Man breaking a cigarette

Smoking or vaping is considered an underlying condition that heightens your risk for complications from COVID-19 (novel coronavirus).

At University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS), we are committed to helping you manage your health in this crisis and beyond.

How to Quit Smoking

Smoking and Coronavirus Risk

Smoking not only increases your risk for complications if you get the virus, it can also make you more likely to contract the disease in the first place.

Risk of Complications

The Centers for Disease Control categorizes smokers as "immunocompromised," which means having a weakened immune system. This puts smokers in the same group as those receiving cancer treatments or who have HIV. The CDC cautions that people who are immunocompromised are at risk to get more severe COVID-19 symptoms.

In addition, conditions that reduce your ability to use oxygen properly put you at a higher risk of developing serious lung conditions such as pneumonia.

While the evidence is clear that smoking compromises your ability to use oxygen and hinders your immune response, evidence is emerging that vaping too can harm your ability to fight infection in the lungs.

Smokers are also at greater risk for cardiovascular disease and COPD, which can further increase the risk of complications.

Risk of Contracting COVID

People who smoke and vape may also be at greater risk of contracting the disease because the act of smoking means you are touching your face more.

One virus prevention technique experts recommend is to avoid touching your face because the virus can enter the body when it is transferred from your hands to the membranes of the eyes, nose and mouth.

The World Health Organization warns that smoking products such as water pipes may involve the sharing of mouthpieces and hoses, which could spread COVID-19 in communal and social settings.

Reasons to Quit Smoking

Quitting smoking or vaping can help you:

  • Decrease opportunities for transmitting the disease by touching your face
  • Lower your chances of complications if you do get coronavirus
  • Boost your immune system
  • Save money, which may be more important now that the pandemic has caused widespread financial distress
  • Reduce your need to go into public spaces to purchase cigarettes, as many states, including Maryland, prohibit online orders
  • Reap long-term health benefits, including reducing your risk for lung disease, cancer and heart attack