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*UPDATED* Hospital visiting changes, home testing kits, Vaccine info, general info and guidance for public, NHSGGC staff, and community-based services.

Smoking and Covid-19

Key facts 

Smoking makes you more vulnerable to COVID-19. 

Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a respiratory infection, it affects your lungs and airways.

The science is showing that if you smoke you may be more susceptible to COVID-19 and that if you do get it, you are less equipped to deal with it. 

By smoking, your fingers are in contact with your lips. This increases the chance of passing the virus from your hand to your mouth. 

There is evidence that if you’re a smoker, you are more likely to develop a severe case of the virus. Smoking damages your lungs and weakens your immune system. This makes it more likely that you will have complications if you get sick and that it will take you longer to recover. 

Smoking of any kind, not just cigarettes, but shisha, cannabis or any other substances will also increase your risks. 

It’s not only smoking – breathing in second hand smoke at home and in other enclosed spaces may also increase your health risks. Children and those with existing health conditions are particularly at risk and smokers should take every effort to protect them from exposure. 

It’s not just about COVID-19. Smokers are also much more likely to get other health problems, at a time when the NHS is under strain from dealing with COVID-19.

If you smoke, the best thing you can do is to quit, to protect yourself and others, and reduce the impact on NHS services. 

Why quit smoking now? 

This is one of the most important actions you can take in relation to the current pandemic if you smoke. 

  • Reduce the likelihood of complications from COVID-19. Smoking damages your lungs putting you at more risk of serious complications. Stopping smoking will give your lungs a chance to start to repair, reduce the risk of complications and increase the likelihood of a quicker recovery. 
  • Protect the health of others. Exposure to second-hand smoke also increases the risk of complications from respiratory infections. During this time, when we are all at home, if you smoke you should make every effort to protect others from your smoke. 
  • Reduce the burden on the NHS. Stopping smoking brings immediate health benefits particularly to your heart and lungs, so you will be less likely to need the NHS for reasons other than COVID-19. 

What help is available? 

Smokers are at an increased risk of COVID-19. If you smoke, now has never been a better time to quit.  Our stop smoking services continue to offer FREE information, advice and support to help you stop smoking.  To find out about the stop smoking services and support in your area call the Quit Your Way service on 0800 916 8858 or visit

Whilst we can’t provide face to face support just now but we are offering phone based support which can be just as effective. We will also help you access free NRT or varenicline from your local pharmacy to help you with your quit attempt.


In hospital – if you are in hospital you can still access help to stop smoking through our Quit Your Way hospital, pregnancy or mental health service.  Just ask a member of staff for information or to refer you for support. 

Additional support – is available through or by contacting the national Quit Your Way helpline on 0800 84 84 84 (9am – 5pm) 

Vaping - If you are quitting using an e-cigarette, equipment and liquids are still available in supermarkets. Although vaping is likely to be less harmful than cigarette smoke, it still involves a hand to mouth action, and is therefore less helpful in reducing Covid-19 risk than products like NRT patches and gum (nicotine nasal sprays and inhalators may have a similar issue).

If you don’t want to stop smoking right now, there are things you can do to protect yourself and others: 

  • Keep washing your hands - By smoking, your fingers are in contact with your lips. This increases the chance of passing the virus from your hand to your mouth. Please take care to wash your hands thoroughly before lighting up.
  • Take your smoke outside if at all possible for example in the garden, when you take the bins out, or when you go outside for your exercise.
  • Please be mindful of others and, as far as possible, stay away from other people’s open windows, doorways, balconies etc. People are anxious about being exposed to tobacco smoke and your smoke drifting into their home could be upsetting.
  • If you can’t smoke outside because of the current situation, try to restrict your smoking to one room. If you can, use a room where you can open a window during and for some hours after you smoke (preferably one that others don’t use).
  • Use other sources of nicotine. To reduce the amount you smoke, use nicotine replacement therapy, such as patches or gum, or vaping products whilst at home. People often find it helpful to combine a slower acting nicotine product (such as a patch) with a faster acting product (like gum). Vaping also exposes those around you to far less harm than tobacco smoke.


Last Updated: 13 August 2020