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Coronavirus (COVID-19) advice for people who smoke

Restrictions are starting to ease, but you must still remember: Hands. Face. Space. Fresh air. Check the current rules.

Smoking and coronavirus

Smoking causes damage to the lungs and weakens a person’s immune system. This makes it more likely that if a person falls sick they can have complications and take longer to recover. The evidence clearly shows COVID-19 virus attacks the respiratory system, which explains why smokers are at greater risk.

It doesn’t matter what kind of smoking a person does – cigarettes, shisha, cannabis, or any other substances will also increase a person’s risks.

Secondhand smoke in the home and in other enclosed spaces also increase the risk. This is particularly so for children and those with existing health conditions, so smokers should take every effort to protect them from exposure by going smoke free.

Smokers who are self-isolating and are not able to go outside to smoke should seek alternatives such as Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) or e-cigarettes to protect the people around them from harm. Our specialist service can offer telephone support and medication to help you stay smokefree. You can refer yourself to the South Tees Stop Smoking Service by filling in an online form.

Fresh has produced two videos explaining the risks related to smoking and COVID-19 and encouraging smokers to quit:

Secretary of State for Health Matt Hancock said:
“It is abundantly clear from the research into previous coronaviruses that smoking makes the impact of a coronavirus worse.”

This echoes the advice of the Chief Medical Officer Prof Chris Whitty to the Health Select Committee who said:
“If you are going to give up smoking, this is a very good moment to do it.”

Advice for smokers

Quitting smoking is an important way for individuals to reduce their risk from coronavirus (COVID-19).

Smoking increases the risk of lung infections. Smokers are twice as likely to get pneumonia and five times more likely to get flu than non-smokers.

Quitting smoking rapidly reduces your risk of other health problems such as heart attack and stroke. It is especially important to prevent these problems, at a time like now, when health systems are going to come under strain.

eCigarettes and coronavirus

There has been some suggestion in the media that eCigarette use could increase risks from COVID-19. There is no clear evidence for this suggestion, and while we know smoking is a definite risk factor, we would continue to encourage smokers to think about switching to eCigarettes to reduce their risk of respiratory infections. We are expecting further guidance on COVID-19 and smoking from Public Health soon and will share any updates as soon as they become available.

South Tees Stop Smoking Service

South Tees Stop Smoking Service is continuing to run in Middlesbrough, but some changes have been made due to coronavirus.

Ongoing clients

Ongoing clients will continue to receive support via phone consultation and prescription at predefined collection points.

New clients

There will be a temporary pause in giving appointments to new clients, with exception of pregnant women who will receive a phone consultation from the specialist team.

The service can still accept referrals for new clients, but at this stage they cannot offer any new appointments. They will review the situation situation and provide an update as soon as possible.

To contact the Stop Smoking Service, please call 01642 727655 or 01642 727579, or visit the Stop Smoking South Tees website for more information.