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Smoking Nearly Doubles the Rate of COVID-19 Progression

New Analysis by UCSF Researchers Looked at Smokers, Former Smokers Diagnosed With Coronavirus

By Elizabeth Fernandez | UCSF.edu | May 12, 2020

Smoking Nearly Doubles the Rate of COVID-19 Progression

Smoking significantly worsens COVID-19, according to a new analysis by UC San Francisco of the association between smoking and progression of the infectious disease.

In a meta-analysis of studies that included 11,590 COVID patients, researchers found that among people with the virus, the risk of disease progression in those who currently smoke or previously smoked was nearly double that of non-smokers. They also found that when the disease worsens, current or former smokers had more acute or critical conditions or death. Overall, smoking was associated with almost a doubling of the risk of disease progressing.

The report was published May 12, 2020, in Nicotine & Tobacco Research.  

“Smoking is associated with substantially higher risk of COVID-19 progression,” said Stanton A. Glantz, PhD, professor of medicine and director of the UCSF Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education. “This finding suggests that California’s ongoing strong tobacco control measures that have lowered smoking may, together with the state’s other strong public health interventions, be contributing to California’s efforts to thwart the effect of COVID-19.”

Smoking and e-cigarette use increase the risk and severity of pulmonary infections because of damage to upper airways and a decrease in pulmonary immune function in general, although these effects have not yet been studied for SARS-COV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Smokers have a known higher risk of infection and mortality from MERS-COV, a viral respiratory illness caused by a different coronavirus.

 

Read more at UCSF.edu