Smoking and Covid-19

Smoking and Covid-19

In this article we’ll look at the link between smoking and Covid-19, as well as some top tips to quit for good.

Quit Smoking Now to Protect your Health

This article has been medically approved by Superintendent Pharmacist Shilpa Shailen Karia, MRPharmS. - GPhC Reg No: 2087328

With Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) reporting that more than a million people have quit smoking since Covid-19 hit Britain, now is the perfect time to kick your habit for good. Read our article below for more on the benefits of quitting smoking, as well as some tips to get you started.

Smoking and Covid-19

More research still needs to be done, but published data indicates that smokers could be up to 1.4 times more likely to suffer a severe reaction to Covid-19 than non-smokers. The same data also suggests smokers are 2.4 times more likely to be admitted to intensive care, need a ventilator, or die. [1] Matt Hancock, UK Health Secretary, has said “it is abundantly clear that smoking makes the impact of a coronavirus worse.” [2]

UK health experts are urging smokers to #QuitforCovid, which will help to reduce the national impact of the virus. It has never been more important for smokers to quit: to improve their health and wellbeing and help them stay out of hospital; to potentially reduce the risk of poor outcomes following hospital treatment for Covid-19; and to protect others from second-hand smoke exposure in the home.

How can I stop smoking?

It can be hard to change a long-term habit, so consider getting some support. You’re around 3 times more likely to successfully stop smoking if you use a combination of stop smoking treatment and specialist help. [3]

When you’re ready to stop smoking, have a plan:

  • Pick a date to stop smoking and tell your friends and family. You could plan something fun to take your mind off it.
  • Ask your friends and family for support. Do you know anyone who is thinking of stopping? How about you quit together!
  • Git rid of everything at home and at work that reminds you of smoking.
  • Call yourself a non-smoker and try to reframe your mindset to think of yourself as one.
  • Think about the symptoms of withdrawal you might experience and how you will cope with them.

Stop smoking treatments

There are three main treatments that may be considered to help you to stop smoking: nicotine replacement therapy, stop smoking medications, and e-cigarettes.

Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT)

Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) helps you to overcome the urge to smoke. These therapies release nicotine into your bloodstream and include patches, gum, sprays, lozenges, and inhalers. Patches release nicotine slowly, whereas other therapies may act more quickly.

Some people find that combining 2 sorts of NRT works best for them. For example, wearing a patch for a constant, low level of nicotine and using a faster-acting product like gum, inhalers or nasal sprays to reduce cravings. Therapy usually lasts 8-12 weeks before you gradually reduce the dose and stop.

Stop smoking medications

Your GP may suggest using medication to help you to stop smoking. There are 2 main medications used for this: varenicline (Champix) and buproprion (Zyban).

E-Cigarattes and Vaping

Some people find e-cigarettes to be more effective than NRT products, however, they may still carry risk over long-term use. You can find e-cigarettes and e-liquids on your own, and in many vaping shops they will be able to offer advice.

If you can, it’s a good idea to stop vaping as well. This is especially important if you have a lung condition.