COVID-19 and Tobacco


CDC Updates on COVID-19 and Smoking

Being a current or former cigarette smoker may increase your risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

Actions to take

Learn about smoking and tobacco use.

Learn about the health effects of cigarette smoking.

Help Protect Yourself and Your Loved Ones from COVID-19: Stop Smoking and Vaping Now

In response to this global pandemic, we have all been reminded that we should practice healthy habits for ourselves, our families, and our communities. If you smoke or vape, quitting is a smart step toward that goal.  Doctors and health professionals are working around the clock  to treat sick patients for the COVID-19 virus. The best ways to help are to stay home and wash your hands, and if you smoke or vape you should consider quitting.

Here are three great reasons why you should stop smoking and vaping now:

  1. Smoking doubles your risk of developing respiratory infections.
    1. Smoking weakens the immune system and the body's ability to fight infections.2
  2. Smoking increases your risk of getting sicker from COVID-19.
    1. In a review of 5 studies published to date3 smoking is most likely associated with getting sicker with COVID-19. In the largest study of 1,099 people with COVID-194, people who smoke were 2.4 times more likely to get really sick (e.g. admitted to an intensive care unit, needing mechanical ventilation, dying) compared to those who did not smoke.  Smoking can cause chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and other health problems that my contribute to serious illness.2 Stopping smoking and vaping can still help your health if you have COPD or heart disease.5
  3. Vaping can also harm lung health.
    1. Growing evidence suggests that the aerosol from vaping devices can harm lungs at the cellular and organ levels and worsen the body's ability to fight respiratory infections.6 The recent outbreak of e-cigarette, or vaping-associated product lung injury, predominantly affecting young people, is still a major public health concern.

Coping with Stress

Many people are struggling with the uncertainty, isolation, and anxiety that has come with COVID-19, and any people believe smoking and vaping helps to relieve their stress.

But smoking and vaping actually puts stress on the body. Nicotine is a stimulant that makes the heart work harder, and most vape devices popular with teens have very high doses of nicotine. This can lead to irritability, anxiety, and mood swings in young people.

There are much healthier ways to cope than smoking and vaping such as:

  • Get plenty of sleep.
  • Be active every day doing something you enjoy. But don't forget to practice social distancing. 
  • Eat well and stay hydrated.
  • Take a long bath or shower.
  • Talk with others. We have caring counselors who are just a call or chat away!

Coping with Withdrawal

Some people experience withdrawal and some don’t.

  • Withdrawal symptoms are a sign your body is healing and getting rid of toxins.
  • If you have symptoms, they will probably be strongest in the first few days.
  • Although they can be uncomfortable, there is no associated health danger. If you’re concerned about withdrawal, message your doctor.

If you are a parent or loved one of someone going through nicotine withdrawal, here are a few tips to help them.

  • Be a calming influence. Don’t contribute to their stress.
  • Don’t react to mood swings. They aren’t about you.
  • Stay positive, even if they slip or relapse.

As many young people get vapes from classmates, their access may be shut down due to school closures related to COVID-19. Click here for additional information on how you can help young people quit vaping.


You can get free help to stop smoking and vaping! 

Quitline Iowa is here for you.  Coaches will help you develop your own personal quit plan by phone 1-800-QUIT-NOW or chat www.quitlineiowa.org.  It is great to work through the stress and anxiety with caring professionals during these times about how to stop smoking and vaping.  The coaches can also talk with you about medications like nicotine patches, gums or lozenges that help manage cravings you may be eligible to get them for free.

Keep a smoke-free home to protect others as well. Secondhand smoke worsens lung health for nonsmokers, especially children. If you are a nonsmoker, contact Quitline Iowa to find out how to help someone you love quit smoking or vaping.  You can also check out Iowa's Smoke Free Homes Program for more information.

Being smoke and tobacco-free is very important for your health and the health of your family and our community.



  • Click HERE to see a new web page created by Smokefree.gov about the connection between smoking and COVID-19.
  • Truth Initiative article offers advice on how to quit smoking, or encourage someone else to quit, while still practicing social distancing.
  • The National Association of Chronic Disease Directors published a fact sheet highlighting precautions people with chronic conditions should take to protect themselves from COVID-19

Click on the images below to download 11" x 14" posters to be shared



  1. Cohen S, Tyrrell DA, Russel MA, Jarvis MJ, Smith AP. Smoking, alcohol consumption, and susceptibility to the common cold. Am J Public Health. 1993;83(9):1277-1283.
  2. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Smoking: 50 Years of Progress: a Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: US Department of health and Human Services, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health;2014.
  3. Vardavas C, Nikitara K. COVID-19 and smoking: A systematic review of the evidence. Tobacco Induced Disease. 202;18:20.
  4. Guan WJ, Ni ZY, Hu Y, et al. Clinical Characteristics of Coronavirus Disease 2019 in China. N Engle J Med. 2020.
  5. U.S Department of Health and Human Services. Smoking Cessation. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health;2014.
  6. Gotts JE, Jordt SE, McConnell R, Tarran R. What are the respiratory effects of e-cigarettes? BMJ. 2019;366:I5275.
  7. King BA Jones CM, Baldwin GT, Briss PA. The EVALI and Youth Vaping Epidemics - Implications for Public Health. N Engl J Med. 2020;382(8):689-691.