COVID-19 and Smoking

ShieldThe CDC has warned that people who smoke are at higher risk for COVID-19 infections1. Some research has also shown that people who smoke and develop COVID-19 infections are at greater risk of serious complications, including death.6

Lung Disease. Scientists examined 61 studies among patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), also known as emphysema. These reports showed that individuals with COPD who developed COVID-19 are at increased risk for severe illness including death.5

More than 80% of COPD is directly caused by smoking cigarettes. The Surgeon General has also documented that smoking weakens and inflames the lungs.3  Smoking puts people at risk of many respiratory-track infections.2, 3

If you smoke, the best way to protect your lungs is to quit. Quitting reduces the risk of lung infections, including pneumonia and bronchitis. It may also reduce the risk of developing COVID-19 and developing more severe complications from COVID-19.1, 6


  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Preliminary Estimates of the Prevalence of Selected Underlying Health Conditions Among Patients with Coronavirus Disease 2019 — United States, February 12–March 28, 2020. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2020;69:382–386.
  2. Strzelak, Agnieszka et al. Tobacco Smoke Induces and Alters Immune Responses in the Lung Triggering Inflammation, Allergy, Asthma and Other Lung Diseases: A Mechanistic Review. International journal of environmental research and public health vol. 15,5 1033. 21 May. 2018.
  3. U.S.Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Smoking: 50 Years of Progress. A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, CDC, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2014. Printed with corrections, January 2014. Accessed April 3, 2020.
  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. People at Risk for Serious Illness from COVID-19. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 10 Mar. 2020. Accessed April 3, 2020.
  5. Alqahtani, Oyelade, et al. Prevalence, Severity and Mortality associated with COPD and Smoking in patients with COVID-19: A Rapid Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. PLOS One. May 11, 2020.
  6. World Health Organization. COVID-19 and Smoking Scientific Brief. June 30, 2020.

Some content courtesy of the Florida Department of Health.