Stress brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic may be tempting some to turn to smoking as a way to cope, but health professionals are warning against this. New studies are showing that longtime smokers that contract coronavirus have been known to suffer from more severe side effects than those who do not smoke. In fact, health officials say kicking the habit is especially important now, according to Today.
When the coronavirus began to make its way throughout the nation in March, health officials still had a lot to learn about how it would affect different types of people. They suspected that smokers would face an increased risk of contracting the virus, but there was limited research proving that then. Now that many people have become ill and been treated, health officials know more information regarding why smokers can face an increased risk.
Jeffery Drope, the scientific vice president of economic and health policy research for the American Cancer Society, discussed what has been revealed through research regarding this topic thus far.
"The research is showing consistently that smokers who become infected with COVID-19 are experiencing worse outcomes and are more likely to require intensive treatment, [such as a] ventilator," he explained.
Furthermore, those that do smoke are essentially weakening their body's ability to fight a viral infection.
"Smoking is an established risk factor for respiratory infections, including influenza, because it undermines the immunological response that a person can otherwise mount against a viral infection," Drope went on.
In a recent analysis provided by the World Health Organization, it was stated that researchers found that smoking is "associated with increased severity of disease and death in hospitalized COVID-19 patients."
In this analysis, researchers are specifically referring to the smoking of traditional cigarettes, not vaping. However, according to Today, this does not mean that vaping can't make a person more vulnerable to COVID-19. While there is little evidence yet to connect vaping with more severe symptoms of COVID-19, there is plenty of evidence that vaping can cause lung damage and even lung disease. However, as Dr. Panagis Galiatsatos explained, when a person inhales through a vaping device there is a higher likelihood of inhaling the potentially deadly virus.
As The Inquisitr previously reported, some people are using the pandemic as motivation to quit smoking. Dr. Amy Harrington, assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, said that she has had many patients tell her that they have made the decision to quit smoking in an effort to not get the virus.