Keenan Blog

COVID-19: A Reason to Quit Smoking and Vaping

May 28, 2020

The most vulnerable population to suffer severe illness, serious complications or death due to coronavirus infection (COVID-19) include individuals with underlying health conditions like asthma, diabetes, heart disease and compromised immunity. Smoking and vaping can exacerbate these health concerns as well as irritate the respiratory system even if you don’t have such conditions. Smoking and vaping may place you at greater risk for severe illness if you do contract it.

Since smokers and vapers put their hands frequently to their faces, there is greater potential to transfer the virus from their hand to their mouths and noses. As for everyone else, washing your hands properly is critical to reduce your risk. But inhaling theses substances has been shown to suppress defenses against infectious pathogens. Microscopic structures designed to keep the airways clear of debris are damaged by smoking and vaping, making them less capable of protecting you from the diseases they cause. Smoking and vaping also reduce lung function, which can be a real concern if you get sick. You can be much more susceptible to pneumonia, have less ability to clear fluid from your lungs, and can become unable to get enough oxygen to supply all the organs of your body.

If you don’t smoke or vape now, don’t start. If you do indulge in these habits, the current pandemic could be an excellent reason to make this the time to quit. There is no doubt that this is a time of stress and anxiety, and that the changes to our lives and livelihoods are uncomfortable. It’s important to find ways to cope with these feelings, but smoking and vaping are really not ideal avenues for dealing with the situation!

Consider the circumstances you are living in right now. You may be home 24/7, along with your significant other, roommates, and the children are out of school. You don’t want to expose any of them to your second-hand smoke, which could become detrimental to their health, too. Exhaled vapor from e-cigarettes, while mostly water, still contains many of the harmful chemicals contained in tobacco smoke. If you won’t quit for yourself, do it for those you care about who are around you all day, every day.

COVID-19 has caused a great financial impact on many people, from unemployment, reduced hours and the economic slowdown in our communities. One way to cut back on expenses is to stop smoking or vaping. You could save hundreds of dollars a month by not purchasing these supplies. If you have health insurance, many health plans have smoking cessation programs to help you. If you don’t have benefits, products to help you quit, like lozenges, patches or gum, are often available for free or at a reduced cost through your state or local health department.

In this time of COVID-19 and safer-at-home policies, there are no good reasons to keep smoking or vaping and lots of good reasons to stop today. That cigarette or e-cig right now may help you feel better for a few minutes, but it really changes nothing to improve your situation. Take the lead from all those who are accomplishing projects to make positive impacts to their lives during this time. Commit to stop smoking or vaping and make a real difference for your health.


“Coronavirus and smoking,” WebMD, April 27,2020;

Fernandez, E., “Smoking nearly doubles the rate of COVID-19 progression,” University of California San Francisco News, May 12, 2020:

Glantz, S., “Reduce your risk of serious lung disease caused by corona virus by quitting smoking and vaping,” University of California San Francisco – Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, May 13, 2020;

Kingsland, J. “People who smoke may have more receptors for the new coronavirus”, Medical News Today, May 26, 2020; accessed online

Van Zyl-Smit, R., et al, “Tobacco smoking and COVID-19 infection,” The Lancet, May 25, 2020;

About Robin Rager
Robin Rager, Ph.D., is Vice President of Health Management at Keenan. Robin has been involved in the health and wellness field for over three decades, as a consultant and researcher. His professional activities have focused on individual and population health management, and the design and evaluation of effective health and wellness programs in a variety of populations and settings.