HSE calls on smokers to quit to reduce the risk of Covid-19
"Even at this early stage, available evidence points to smoking as a key factor leading to increased severity of disease and death in hospitalised Covid-19 patients."
The HSE has called on people who smoke to take the 28-day no smoking challenge this October and reduce their risk of Covid-19.
Research shows that smoking is a risk factor for coronavirus infection.
Studies also show that smoking increases your risk of acute respiratory infections like flu meaning that coronavirus infections may be more severe in people who smoke.
Dr Paul Kavanagh, HSE Public Health Medicine Specialist, said: “Smoking increases your risk of acute respiratory infections like COVID-19 in a number of ways. Smoking with other people, sharing cigarettes and touching your face and mouth help spread infections.
"Cigarette smoke damages the natural barriers in your airways and lungs to infections, dampens down your immunity and affects your breathing and circulation in a way that makes you vulnerable to severe illness and complications of infection.
"Covid-19 is a new disease and we are learning a lot about its effects. Even at this early stage, available evidence points to smoking as a key factor leading to increased severity of disease and death in hospitalised Covid-19 patients.
"This is in addition to the already well-established and significant health risks of smoking."
He added: "So in addition to doing all the things we know protect us from coronavirus - washing our hands properly, covering coughs and sneezes, practicing social distancing, wearing a mask and not touching our face, stopping smoking can also help protect you from coronavirus.”
The HSE has revealed that demand for online help to quit has increased this year throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
There are a number of ways in which people can get help from the HSE to quit smoking from including:
- A free Quit Kit to help you prepare.
- Messages or phone calls from the Quitline.
- Advice on Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) and stop smoking medication.
- An online-personalised Quit plan where you can track your progress.
- One to one support from a Stop Smoking Advisor.
- Daily tips and support from people who have quit and are trying to quit on the You Can Quit Facebook page.