Smoking and COVID risk
The Chief Medical Officer and Health Secretary have both highlighted that smokers are at increased risk from COVID-19. Smoking harms the immune system, reducing the bodies’ natural protection against infections, like coronavirus. Smokers are therefore at greater risk of:
- getting acute respiratory infections
- the infection lasting longer
- the infection being more serious than it would be for someone who does not smoke
It is therefore, a very important time to be talking to smokers about their smoking and encouraging them to try to quit or switch to alternative products.
People, including children, exposed to secondhand smoke are also at increased risk. It is therefore essential that parents or carers are advised not to smoke in the home and are provided with behavioural support and access to alternative nicotine products or medication to support this.
Stop smoking services
The NCSCT is recommending ceasing all face-to-face stop smoking service appointments and providing behavioural advice and support via telephone or remote systems. This includes suspending the use of CO monitors and recording self-report quit status. The NCSCT is looking to develop resources to support this. You can view their guidance here.
There has been some suggestion in the media that e-cigarette use could increase risks from COVID-19. There is no clear evidence for this suggestion, and while we know smoking is a definite risk factor, we would continue to encourage smokers to think about switching to e-cigarettes to reduce their risk of respiratory infections.