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Smoking, vaping and COVID-19 are not good for the lungs

Physical distancing might make it easier to quit during Great American Smokeout.

We know about 80 percent of people who get sick with COVID-19 have mild symptoms and recover at home.

People with underlying conditions have severe outcomes from COVID-19 more often than healthy people. Studies show tobacco users have more severe symptoms. The FDA says smoking and vaping may also increase the risks of COVID-19 infection.

Nov. 19 is a great day to start on the road to not smoking or vaping. The third Thursday in November is the Great American Smokeout. Join thousands of others in the journey to give up smoking and vaping.

You don’t have to stop smoking in one day. But one day is a start. Get help along this journey from Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, the American Cancer Society, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the state Department of Health.

Counseling from a healthcare provider and medications can double your chances of quitting smoking. You can get more help to quit smoking  when you talk to a healthcare provider, call (800) 784-8669 (800-QUIT-NOW), or go online to smokefree.gov.

Breathe easier.

Our behaviors affect our overall health. What we eat, how much we exercise, and whether we smoke or vape contribute to our overall health.

Many health conditions, including smoking, make COVID-19 more dangerous. Others include COPD, asthma and lung diseases. The FDA says smoking also suppresses the immune system and increases the risk of respiratory infections. COVID-19 is a respiratory infection that attacks the lungs. Anything you can do to keep your lungs and immune system healthy could help you avoid the worst effects of any respiratory disease.

You can immediately improve your health when you quit smoking or vaping.

A man smokes an e-cigarette at a desk

Should I quit right now?

Now is a great time to quit. Here’s why:

  1. Your daily routine likely changed because of the coronavirus. You could develop new habits to replace smoking and vaping.
  2. You are experiencing reduced social pressures and triggers to smoke or vape. You aren’t seeing your friends or coworkers who also smoke or vape.
  3. The annual Great American Smokeout brings together thousands of people from across the country who, like you, are concerned about their health. Quitting is easier when you have help.

Quitting is a challenge, but it could help you fight COVID-19 and reduce your risk of exposure. You likely have less exposure from putting cigarettes up to your mouth and fewer trips to the store to purchase more.

When you stop smoking, your body immediately starts repairing itself. According to the American Cancer Society, 20 minutes after your last cigarette your heart rate and blood pressure drop. One month later the tiny little hairs in your lungs called cilia start to heal. Cilia clear mucus from your lungs. They help your body fight off infection.

Coughing helps your body clear infection. If your cilia aren’t working well, mucus can build up in your lungs. Quitting smoking also reduces inflammation in your body.

And the CDC says health effects of smoking make you more likely to get COVID-19.

It’s a journey.

Stressful times make it hard to quit but it is even more important to try. Not ready to fully quit? Try to replace a few smoke breaks with something else, like going for a walk or calling a friend. Find ways to manage your stress and do your best to avoid nicotine use.

Healthy bodies can fight off infection more easily. Anything you do to keep your lungs in good shape could help reduce the risk of serious illness.

We want to help.

We want everyone in Pierce County to live the healthiest life they can. If you’re ready to quit smoking or vaping, we want to help. Resources are available at tpchd.org/quit

Learn more about vaping and e-cigarettes: tpchd.org/healthy-people/tobacco-free-living/vaping-and-e-cigarettes