It may seem obvious that smoking is harmful to anyone experiencing a COVID 19 respiratory tract infection. However, it was not until the pandemic that a careful look at the exact mechanisms by which inhaled nicotine products actually caused injury and even promoted infection with the COVID 19 virus. There is clear evidence that tobacco use is associated with an increased risk of hospital mortality.
The mechanisms by which tobacco and nicotine containing inhaled products create their harm are several. First, which may be the most obvious, is toxic airway and tissue injury. These toxic effects not only apply to the lower airways, but to the upper airways as well where the virus first makes its attack. Second, tobacco smoke impairs some of the natural inflammatory cascade that initially impairs a virus attack on our airways. Third and fourth, smoking inhibits several very complex cell surface mechanisms that help to prevent the spike protein of the virus from attacking and entering the cells of our respiratory tract.
Given the severe and adverse consequences that nicotine product use has on COVID 19 outcomes, it is vitally important that we continue to promote smoking cessation as a public health goal. The Lung Disease Foundation of Central Pa. is a designated program provider and is working with a grant from the American Lung Association and the Pennsylvania Department of Health to provide smoking cessations programs for Blair and Bedford counties. For more information contact us at 814-946-2845. It is now more important than ever.