Date published: 
30 May 2020
Type: 
News
Intended audience: 
General public
AHPPC statement

Key messages

  • Growing evidence suggests that smokers are more likely to develop severe COVID-19 disease. However, there is currently insufficient evidence available to conclude whether or not smoking increases susceptibility to contracting COVID-19.
  • Quitting smoking now could reduce the severity of disease for anyone who contracts COVID-19.
  • Quitting smoking now could help smokers improve their health and reduce underlying demands on Australia’s health system now and into the future.
  • Tobacco use is a major cause of cardiovascular disease, at least 16 types of cancer, respiratory disease and type 2 diabetes, and COVID-19 patients with these health conditions have been observed to suffer worse outcomes.
  • Irrespective of the relationship between smoking and COVID-19, quitting smoking at any age is beneficial to health. There is no safe level of tobacco consumption.
  • There is currently no direct evidence available examining the impacts of e-cigarette use on COVID-19 disease susceptibility and/or progression. However, there is increasing evidence that e-cigarette use poses a range of harms to the heart and lungs. 
  • Clinicians should use the opportunity to intervene with patients who are smokers or users of e-cigarettes and discuss options for quitting.

Background

  • Tobacco use was estimated to kill almost 21,000 Australians in 2015 and remains the leading cause of preventable death and disability in Australia.
  • All Australian Governments are committed to reducing the prevalence of smoking and its associated health, social and economic costs, and the inequalities it causes.
  • Up to two‑thirds of deaths in tobacco smokers can be attributed to smoking, and long term smokers die an average of 10 years earlier than non‑smokers.
  • Smoking cessation has immediate and long-term benefits. Individuals who quit smoking are less likely to develop chronic conditions related to smoking, and experience fewer hospital admissions for respiratory infections including COVID-19 and influenza.

Further information

Contacts for evidence-based smoking cessation support

Quitline

Contact Quitline for help to quit smoking. You can call the hotline on 13 QUIT between 8am and 8pm Monday to Friday, to talk to a counsellor or request a callback. They also offer an online chat service and have resources for health professionals. Visit their website for more information.

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