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NHS Advice: Vaping, Smoking & COVID-19

NHS Advice: Vaping, Smoking & COVID-19

Introduction

There has been a lot of talking in the smoking and vaping communities about the risks associated with COVID-19. This is not surprising as both smoking and vaping involve the use of your respiratory system and coronavirus is an infection that affects both the lungs and airways. Evidence is currently mixed and still developing but the NHS has provided some information based on their current understanding.

What is COVID-19/Coronavirus?

COVID-19 is a newly discovered infectious disease caused by Coronavirus which affects the lungs and the rest of the respiratory system. Most people who develop symptoms of COVID-19 will experience a mild to moderate respiratory illness and then recover. Similarly, to the common seasonal flu, the people most at risk are those who have underlining heath conditions and the elderly. It’s important to protect the people around you by keeping a safe distance away from them or by using hand sanitiser if you are handling items that will be handed over to people who are in the high risk groups.

Coronavirus and Smoking

Smoking causes severe damage to the whole respiratory system and harms the immune system. This in turn reduces your ability to fight off infections like the Coronavirus. In addition to this, smoking also involves hand to mouth gestures which puts you at risk of contracting viruses. Logically, this means that long term smokers who already have impaired immune and respiratory systems are potentially at serve risk if they contract COVID-19 and could struggle to fight it off. This could lead to more severe outcomes.

People who are exposed to second-hand smoke could also be at risk if there is any damage to their health. For example, an impaired immune system. Young children who have been exposed to second-hand smoke are at risk due to the potential under development of their respiratory and immune systems.

Our advice to is quit smoking and live a smoke free life.

Vaping & COVID-19

The use of e-cigarettes as a system to deliver nicotine is backed by Public Health England and is regarded as 95% safer than traditional cigarettes. Current evidence to date suggests that vaping is far less harmful for your respiratory system than smoking and there is no link between the immune system and vaping. It is also unknown if vaping makes more susceptible to COVID-19. However, the belief is that if it does, it would be far less severe than smoking. The biggest risk between vaping and contracting COVID 19 is the hand to mouth gesture and to counteract this, the following is advised:  

  • Wash or sanitiser your hands before vaping and touching your vape device
  • Do not share devices
  • Clean your e-cigarette on a regular basis

Public Health England confirmed in 2018 that bystanders are not affected by passive vaping and there are no adverse health effects. Unreliable and uncertified sources tried to make claims that there was a risk of contracting COVID-19 from the clouds produced by vape devices. To date, there is no evidence of this. However, as a precaution and to maximise safety, it is recommended that you should not exhale clouds in the presence of others.

Vaping remains a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes and it is especially important that vapers do not return to smoking.

Shisha and Coronavirus

The use of shisha and hookah pipes is not advised due to them posing the same risks as traditional cigarettes and because most sessions involve sharing mouth pieces.

Conclusion

Evidence currently suggests that the use of e-cigs is far safe than traditional cigarettes in terms of recovering from COVID-19. Overall, the best prevention methods are to keep clean and to be considerate to those around you. Whilst this has been highlighted more since the outbreak of Coronavirus, it is something that should be done on a regular basis. For example, you should wash or sanitise your hands before interacting with elderly or with those who have a weakened immune system.  

References 

NHS 

World Health Organisation 

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