do not share cigarettes, e-cigarettes and any other forms of smoking devices.
- Do not spit in the public.
- Understand the significance of hand washing, physical distance, and no sharing any smoking or e-cigarette products.
- Keep in mind the safety of others and the dangers of secondhand smoking.
Vaccine and smoking
The majority of the studies are inconclusive, and some evidence suggests that they are funded by cigarette lobbyists in various parts of the world. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) warns smokers that they are at a higher risk of COVID-19 infection, so they should get vaccinated as soon as possible. This is because they are more vulnerable and may face harsh consequences. Meanwhile, Covid 19 vaccine is practically effective in promoting body immunity and protection against COVID-19.
Some medical professionals also advise to avoid smoking after the first dose because it is thought to diminish the antibody response. Instead, smokers can use alternatives such as a nicotine patch or gum to quit smoking. The reason being, cigarette smoking affects the ability to generate memory cells, which are essential for maintaining the protective immune response induced by vaccines.
With or without COVID-19, we are all aware of the negative effects of smoking on our health. So, stop looking for any reasons or excuses to puff, because it always does more harm than good.