SARS-CoV-2 and smoking

Smoking is associated with COVID-19, by enabling the spreading of the virus and making the human organism more susceptible to the virus.

 

Use of tobacco and novel tobacco products increases:

  • hand – mouth contact by 200 times/day
  • hand contact with potentially infectious objects (cigarette packet, lighter, ash trays, vaping devices…)
  • makes the use of face mask problematic
  • impairs the respiratory system defence mechanisms
  • leads to frequent bronchial and lung infections (ex: influenza and common cold viruses)
  • increases micro-particulate environmental pollution and facilitates virus’ ability to travel longer

Increased SARS CoV-2 spreading from asymptomatic and pro-symptomatic smokers can be
due to:

  • chronic cough and expectoration (COPD)
  • environmental pollution by cigarette butts, ashtrays, passive smoking
  • frequent smoking at home due to quarantine, leading to increased passive exposure of non-smokers and children

A study by Yuying et al1. showed how smokers help the spread of SARS-CoV-2

A study by Gaiha et al.2 showed the association between smoking and COVID-19

WHO sums all the information on the graph below3

 

References

1 Sun, Yuying, Tai Hing Lam, Yee Tak Derek Cheung, Man Ping Wang, Yongda Wu, Jianjiu Chen, Xiaoyu Zhang, William H. C. Li, and Sai Yin Ho. 2021. “First Report on Smoking and Infection Control Behaviours at Outdoor Hotspots during the COVID-19 Pandemic: An Unobtrusive Observational Study”. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 18 (3): 1031.

2 Gaiha S.M., Halpern-Felsher B., and Cheng J. 2020. “Association Between Youth Smoking, Electronic Cigarette Use, and COVID-19”. Journal of Adolescent Health. 67 (4): 519-523.

3 https://www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/health-emergencies/coronavirus-covid-19/publications-and-technical-guidance/resources-for-tobacco-use-control-as-part-of-covid-19-response/infographic-coronavirus-covid-19-and-tobacco-use

 

By Anna Tzortzi, MD, Pulmonologist

Scientific Director “George D. Behrakis Research Lab”

Associate Director “Institute of Public Health, The American College of Greece”

 

and Melpo Kapetanstrataki, Biostatistics Consultant & Technical Support