Recent studies have found that there is a correlation between smokers and a more severe manifestation of the coronavirus. Smoking, both active and passive, has long been known to cause serious health damage and promote respiratory infections.  

We have discussed this with Dr. Licia Siracusano, coordinator of the Humanitas Anti-Smoking Centre.

Smokers are up to 3 times more at risk than non-smokers

Recent studies conducted in China have indicated a significant increase in the risk (by at least 3 times) of developing severe COVID-19 pneumonia in smokers or ex-smokers compared to non-smokers. In fact, at the time of admission, one-third of coronavirus positive smokers had a more severe clinical situation and increased the risk of needing intensive care and mechanical ventilation.

A figure that could also explain why COVID-19 seems to affect men (4.7%) more than women (2.8%). In China, in fact, the percentage of men smoking is much higher than that of women smokers.  

The need to stop smoking, as soon as possible, is therefore even more urgent. 

The expert’s advice for those who are quitting smoking

Even in such a delicate time as this, it is important that all those who have started a path of dissuading themselves from smoking resist the temptation to start again. 

We recommend that you continue to follow the indications and any ongoing therapy, without forgetting to consult your doctor periodically, by phone or email, especially in times of greatest difficulty.

The benefits for the body when you stop smoking

Quitting smoking brings both short and long term benefits. For example, after a few weeks coughs, respiratory problems, and gaseous exchange in the circulation improve.  Just twenty minutes after the last cigarette, the heart rate drops, tending to normalize. After 12 hours the levels of carbon monoxide decrease, while oxygen in the blood increases, and already after 2-3 days taste, smell and lung capacity are restored.

Smokers in Italy: the numbers

In Italy there are 11.6 million smokers, about 22% of the population over 15 years of age. Men are over 7 million and women 4.5 million. Among students aged between 14 and 17 years old, 11.1% usually smoke and 13.4% smoke occasionally.