COVID-19 and smoking: resources, research and news


To provide information to health professionals and the general public, this page provides resources, research and news reports about COVID19 and smoking, vaping and other tobacco products. This page will be updated regularly as additional resources are published.

(Last updated 30 March 2020)

Tobacco Control & BMJ publications

  • Smokeless tobacco use and the COVID-19 pandemic The use of tobacco products is of particular concern during the COVID-19 pandemic. Head and neck surgeons Dr Arjun  Singh and Dr Pankaj Chaturvedi argue that smokeless tobacco use requires attention to help stop the spread of the disease. Open access, click here (Added 30 March 2020)
  • Covid-19 and smoking: the elephant in the room? The role of smoking in the contraction, transmission and mortality rate of Covid-19 should be given research attention, and countries should allocate resources to health stimulus packages, scientific research, and actions to further reduce smoking rates. Open access, click here to access full text.
  • Waterpipe Tobacco Smoking: A Potential Conduit of COVID-19? Waterpipe tobacco smoking needs to discouraged by all means, both for improving general health and reducing susceptibility to COVID-19. Where waterpipe use does continue, sharing needs to be prevented wherever possible, and guidelines for sanitation of reusable waterpipe components need to be developed and enforced to prevent the spread of infectious diseases such as COVID-19 through these venues. Open access, click here to access full text.
  • Covid-19: The role of smoking cessation during respiratory virus epidemics In addition to the health benefits of stopping smoking, it is plausible that a spike in quit rates could help reduce community transmission of SARS-CoV-2. During viral epidemics, evidence suggests that multipronged approaches involving both pharmacological and behavioural interventions (e.g. travel restrictions, school closures, vaccination) are best able to bring the reproductive number below 1. We hence believe that high quality smoking cessation advice should form part of public health efforts during epidemics of respiratory viruses such as covid-19. Open access, click here to access full text.
  • Risky smoking practices and the coronavirus: A deadly mix for our most vulnerable smokers Now would be a good opportunity for the third sector and other organisations which serve the most vulnerable to shine a light on the impact smoking is having on their lives beyond the risks associated with tobacco related disease. Providing regular support to smokers now to reduce and eradicate risky smoking practices will reduce the burden of the virus in real time and minimise the impact of health inequalities. Open access, click here to access full text.
  • Can we improve the NHS’s ability to tackle covid-19 through emergency public health interventions? Tobacco smoking is responsible for nearly half a million hospital admissions per year, representing 22% of all admissions for respiratory diseases. If the UK accelerated its considerable current commitment to tobacco control plans, it may well yield quick results. After all, in the aftermath of Scotland’s introduction of legislation outlawing smoking in enclosed public places, we saw a rapid 20% drop in hospital admissions for acute coronary syndrome in men over 55 years and women over 65 years. Open access, link here.
  • BMJ has a resource centre which brings together coverage of the coronavirus outbreak from across the BMJ’s journals and learning resources. Note this page brings together general coronavirus/COVID-19 coverage, not just smoking related. All open access. Click here to access the page.

World Health Organization (WHO) resources

  • Q&A on smoking and COVID-19 click here
  • Information note on COVID-19 and non-communicable diseases (includes information about smoking). Click here
  • Eastern Mediterranean Regional Office Tobacco and waterpipe use increases the risk of suffering from COVID-19: Click here
  • FCTC Knowledge Hub for Waterpipe Tobacco Smoking Increased risk of COVID-19 infection amongs smoker and amongst waterpipe users Click here

Quit smoking support, COVID-19 information for smokers

  • Quitline Victoria (Australia): FAQs – Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Smoking. Click here.
  • UK #QuitforCovid campaign. Click here
  • ASH UK press release. Health Secretary: “It is abundantly clear that smoking makes the impact of a coronavirus worse”. Click here. 
  • COVID-19: Never has it been more important for smokers to quit and for individuals to avoid damaging their lungs by vaping. Statement of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, USA. Link here. 
  • Public Health Association Australia Urgent letter to SA Minister for Health recommending immediate ban of the public use of shisha Click here
  • Cleveland Clinic (USA) Teens, vaping and coronavirus (COVID-19): Is there a connection? If your child is vaping, now’s the time to help them quit  Click here (Added 30 March 2020)
  • Truth Initiative (USA) Covid-19, the connection to smoking and vaping, and resources for quitting Click here (Added 30 March 2020)
  • Mayo Clinic (USA) What smokers should know about Covid-19 Click here (Added 30 March 2020)
  • Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine, University of Oxford Does smoking increase the risk of acute respiratory infections? Click here (Added 30 March 2020)
  • National Institute on Drug Abuse (USA) Dr Nora Volkow blog – COVID-19: Potential implications for individuals with substance use disorders Click here (Added 30 March 2020)

Other smoking and Covid-19 health research

  • COVID-19 and smoking: A systematic review of the evidence “Although further research is warranted as the weight of the evidence increases, with the limited available data, and although the above results are unadjusted for other factors that may impact disease progression, smoking is most likely associated with the negative progression and adverse outcomes of COVID-19.” Open access. Link here.
  • Smoking Upregulates Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme-2 Receptor: A Potential Adhesion Site for Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 (Covid-19) ACE2 could be a novel adhesion molecule for SARS-CoV-2 causing Covid-19 and a potential therapeutic target for the prevention of fatal microbial infections, and therefore it should be fast tracked and prioritized for research and investigation. Data on smoking status should be collected on all identified cases of Covid-19. Open access. Link here.
  • Sex difference and smoking predisposition in patients with COVID-19 (Lancet correspondence). Open access. Link here.
  • ACE-2 expression in the small airway epithelia of smokers and COPD patients: implications for COVID-19 (Preprint, not peer reviewed) Click here (added 30 March 2020)
  • Susceptibility analysis of COVID-19 in smokers based on ACE-2 (Preprint, not peer reviewed) Click here (added 30 March 2020)

Covid-19 and the tobacco industry

  • COVID-19 and Tobacco Industry Interference, 2020While the COVID-19 crisis presents an opportunity to encourage the world’s smokers to quit smoking outright, including quitting cold turkey, the tobacco industry is taking the opportunity to counter this by camouflaging the links between tobacco and COVID-19; and promoting vaping products or heated tobacco, even when there is no evidence that these products are safe in the context of transmitting or acquiring COVID-19.” Brief by Global Center for Good Governance in Tobacco Control Click here (added 31 March 2020)
  • NYSAFP calls for ban on the sale of all tobacco and vaping products during pandemic The New York State Academy of Family Physicians (NYSAFP) announced on Sunday that they are calling for a ban on the sale of all tobacco or vaping products during this pandemic period. The NYSAFP called for this Executive Order in efforts to protect New Yorkers and lessen the impact and progression of the virus. Link here. 
  • Scoop Health Tobacco is not essential for life – Asthma & Respiratory Foundation of New Zealand Click here (added 31 March 2020)
  • The Bureau of Investigative Journalism Big Tobacco criticised for coronavirus publicity stunt after donating ventilators Click here (added 31 March 2020)
  • Business Insider Australia Jefferies touts big tobacco as ‘recession proof’, saying smokers aren’t fazed by illness risks and the boredom of lockdowns will encourage more smoking Click here
  • BAT (British American Tobacco) unaffected by outbreak Consumers continue to purchase tobacco products, even in the hardest hit areas. “We don’t see any change in patterns of consumption of cigarettes because of Covid-19,” said Jack Bowles, chief executive officer of BAT. “It is a daily purchase, so consumers continue to go to shop, even in Italy and France where tobacco shops are still open.” Tobacco Reporter article link here. 
  • Philip Morris USA suspending operations after 2nd employee tests positive for COVID-19 “We are committed to protecting the safety and well-being of our employees, contractors, their families and the communities where we operate,” said Billy Gifford, Altria’s Vice Chairman and Chief Financial Officer. Link here. (Editor’s note: smoking kills >400,000 Americans every year; 1100 per day. The final death toll from COVID-19 will depend on measures to prevent its spread however as of 25 March, approximately 780 Americans had died of COVID-19).
  • Spectrum Local News Vape advocate calls for temporary ban of cigarette sales Click here (added 29 March 2020)
  • Newshub New Zealand Coronavirus: Petone cigarette factory Imperial Tobacco open despite COVID-19 lockdown Click here (added 29 March 2020)
  • GlobalNewswire Scandinavian Tobacco Group A/S: Uncertainty and lack of transparency due to coronavirus – full-year guidance suspended Click here (added 29 March 2020)
  • The Hindu Covid-19 outbreak: tobacco auction suspended Click here (added 29 March 2020)
  • United News of India Covid-19:Tobacco board suspends auction in Karnataka Click here (added 29 March 2020)
  • CSP (Convenience Store Products trade magazine, US) How Coronavirus concerns are affecting tobacco sales Click here (added 29 March 2020)
  • CSP (Convenience Store Products trade magazine, US) Tobacco demand steady amid COVID-19 crisis Click here (added 29 March 2020)

Media reports about COVID-19 and smoking, vaping and other tobacco products

  • IOL Independent Media South Africa Coronavirus in SA: Sale of cigarettes prohibited during 21-day lockdown Click here (added 29 March 2020)
  • Edmonton Journal Opinion: Use virus as motivation to quit vaping and smoking Click here (added 29 March 2020)
  • Bloomberg Vaping could compound health risks tied to virus, FDA says Click here (added 30 March 2020)
  • Times of India To check the spread of Covid-19, Uttar Pradesh bans manufacture and sale of pan masala Click here (added 29 March 2020)
  • The Canberra Times Cigarettes ‘essential’ in locked down NZ. [Extract: the decision to allow tobacco sales and manufacturing during the shutdown has infuriated the Asthma and Respiratory Foundation…board member Richard Edwards, a public health physician, said it was “outrageous” the government would allow an Imperial Tobacco factory based near Wellington to continue to make cigarettes. “Smoking is an ongoing health emergency,” he said.] Click here (added 29 March 2020)
  • Bangladesh Post Smokers more vulnerable to COVID-19: WHO Click here
  • European Scientist COVID-19 pandemic underscores the health risks for smokers with chronic bronchitis Click here
  • Reuters Smokers likely to be more at risk from coronavirus: EU agency Click here
  • Time Is there actually a link between vaping and coronavirus? Click here (Added 30 March 2020)
  • Washington Post Men are getting sicker, dying more often of COVID-19, Spain data shows Click here
  • Forbes Smokers at higher risk of severe COVID-19 during Coronavirus outbreak Click here
  • The Guardian Men are much more likely to die from coronavirus – but why? Click here
  • ABC News (USA) Vaping and e-cigarettes: Adding fuel to the coronavirus fire? Click here
  • CNN How smoking, vaping and drug use might increase risks from COVID-19 Click here
  • Coronavirus and lungs: How do smoking, vaping, air pollution affect respiratory illnesses? Click here
  • Canberra Times University of Tasmania researcher Dr Sukhwinder Singh Sohal says smokers at higher risk from COVID-19 Click here
  • Jakarta Post ‘Smokers in Indonesia are at high risk for COVID-19’: WHO Click here
  • France 24 Syria bans shisha, closes school over virus fears Click here
  • The National (United Arab Emirates) Coronavirus:Dubai bans shisha pipes with immediate effect Click here
  • Gulf News Shisha banned in the UAE over coronavirus fears Click here
  • Gulf News Coronavirus: Abu Dhabi hotels banned from serving shisha Click here
  • Global News (Canada) Qutting smoking could help protect against coronavirus, experts say Click here
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