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Smokers are more likely to have COVID-19 complications

A hand holding a lit cigarette.

Tobacco smokers may be at greater risk for serious complications caused by COVID-19, the disease triggered by the coronavirus. One study found that people who smoke were more than twice as likely to have severe symptoms from COVID-19 compared to people who did not smoke.

That's because COVID-19 primarily attacks your airways and lungs. These parts of the body are already vulnerable if you're a smoker.

Smoking tobacco disrupts the immune system, causing inflammation in our airways. It also inhibits the body's ability to fight infections like those caused by the coronavirus.

In response to the serious COVID-19 complications smokers are experiencing, the World Health Organization is urging people to quit smoking.  

Tips to quit without leaving home

You also don't have to leave the house to find support. Groups like the American Lung Association (ALA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offer online and telephone counseling to help you stop smoking.

Here are some ways you can get started on your quit journey:

Join an online program. The ALA offers an online program called Freedom From Smoking Plus. You can choose your quit day. And you can create a personalized plan to get ready for it. You also can share your experiences virtually with others going through the same thing.

Call a quitline. Call 1.800.QUIT.NOW (1.800.784.8669) to connect with a highly trained quit coach. They can give you tips on:

  • Dealing with cravings and withdrawal.
  • Getting the right kind of help from loved ones.
  • Finding which websites, apps and texting programs might help.
  • Whether to use quit-smoking medication—and how.

Make a telehealth appointment. You can also try setting up a video appointment with your doctor. Let your doctor know your quit plans. Ask your doctor to recommend a quit-smoking medication. Some of these require a prescription and some don't.

Learn more about COVID-19 by visiting our Coronavirus health topic center.

Reviewed 9/22/2020

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