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Smoking/Vaping during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Should you be concerned?

June 2020

We know COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person.  People with lung disease are among those who are most at risk of developing a serious case of COVID-19, as their respiratory health is already compromised.

One of the topics that has come up related to COVID-19 and respiratory health, are if there are added risks associated with smoking and vaping during the pandemic.

According to The Lung Association of Manitoba, COVID-19 spreads by droplets, including saliva, so it will spread by sharing cigarettes, joints, pipes (including pipes in pipe ceremonies), waterpipes, and vaping devices contaminated by the virus. Do not share your smoking, pipes or vaping materials. It is best to practice to maintain social distancing by not sharing and staying 2 meters apart while smoking or vaping. 

“Because people who smoke or vape have frequent hand to mouth contact, it is important to keep your hands washed at frequent intervals and especially before and after smoking or vaping,” stated Anjie Valgardson, Tobacco Programs Coordinator, of The Lung Association of Manitoba.

“Those who vape can take extra steps to ensure their device stays as clean as possible by not placing it on shared surfaces like tables or countertops and wiping it down with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.”

COVID-19 is a lung illness that can cause patients to experience mild to severe lung complications. Pre-existing lung disease or reduced lung capacity may greatly increase the risk of serious illness. Smoking impairs lung function making it harder for the body to fight off coronaviruses and other diseases.

Right now, we are uncertain if you can catch COVID-19 from exhaled e-cigarette vapour. Exhaled vapour can contain droplets. Keep a distance of 2 metres from others and vape outside to reduce this possible risk. If you smoke, always smoke outside to reduce the risk to others.

Quitting or reducing smoking or vaping is the best thing you can do to protect your health. The most effective way to quit smoking cigarettes is combining nicotine replacement therapies (NRTs help with cravings) with quit coaching (to help you plan a successful quit). We do not know if this works for quitting vaping too, but it's the best available choice at the moment. Talk to your physician/healthcare provider for more information.

“This may be the perfect time to quit,” Valgardson added.  “Smoking is often a social activity, and with offices, factories and bars closed and people away from friends and colleagues, old social patterns of smoking with friends and in certain places at certain times of day are disrupted. Social distancing can effectively take away the social aspect of smoking, particularly if no one else in the home smokes.”

Help for those who want to quit smoking can be found on the Lung Association, Manitoba website.

Submitted by:
Anjie Valgardson CTE
Tobacco Programs Coordinator
The Lung Association of Manitoba