Newfoundland and Labrador Smokers’ Helpline
COVID-19 & quitting smoking
Protect your lung health - Get help to quit smoking
Is there a link between smoking or vaping & risk of developing COVID-19?
New research and information is coming out daily about COVID-19. At the Smokers’ Helpline, we’ll do our best to keep this page updated on new evidence coming out about the benefits of living smokefree at this time.
Here are some key messages based on the most recent research and articles (click here for List of References, Articles & Studies):
- Smoking destroys the cilia that line the respiratory tract. Cilia are tiny hair-like structures that line our airways and move in a rhythmic motion to help keep the airways free of dust and dirt, helping to filter out potentially harmful particles.
- Smoking triggers cells to make more mucous and the mucous doesn’t clear the lungs as well which makes it more vulnerable to becoming infected.
- Smoking also triggers inflammation in the lungs.
People who smoke tobacco (including e-cigarettes) are generally at a higher risk of developing an infection in their respiratory tract (such as lung or chest infections). There is not yet enough evidence to know whether smokers are at a higher risk of becoming infected with coronavirus specifically.
- Smoking damages the lungs, reduces lung capacity and causes COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), which leads to obstructed airways and difficulty breathing.
- In addition to COPD, smoking causes other chronic illnesses including heart disease and cancer, which put individuals at at higher risk of complications from COVID-19.
- Researchers conclude that “smoking is most likely associated with the negative progression and adverse outcomes of COVID-19”.
The act of smoking may lead to increased risks of transmitting the virus and becoming infected–as smoking involves frequently putting your hand and fingers near face/mouth/lips.
There are many benefits of quitting smoking, and it is more important now more than ever.
- Quitting reduces rates of lung infections.
- Quitting also improves lung function and reduces the risk of developing more severe forms of COVID-19.
- Learn more about the Health Benefits of Quitting Smoking and More Benefits of Living Smokefree.
- Quitting smoking will also help give you a greater sense of control, and will help you save money.
The World Health Organization highlights the importance of quitting smoking at this time, and recommends the use of quitlines as an effective support to help people overcome tobacco addiction! Read more.
For help with quitting, connect with the quitline based in this province by calling the phone number on your cigarette pack. Or sign up for an online program today:
The Smoker’s Helpline is here for you! We offer free information and support via phone, text, email, chat, and our wed-based app, Kickash (www.kickash.ca). Call 1 800 363 5864 or browse all available programs at https://smokershelp.net/quit/
Move your body. Find time for some exercise during the day. Consider walking, yoga, stretches, Tai Chi or any other activity that you enjoy. Get outside to enjoy some fresh air and/or avail of the many online offerings for virtual classes.
Breathe deeply. Deep breathing can relax your mind and body. Practice the following technique for five to ten minutes twice daily: place one hand on your chest and one on your stomach. Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose and let your stomach expand. Purse your lips together and exhale slowly through your mouth. You can use the hand on your stomach to push gently on your abdomen during exhalation.
Journal. Writing about your quit journey can help soothe your emotions and track your nicotine usage. Documenting when you smoke, your mood at the time, and what you were doing can help you identify your patterns and then plan strategies to reduce or quit.
Watch videos. Find inspiring or distracting videos to help deal with cravings. www.kickash.ca features brief distraction videos.
Move the money you would normally spend on smoking, vaping, and non-essential items into a savings account. Reward yourself with the savings!
Contact your financial institution to discuss your options regarding loan forgiveness, deferrals or repayment.
Consult https://www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/economic-response-plan.html to see what services/benefits you may be eligible for.
Connect online. Seek out groups/communities that share your interests (ex: cooking, hiking, crafting, reading). Host a virtual trivia night, dinner party or birthday celebration. Be creative!
For Healthcare Providers: Help your patients/clients make the connection to quit-smoking support.
Tobacco smoking is a known risk factor for many respiratory infections & ↗️ the severity of respiratory diseases, including #COVID19.— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) May 11, 2020
Smokers should take immediate steps to quit by using:
📞toll-free quit lines
📲mobile text-messaging programmes
✅nicotine replacement therapies pic.twitter.com/n5BSqIfbIs