Smoking, COVID-19 can expand illnesses, infection rate
December 1, 2020
It's common knowledge that smoking is bad for your health. And, when it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic, the side effects of smoking and the behaviors of people who smoke or vape could create a one-two punch.
Smoking injures the local defenses in the lungs by increasing mucus production and inflammation. And that's why people who smoke are more likely to have serious respiratory infections and illnesses, such as influenza and pneumonia, according to Dr. J. Taylor Hays, director of Mayo Clinic's Nicotine Dependence Center.
"And we know from the previous coronavirus outbreaks, especially the MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome) outbreak, that smokers were more susceptible to infection and more likely to get more serious infection," says Dr. Hays. "I think the reasonable assumption is that because of those injuries to local defenses and the information we have from other respiratory infections, people who smoke will be at more risk for more serious COVID-19 infection and more likely to get even critical disease and have to be hospitalized."