While the reported cases of the COVID -19 continue to increase in certain countries, one of the top questions people ask is, “Are smokers more vulnerable to the disease?” There has been a lot of debate surrounding this topic with reports showing that smokers are more vulnerable to the disease, while other reports show that smokers are less likely to get coronavirus.
New research in France and Mexico suggest that nicotine could prevent smokers from catching the coronavirus. These studies suggest that nicotine can potentially block the virus from entering the cells, hence preventing the infection in the first place. However, further clinical trials are required to ascertain this theory. But the study also warned that “nicotine is a drug of abuse responsible for addiction.”
But what do world health experts say about COVID -19 and smoking? Are smokers more or less likely to contract the virus?
Smokers are more vulnerable to developing heart disease, which is the highest risk factor for the coronavirus death rate. According to the World Health Organization [WHO], those who smoke are more susceptible to getting coronavirus. Smokers could already be having lung disease or reduced lung capacity, which may greatly increase the risk of severe illness. Smokers have an increased risk of issues such as heart attacks, an underlying chronic lung disease, and stroke.
Smokers are also at a higher risk of infection because of the effect tobacco can have on angiotensin-converting enzyme II [ACE2]. Smokes produce 30-55% more ACE2 than their non-smoking counterparts. These genes expression are located in human cells, particularly in the respiratory system. COVID-19 needs to sit in this receptor to spread and duplicate, and since smoking can up-regulate this receptor, it creates more of these receptors for coronavirus to sit within. This could be precisely how smoking contributes to a higher risk of contracting the virus.
Furthermore, the World Health Organization suggests that the very act of smoking could also increase the possibility of the virus transmission. That’s because the act of smoking tobacco [cigarettes, heated tobacco products, waterpipes] involves contact of fingers with the lips, hence increasing the possibility of transmission of the virus from hand to mouth. Smoking waterpipes, also referred to as shisha, usually involves the sharing of mouthpieces and hoses, and this could facilitate the transmission of the coronavirus in communal and social settings.
Reduce your COVID-19 risks today by quitting smoking
The benefits of quitting smoking are just exceptional. Your body will start to recover and repair, and your lung will improve. Since quitting smoking tobacco is not that easy, you can alternate it with an e-cigarette. The e-cigarette can help you to quit smoking tobacco, and it also has minimal health risks compared to smoking tobacco.
There may be higher risks of severe consequences from COVID-19, but whether or not smokers are more or less likely to catch COVID-19 is still up for debate. But cutting back on your use of tobacco may certainly help.