June 15, 2020

Vaping and smoking likely increase susceptibility to and severity of COVID-19

Madison, Wis. — Early evidence from the pandemic suggests that people who use traditional or electronic cigarettes not only increase their likelihood of catching the coronavirus, but also put themselves at higher risk of experiencing more severe forms of COVID-19.

While few research studies have investigated the connection between smoking, vaping and COVID-19, cigarette smoke and vaping aerosol are known to cause lung inflammation and lowered immune function – which are both associated with more severe cases of COVID-19.

Physicians at UW Health are urging people who currently vape or smoke to seek help in quitting. Anyone who is considering starting should understand the potential consequences of doing so.

“We know that smoking traditional or electronic cigarettes causes significant damage to the lungs, and there is reason to worry that people who smoke or vape will experience much worse outcomes should they be infected with the coronavirus,” says Dr. Brian Williams, UW Health hospitalist and researcher at UW Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention (CTRI). “We are constantly learning new things about how this virus is attacking the lungs and given what we already know about the toxicity of nicotine and flavored vaping liquids, there is no better time to quit.”

That said, people often use smoking and vaping as a form of stress relief, and Williams and other physicians understand that quitting this habit during a pandemic can seem daunting for some. However, there are a number of good resources available for people who need help in quitting.

Video: Dr. Brian Williams

Dr. Brian Williams talks about how individuals who smoke or vape are at a greater risk of experiencing worse outcomes if they become infected with the coronavirus.

Vaping and Smoking Likely Increase Susceptibility to and Severity of COVID-19