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Smoking, vaping could compound impact of coronavirus

  • Published at 06:40 am March 25th, 2020

If you are a smoker or a vaper, this is the time to quit

Experts have warned that people who smoke or vape are likely at increased risk from coronavirus than nonsmokers.  

“Because it attacks the lungs, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 could be an especially serious threat to those who smoke tobacco or marijuana or who vape,” wrote Dr. Nora Volkow, with The National Institute on Drug Abuse.

“There’s not very much data at this point on COVID-19 in smokers, but we do know from reports from China, smokers seem to be over-represented in groups of people who have severe or critical COVID-19,” said J. Taylor Hays, M.D. Director of the Nicotine Dependence center at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota and Professor of Medicine, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine.

A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in February looked at 1,099 patients in China with COVID-19.  Of 173 patients who had severe symptoms, 16.9% of them were current smokers and 5.2% had previously smoked. Among the patients with less-severe symptoms, 11.8% were current smokers and 1.3% former smokers, reports Forbes.

The study also showed that in a group of patients that either needed mechanical ventilation, admission to an intensive care unit, or died, 25.5% were current smokers, which was more than twice the rate of current smokers in a group of patients that did not have such severe consequences.

Anti-tobacco advocates have also urged people to quit smoking in the wake of the coronavirus epidemic, reports WSB-TV.

"The coronavirus is in fact a lung disease,” said Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids. “Anything that weakens your lungs or immune system puts you at greater risk. If you get it, it makes it more likely you will get it more severely and have a harder time getting through it. If you're a smoker or a vaper, this is the time to quit." 

Since originating in the Wuhan province of China last December, the coronavirus outbreak has infected more than 400,000 people and killed more than 18,000 people globally.

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