Answer Bank: Are smokers more vulnerable to COVID-19?
By Guo Meiping
02:58

Are you a smoker? If you are, you might be at higher risk for COVID-19.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), smokers are likely to be more vulnerable to the coronavirus caused disease due to two main reasons:

1. Smokers may already have lung disease or reduced lung capacity, which increases the risk of COVID-19 and its severity.

2. The act of smoking means fingers are in contact with lips and faces, which increases the possibility of viral transmission from hand to mouth.

Since tobacco can make people vulnerable to COVID-19, you may think of switching to alternatives such as e-cigarette and water pipes during the pandemic. However, this is still not a good idea, because like a regular cigarette, e-cigarettes can still cause lung injuries.

The use of e-cigarettes can cause lung injuries as well. /VCG

The use of e-cigarettes can cause lung injuries as well. /VCG

Moreover, smoking products such as water pipes often involve the sharing of mouthpieces and hoses, which could facilitate the transmission of the virus.

For non-smokers, second-hand smoke is something you should be aware of. 

Currently, the main transmission routes of novel coronavirus are through respiratory droplets and close contact with patients. Therefore, the smoke of cigarettes does not transmit the virus. But being able to breathe the smoke means you are pretty close to the smoker.

But people breathing in second-hand smoke are at greater risk as well, given that being exposed to second-hand smoke could increase the risk of lower respiratory tract infections, asthma and other debilitating health conditions and weaken the immune system and limit the body's natural defense against the virus.

Being exposed to second-hand smoke could increase the risk of lower respiratory tract infections, asthma, and other debilitating health conditions. /CGTN

Being exposed to second-hand smoke could increase the risk of lower respiratory tract infections, asthma, and other debilitating health conditions. /CGTN

For smokers and vapers, here are some things you can do to protect yourself.

Multiple health organizations, including the WHO, suggest smokers to quit during this special period to reduce their risks of COVID-19.

But if quitting immediately seems like too big of a task, you can start from cutting down and taking protection measures like regularly sanitizing your e-cigarettes with alcohol wipes, and avoiding touching your lips and face when you smoke.

You can also protect people around you by avoiding generating large clouds, and keeping at least two meters of distance when smoking in public places.

Evidence from other outbreaks caused by viruses from the same family as COVID-19 suggests that smoking could, directly or indirectly, contribute to an increased risk of infection.

So, now might be the best time for you to rethink your smoking habit.

(Video filmed by Fu Gaoliang; cover image designed by Yin Yating)