September 27, 2023

Are smokers at higher risk from COVID-19?


Are smokers at higher risk from COVID-19? According to health experts and World Health Organization (WHO) in its FAQs has mentioned that people should strain away from smoking during the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Since the lungs and respiratory tract in smokers are already compromised to various extents, they are more prone to be severely infected by SARS CoV-2, which primarily attacks the respiratory system in human beings, and in severe cases leads to symptoms such as difficulty in breathing.

Are smokers at higher risk from COVID-19?

“A new infection attacking the already compromised respiratory system is dangerous,” said Dr Harminder Singh Pannu, director, Internal Medicine, Fortis Hospital, Ludhiana. He suggested that now is the best time for smokers to quit or at least stop until pandemic isn’t controlled.

“They (occasional smokers) cannot get away saying that I smoke just one or two cigarettes a day or after a gap of certain days. The fact remains that you are exposing your respiratory system to something that is damaging it. Chain smokers are anyway psychologically dependent on smoking and consume one cigarette after the other. But the COVID-19 risk stands equally for both chain and occasional smokers.”

“Tobacco causes more damage to oral health whereas cigarettes damage your lungs,” he said.

Dr Vikas Loomba, professor, medicine, Christian Medical College and Hospital, Ludhiana, said, “Though COVID-19 is a new disease and the virus is still being studied… the fact remains that the family of coronaviruses attacks respiratory functioning in humans. Any person who has a history of, let’s say, 10 pack-years or even less is at risk.” (Pack-years is a measure derived from the number of packs smoked in a day.)

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