COVID-19 and smoking: resources, research and news

 

This page provides resources, research and news reports about COVID19 and smoking, vaping and other tobacco products for the information of health professionals, researchers and the general public.

(Last updated 9 September 2020)

Tobacco Control & BMJ publications

  • COVID-19, smoking and inequalities: a study of 53 002 adults in the UK “…current smoking was independently associated with self-reported confirmed COVID-19 infection. There were socio-economic disparities, with the association only apparent among those without post-16 qualifications. Smokers reported lower adherence to guidelines despite being more worried than non-smokers about catching or becoming seriously ill from COVID-19.” Click here (added 23 August 2020)
  • Tobacco Control and Human Rights Before, During, and After COVID-19 “Post-pandemic, tobacco control will also benefit from a rights-based approach that serves to strengthen the realization of human rights for all persons. Like viruses, the risks and harms from tobacco use do not discriminate.” Click here (added 15 May 2020)
  • The two faces of the tobacco industry during the Covid-19 pandemic “While tobacco companies ostentatiously behave like model corporate citizens in their CSR efforts around the coronavirus crisis, behind the scenes they aggressively push back against emergency public health actions to reduce coronavirus transmission.” Click here (added 10 May 2020)
  • Article 5.3 of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control & the COVID19 Pandemic “Parties need to ensure that gratitude for the lives saved now do not interfere with the saving of millions of lives that will be lost without full implementation of the treaty, including implementation of Article 5.3.” Click here (added 10 May 2020)
  • An urgent call to address tobacco-related health disparities among sexual and gender minority populations in the COVID-19 pandemic “The current COVID-19 pandemic amplifies the urgency and significance for tobacco control researchers and practitioners to address tobacco-related health disparities and unmet healthcare needs among sexual and gender minority populations”. Click here (added 10 May 2020)
  • The tobacco industry in the time of COVID-19: time to shut it down? “The world will emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic changed. Phasing out cigarette sales would be an enormous long-term gain for public health. However, it is essential to act quickly, because—like containing COVID-19—delaying decisive action will cost many lives.” Click here (added 7 April 2020)
  • Smoking history is an important risk factor for severe COVID-19 “…in the absence of more data, tobacco smoking appears to be the most important avoidable risk factor for a poorer prognosis in COVID-19. Smoking status should be recorded in all surveillance systems for COVID-19 in every country.” Click here (added 6 April 2020)
  • 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

  • WHO statement: Tobacco use and COVID-19 “WHO urges researchers, scientists and the media to be cautious about amplifying unproven claims that tobacco or nicotine could reduce the risk of COVID-19.  There is currently insufficient information to confirm any link between tobacco or nicotine in the prevention or treatment of COVID-19.” Click here (added 14 May 2020)
  • Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Tobacco control during the COVID-19 pandemic: how we can help – statement from the head of the secretariat Click here (added 5 May 2020)
  • 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 among smoker sand amongst waterpipe users Click here

Quit smoking support, COVID-19 information for smokers

Looking after your mental health during this time is essential. This resource from the World Confederation of Cognitive and Behavioural Therapies may be helpful (not specific to smoking) Click here

  • Salon Here’s how that rumor that smokers can’t get COVID-19 got started Click here (added 14 May 2020)
  • ASH USA Covid-19 and Tobacco Policy and Communications Toolkit Click here (added 30 April 2020)
  • Tobacco Atlas What do we know about tobacco use and Covid-19? Click here (added 22 April 2020)
  • Channel News Asia Commentary: Smokers, you have a higher risk of Covid-19 infection Click here (added 18 April 2020)
  • Croakey (Australia) Improving your chances with #Covid-19 by quitting smoking Click here (added 18 April 2020)
  • New York Times How to quit smoking and vaping during the coronavirus pandemic Click here (added 13 April 2020)
  • University of NSW (Australia) Are smokers more likely to catch COVID-19? Two UNSW Sydney academics discuss how coronavirus – primarily a respiratory virus – affects smokers. Click here (added 1 April 2020)
  • ASH USA Sheltering in place – an opportunity to finally quit smoking Click here (added 2 April 2020)
  • Quitline Victoria (Australia): FAQs – Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Smoking. Click here.
  • UK #QuitforCovid campaign. Click here
  • Cochrane Special Collections Coronavirus (COVID-19) Effective options for quitting smoking during the pandemic Click here (added 3 April 2020)
  • 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

  • The Union’s Tobacco Control Department Smoking and Covid19 Scientific Brief Analyses the current science—and any related controversies—regarding COVID-19 and smoking. This brief includes an overview of the latest science, enumerating trends, key findings and study flaws before delving into specific publications. It is updated regularly (usually monthly). Click here (added 9 September 2020)
  • Expose Tobacco/STOP (Stopping Tobacco Organizations & Products) Review of controversial study related to smoking and Covid-19 Click here (added 30 April 2020)
  • Expose Tobacco/STOP (Stopping Tobacco Organizations & Products) Links between smoking and Covid-19 Click here (added 30 April 2020)
  • Chest Physician Researchers investigate impact of smoking on Covid-19 risk Click here (added 30 April 2020)
  • Smoking and Covid-19: rapid evidence review for the Royal College of Physicians, London (UK) Current and past tobacco smoking is associated with changes in the ACE2 receptor expression, hypertension, diabetes and worse outcomes following other viral infections. It is hence plausible that smoking is an independent risk factor for hospitalisation and death from COVID-19. Here, we review available evidence for an association between smoking status and hospitalisation for COVID-19. Click here (added 18 April 2020)
  • University of California San Francisco UCSF adds smoking and vaping nicotine and cannabis to COVID-19 triage protocol Click here (added 7 April 2020)
  • ACE-2 Expression in the Small Airway Epithelia of Smokers and COPD Patients: Implications for COVID-19 “In summary, active cigarette smoking and COPD up-regulate ACE-2 expression in lower airways, which in part may explain the increased risk of severe COVID-19 in these populations. These findings highlight the importance of smoking cessation for these individuals and increased surveillance of these risk subgroups for prevention and rapid diagnosis of this potentially deadly disease.” Click here (added 11 April 2020)
  • COVID-19 Symptom Tracker (UK) “Thanks to all the COVID Symptom Trackers, we now have data on 1.5 million people from all over the UK.  In this data, smoking significantly increases the risk of self-diagnosed COVID-19 given classical symptoms (fever and persistent cough) by about 26%.  Other studies indicate the risk of severe disease is probably even higher.” Click here (added 2 April 2020)
  • 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

  • Expose Tobacco/STOP (Stopping Tobacco Organizations & Products) As Costs Pile Up for COVID-19, Tobacco Companies Should Be Held Accountable for Smoking-Related Health Harms Click here (added 11 June 2020)
  • Expose Tobacco/STOP (Stopping Tobacco Organizations & Products) Philip Morris International: The Beginning of the End? Click here (added 14 May 2020)
  • ASH USA States can stop selling cigarettes during the Covid-19 pandemic – response to Rep. Krishnamoorthi’s opinion piece on banning e-cigarettes during Covid-19 in The Hill Click here (added 11 May 2020)
  • TobaccoTactics, University of Bath Covid-19 wiki Click here (added 3 May 2020)
  • Animal Politico (Mexico) Cosechando muertes en tiempos de Covid-19, una mirada a la industria tabacalera (In Spanish, Google Translate translation: Harvesting deaths in Covid-19 times, a look at the tobacco industry) Click here (added 3 May 2020) 
  • The Independent (UK) The tobacco industry is trying to get cigarettes classified as ‘essential’ item during lockdown Click here (added 3 May 2020)
  • The News (Pakistan) Govt can generate funds for Covid-19 by regulating tobacco products Click here (added 30 April 2020)
  • Africa Tobacco Control Alliance (ATCA) Africa must mobilize to stop the tobacco industry from exploiting the Covid-19 crisis to grow its business: statement of Leonce Sessou, Executive Secretary, ATCA Click here (added 21 April 2020)
  • Bloomberg Philip Morris money is funding pro-vaping spin Click here (added 20 April 2020)
  • The Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) ‘Corona-washing’: How the tobacco industry is advancing its interests in the midst of the pandemic Click here (added 19 April 2020)
  • The Times (UK) Be wary of working with Big Tobacco, says WHO Click here – subscription required, free trial available (added 16 April 2020)
  • STOP (Stopping Tobacco Organizations & Products) Industry Watchdog Warns Governments of Tobacco Industry Attempts to Take Advantage of COVID-19 Pandemic Click here (added 11 April 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. 
  • Global Center for Good Governance in Tobacco Control COVID-19 and Tobacco Industry Interference, 2020 “While 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.” Click here (added 3 April 2020)
  • ASH USA statement The coronavirus catch-22 for the tobacco industry Click here (added 3 April 2020)
  • City AM Imperial Brands and British American Tobacco sign deals for new credit. Quote from Imperial Brands: “Our distribution business, Logista, which serves Italy, France and Spain has increased the levels of finished goods stock in its regional distribution hubs and continues to deliver product to retailers.” Editor’s note: Italy, Spain and France are among the countries hardes hit by COVID19, with a combined death toll of approximately 27,000 as of 2 April 2020). Click here (added 2 April 2020)
  • The Guardian British American Tobacco working on plant-based coronavirus vaccine Click here (added 2 April 2020)
  • 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)
  • Halfwheel Ten Nicaraguan cigar factories shut down due to coronavirus Click here and All cigar factories in Honduras closed until at least 29 March Click here and Dominican cigar industry shuts down due to coronavirus Click here (added 11 April 2020)
  • Cigar Aficionado Covid-19: Cigar factories react to viral outbreak Click here (added 11 April 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-related issues

  • New York Times Vaping Links to Covid Risk Are Becoming Clear Click here (added 9 September 2020)
    BBC Coronavirus: Spanish regions ban smoking over Covid-19 risk Click here (added 17 August 2020)
  • BBC Coronavirus: Smokers quit in highest numbers in a decade Click here (added 17 August 2020)
  • The New York Times Lawmakers say Puff Bar used pandemic to market to teens Click here (added 4 June 2020)
  • CNN Opinion The fight against Covid-19 should also be the fight against tobacco Click here (added 4 June 2020)
  • MJA Insight (Australia) Exit strategy: we can do it for COVID-19, why not tobacco? Click here (added 23 May 2020)
  • San Antonio Express – News Commentary: Smoking increases everyone’s Covid-19 risk Click here (added 11 May 2020)
  • The Guardian More than 300,000 UK smokers may have quit owing to Covid-19 fears Click here (added 5 May 2020)
  • Business Inquirer (Philippines) Dominguez: Liquor, cigarette restrictions to stay as health top priority amid pandemic Click here (added 3 May 2020)
  • Radio Formula (Mexico) Por emergencia sanitaria, anuncian paro en la comercialización de cigarros en México (In Spanish, Google Translate translation: Due to a health emergency, they announce a stop in the marketing of cigarettes in Mexico) Click here (added 3 May 2020)
  • Asian Tribune Who is killing more, COVID19 or tobacco industry? Click here (added 3 May 2020)
  • Mmegionline (Uganda) Gov’t bans sale and importation of tobacco Click here (added 21 April 2020)
  • The Voice BW (Botswana) ATN (Anti Tobacco Network, Botswana) advocates for tobacco ban Click here (added 21 April 2020)
  • Ghana Web Coronavirus: Ban alcohol, cigarette sales; give special care to NCD patients Click here (added 21 April 2020)
  • CNS (Citizen News Service) Will Indonesia mitigate COVID-19 by enforcing stronger tobacco control and ratifying global tobacco treaty? Click here (added 20 April 2020)
  • The Citizen (South Africa) Tobacco association announces it will launch a legal challenge of cigarette ban Click here (added 19 April 2020)
  • LA Times Tobacco, vaping industries craft coronavirus sales strategy Click here, subscription required (added 19 April 2020)
  • Scientific American Are Smokers or Vapers More at Risk for COVID-19? Here’s What We know Click here (added 11 April 2020)
  • The Irish Times Do you smoke or vape? Here’s why Covid-19 means you should quit right now Click here (added 8 April 2020)
  • The Daily Star (Bangladesh) Ban cigarette sales during pandemic, urge anti-tobacco organisations Click here (added 8 April 2020)
  • CNN Why Covid-19 might make you rethink your smoking habits Click here (added 11 April 2020)
  • RIA News Tobacco companies resume factory operations in Russia [in Russian] Click here (added 7 April 2020)
  • The New York Times Experts Urge Smokers and Tobacco Firms to Quit for COVID-19 Click here (added 7 April 2020)
  • Inquirer.net (Philippines) Quezon town temporarily bans cigarettes amid COVID-19 threat Click here (added 5 April 2020)
  • CTV News (Canada) Two Covid-19 cases diagnosed in Kahnawake, tobacco sales halted Click here (added 3 May 2020)
  • 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
  • Cleveland.com 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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