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Covid-19 Primary Care Resources

Advice for smokers and vapers

Guidance and emerging evidence on risks of smoking, vaping and illness severity of Covid-19

This information is sourced from the WHONHS UK, Tobacco Induced Diseases, the Journal of Adolescent Health and Thorax:


A meta-analysis of 40 studies published in the Journal of Tobacco Induced Disease in February 2021 concluded:

  • Smoking is confirmed to be a risk factor for the negative progression of Covid-19, particularly on disease severity and death
  • Both current and former smokers have higher odds of disease severity than never smokers

The Journal of Adolescent Health highlights that smoking is an indicator for medical vulnerability for severe Covid related disease:

  • 32% young adults (aged 18-25 yrs) who smoke have pre-existing conditions (cardiac, diabetic, immunological conditions etc)  which increase susceptibility to severe Covid-19 illness
  • this compares to 16% of non-smoking young adults

A Thorax paper published January 2021 on data from UK users of the Zoe COVID-19 Symptom Study app concluded:

  • People who smoke are at an increased risk of developing symptomatic Covid-19

However PHE guidance currently states that:

To reduce the risk of infection with the Covid-19 virus PHE strongly advises against sharing cigarettes or any smoking devices

Vaping (e-cigarettes)

It is unknown what effect vaping may have on a persons risk of infection with Covid-19, or on how it may affect the severity of illness from Covid

  • However, vaping involves repetitive hand-to-face movements so hand washing is crucial and e-cigarettes should be cleaned regularly and vaping devices should not be shared
  • E-cigarettes can be an effective aid to stopping smoking. It is currently unknown what effect vaping may have on susceptibility to severe disease if someone is infected with Covid-19, although the risk is likely to be much less than the risk of smoking

Written by Dr Poppy Freeman

See also: Long term condition reviews