Why? There are many good reasons to quit smoking, but in the context of the current corona situation there is one more reason, because smokers automatically belong to the risk group. Not only are they more prone to fall ill through the coronavirus, but it is also highly likely that the course of the disease would be more severe, regardless of age.
It is undisputed that smoking in general promotes respiratory diseases and also weakens the immune system. A study1 published in 2019 showed that smokers suffering from seasonal influenza are more likely to be hospitalised than non-smokers and are also more likely to be transferred to intensive care.
In the case of coronavirus, it is known by now that in most cases the course of the disease is usually mild. However, in risk groups—the elderly, people with pre-existing conditions, smokers— the disease can become a deadly threat if it attacks the lungs and requires intensive medical treatment with ventilation. First Chinese surveys from February 2020 show that there were more smokers among corona patients with severe disease than among patients who were only mildly affected by the disease.2 Smoking damages, among other things, the cilia in the lungs, which are responsible for cleaning the lungs. In addition, many smokers have chronic inflammation of the respiratory tract. It is clear that under such conditions, the coronavirus also has an easy time of it.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has also pointed out that the act of smoking in itself is a risk factor for contracting the coronavirus3, because the fingers (and possibly already contaminated cigarettes) come into contact with the lips, facilitating hand-to-mouth transmission of the virus. This is all the more true for smoking water pipes (shishas), where several people often share a mouthpiece.
By the way, smoking e-cigarettes is not an alternative. Apart from the fact that here, too, virus transmission via the mouthpiece of the e-cigarette is possible, there is by now more than enough evidence that smoking e-cigarettes damages the lungs. Perhaps you remember the epidemic of severe lung disease in the USA last year? By February 2020, more than 2,800 people had to be hospitalized there, 68 (mostly young) people have died so far.4 All of them had the consumption of e-cigarettes in common.
The only alternative to smoking—to any kind of smoking—is not to smoke. Our body is recovering very quickly. Already 24 hours after smoking cessation the risk of heart attack begins to decrease, after two weeks the lung function starts to increase again. Therefore, the best time to stop smoking is right now. Maybe you feel that the timing is inconvenient because you find the current situation stressful and have the impression that smoking gives you some relaxation? On the other hand, many factors that would otherwise make stopping smoking more difficult have fallen away. Visiting restaurants, bars or parties is not possible for most people at the moment. Social contacts are very limited, a meal with friends or acquaintances, a coffee party, a beer in the pub after work—all of them occasions that often tempt people to smoke—are no longer possible. Since you are not allowed to or should not leave your house or apartment, it is more difficult to buy cigarettes. If you work at home, you are now exposed to much less stimuli and advertising that would otherwise encourage you to smoke. And you can, should the craving for nicotine haunt you, make sure that you do yourself some good within your own four walls.
Cook something healthy for yourself (for a while, avoid plants of the nightshade family such as potatoes, tomatoes, aubergines or peppers, as they are related to the tobacco plant), avoid alcohol, drink lots of water with some good rock or sea salt in it. Listen to good music, thoroughly air your home, wash the curtains. If you can, exercise regularly in fresh air and do breathing exercises to strengthen your lungs.
Should several people in your household smoke, help each other now to stop smoking once and for all. Be strong when the other person has a moment of weakness and help him or her get over it. He or she will surely be happy to return the favour if you are finding yourself in a low.
We wish you every success, stay healthy!