One side effect of COVID-19: People quitting smoking in record numbers

An interesting story out of the UK: A study done by the University College London showed that more people in the UK quit in 2020 than at any time since 2007. That’s credited to concerns about smokers being more vulnerable to complications from the COVID-19 virus.

From a BBC article:

A team at University College London has been asking 1,000 people a month in England about their smoking habits since 2007 as part of the Smoking Toolkit Study.

In the year to June 2020, 7.6% of smokers taking part in the survey quit – almost a third higher than the average and the highest proportion since the survey began more than a decade ago.

On average, 5.9% of surveyed smokers quit per year since 2007.

Data isn’t complete and plenty of studies are going to be done on the connection between smoking and COVID-19 mortality. However, a lot of signs sure point to smokers doing worse responding to COVID-19 than nonsmokers.

From the BBC article:

Data from the Zoe Covid Symptom Tracker app suggested smokers were 14% more likely than non-smokers to develop the three “classic” symptoms of coronavirus infection – fever, persistent cough and shortness of breath.

The app, created by researchers at Guy’s and St Thomas’ hospitals and King’s College London, analysed data from more than 2.4 million UK participants.

Their analysis found smokers with a positive Covid-19 test were more than twice as likely as non-smokers with coronavirus to be hospitalised.

This aligns with research from the US which found hospitalised smokers with coronavirus were 1.8 times more likely to die.

And:

Public Health England’s guidance states: “There is strong evidence that smoking tobacco is generally associated with an increased risk of developing respiratory viral infections.

“Smoking causes damage to the lungs and airways and harms the immune system, reducing your ability to fight infection.”

That’s certainly true for me, as I had near-constant respiratory infections every winter from secondhand  smoke beginning when I was a kid and lasting well into my late 20s.

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