Newfoundland and Labrador Smokers’ Helpline

COVID-19 & quitting smoking

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses which may cause illness in animals or humans.  In humans, several coronaviruses are known to cause respiratory infections ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The most recently discovered coronavirus causes the infectious disease COVID-19. This new virus and disease were unknown before the outbreak began in Wuhan, China, in December 2019.

World Health Organization

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 may have a negative impact on the immune system, which means that people who smoke may be more susceptible to viral and bacteria infections.
  • 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.

If an individual who smokes develops COVID-19, there is an increased risk that it will lead to more severe forms of the illness (for ex. admission to ICU, need for mechanical ventilation or death).
  • 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.

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: 

WEB APP

KickAsh.ca

TEXTS

Text 709-700-7002

EMAILS

shl@nf.lung.ca

ONLINE GROUP

smokershelp.net

For Healthcare Providers: Help your patients/clients make the connection to quit-smoking support.

"High quality smoking cessation advice should form part of public health efforts during epidemics of respiratory viruses such as COVID-19."

"It is likely that the current concern about the covid-19 epidemic provides a “teachable moment” in which smokers may be uniquely receptive to stop smoking advice."

British Medical Journal Mar. 20, 2020
Learn more about the Helpline’s Referral Program and start referring right away.  When you make a referral your patient/client’s information is submitted to the Helpline (through online, fax or email) and the individual will then receive a phone call from a Helpline quit coach to discuss the smoking cessation services that are available in the province. There’s no pressure to quit right away, instead the referral to the Helpline simply increases their awareness about their options.

Newfoundland and Labrador Smokers’ Helpline