Certain groups of people are at higher risk of getting seriously sick from COVID-19.

If you smoke or vape, you’re one of them.

That means it’s even more important for you to take steps to protect yourself from the new coronavirus.

Are Smokers More Likely to Get COVID-19?

When you smoke or vape, your fingers touch your lips. This raises the chance that the virus will spread from your hand to your mouth.

If you use a smoking product like a water pipe, you may share its mouthpieces or hoses with others.

If you use it with someone who’s infected, you could get sick, too.

Smoking and vaping can also lower your immunity to respiratory infections.

One study even found that e-cigarettes suppress immune cells in your nose. They also destroy the cilia in your lungs.

Cilia are tiny, hair-like structures that trap viruses and debris and sweep them out of your airways. They’re one of your body’s main defenses against infection.

When they’re damaged, they’re less able to prevent the virus from settling into your lungs.

The new coronavirus enters cells in your lungs by binding to things called ACE2 receptors.

Researchers found that cigarette smoke increases your ACE2 levels, though it’s not clear what effect this might have on your chances of getting COVID-19.

Are Smokers at High Risk of Severe COVID-19 Infections?

If you smoke, you may already have lung problems. They make you more likely to get very sick from COVID-19 as the coronavirus attacks your lungs.

When smokers’ lungs are exposed to flu or other infections that affect their airways, they can get much sicker than nonsmokers.

If your lungs are already damaged, they may not be able to provide you with enough oxygen or to use oxygen the way they should.

Damage to the cilia in your lungs can also make it harder for them to clear out things like mucus.

Smokers are more likely to get serious lung conditions such as pneumonia.

They’re also at higher risk of a complication called acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), in which fluid builds up in the tiny air sacs in your lungs. This means your lungs can’t fill with enough air.

Less oxygen gets to your bloodstream and organs. This can lead to organ damage or even death.

One Chinese study of people who had COVID-19 and were hospitalized with pneumonia found that the odds that the disease would get worse were 14 times higher for those with a history of smoking.

People who smoke are more likely to have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and heart and blood vessel disease, which raises their risk of serious complications.

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