New studies suggest that smokers are more likely to become seriously ill with COVID-19 infection, to need ICU admission, and to die than non-smokers. While this is based on early data, it fits with previous research showing worse outcomes among smokers for both the flu and the previous MERS-CoV outbreak. And we know that smoking damages the lungs, so this makes sense.
To the ears of a smoker who is already struggling with the stress of the COVID-19 pandemic, this may sound like just piling bad news onto bad news. Many smokers feel that tobacco helps their stress and may be smoking more than ever in these anxiety-filled times.
But this news also offers an opportunity. If the studies are right and smokers have about twice the risk of ICU admission and death of non-smokers, then quitting smoking now very likely offers a way to lower risk that is hard, but achievable. And wouldn’t it be great to come out of this incredibly difficult time with something positive in your life?
So with that goal in mind, here are some resources and ideas that you can use to help you quit:
- Check out SmokeFreePhilly.org, which offers tools, motivation, and success stories.
- For cessation counseling by phone, nicotine replacement therapy and more, call the PA Free Quitline 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800 784-8669).
- For online support in quitting including text messages, emails, nicotine replacement therapy and more, go to PA QuitLogix.
- Quit with a friend – call and text each other for support reaching your goal. It’s easier with friends and family to help. Even though you can’t meet in person, you can still connect.
- Get the tobacco products out of your house – get rid of temptation and make it harder for yourself to give up.
- If you give in to a craving and smoke, try again. Don’t give up on yourself. This is too important.
- Go for a walk. Smell the flowers. Remember that without tobacco, you’ll breathe easier (often after just two days). And you’ll know you’ve helped protect yourself and your family from COVID-19 AND started building a healthier future.