There’s no reason anyone should be smoking cigarettes nowadays. But in case you needed yet another reason to kick the habit, let’s talk about the latest: Smoking is linked with a higher risk of COVID-19 symptoms and hospitalization.
Now, this may be the least shocking “news” I’ve ever read. But I have to say, I’ve been waiting for this study to come along. Not because I have that many patients who smoke. (Fortunately, I don’t.)
But because of how it makes me feel when people continuously pull down their masks to smoke a cigarette in public. Because let’s be clear: If you can smell their cigarette smoke, it’s possible you could catch COVID-19 from that person, too.
Smoking increases your risk of COVID-19
U.K. researchers recently analyzed data from an app called the ZOE COVID Symptom Study App. Of the app’s users, 11 percent were smokers. (Notably, this is a lower cross-section than the total smoking population in the U.K., which hovers just below 15 percent.)
The study period lasted between late March and April of 2020. And during that time, more than one-third of participants reported feeling physically unwell. Smokers, however, were 14 percent more likely to experience three classic symptoms of COVID-19—fever, persistent cough, and shortness of breath.
Not only that, but smokers were also more likely to have a greater number of symptoms. They were nearly 30 percent more likely to have more than five COVID-19 symptoms and 50 percent more likely to suffer more than ten symptoms—like a loss of taste, smell, and appetite, diarrhea, confusion, muscle pain, and fatigue.
And needless to say, a greater number of COVID-19 symptoms generally points to a more severe case. In fact, researchers found that smokers were twice as likely to require hospitalization for the virus than non-smokers.
In other words, smokers are at higher risk of both contracting COVID-19 and suffering from a more serious case. (Which, as nice as it is to have solid science on the subject, I think we can all agree is just plain common sense.)
Stop smoking once and for all
As of this writing, rates of COVID-19 remain high. And in the weeks after the holidays, especially, some hospitals—entire cities, even—were running out of capacity for new patients.
So even as vaccination efforts continue to roll out, you still need to remain vigilant and do your part. And one noble thing you can do for your fellow Americans—in addition to wearing a mask and maintaining social distance—is to stop smoking.
And truthfully… as a population, we need to stop being selfish altogether. Because I’m not just calling out smokers, here—but all populations with an elevated risk.
Diabetics also need to keep their blood sugar under better control. And people need to get serious about losing weight, too. Because by addressing the very factors that put you at higher risk, you lessen your chances of both contracting COVID-19 and of ending up critically ill if you do become infected.
What we, as healthcare professionals, need YOU to understand is that this pandemic will continue to put all of our lives on the line—essential worker or not—if we do not change our behaviors.
Yes, vaccinations are underway and, so far—when administered properly in two doses, they can help prevent 95 percent of COVID-19 illnesses. But countless lives will continue to be taken or ruined because of people’s inability to deny themselves short-term gratification.
So the next time you get “bored” and reach for that cigarette… or piece of cake… or soft drink… remember the very real danger you’re putting yourself (and fellow citizens) in.
P.S. Before you put down that cigarette and pick up a vape pen instead, remember this: Published literature to date shows a long list of disturbing lung injuries associated with electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS)—e-cigarettes, vaporizers, or vape pens—all visible on CT scans. You can learn more about the dangers of both cigarettes and vape pens in the February 2020 issue of my monthly newsletter, Logical Health Alternatives (“Put down that cigarette and vape pen once and for all!”). Not yet a subscriber? Click here to become one today!
“Smoking associated with increased risk of COVID-19 symptoms.” Science Daily, 01/06/2021. (sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/01/210106095322.htm)