It's Not a Good Time to Smoke Anything: Experts

Lungs need clean air during a pandemic
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 9, 2020 5:20 PM CDT
Smoking, Vaping Add Risk: Experts
A man smokes a cigarette while wearing a protective mask while waiting for a bus in Detroit on Wednesday.   (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Anytime is a good time to stop smoking or vaping, but health experts say this moment would be especially beneficial. "Quitting during this pandemic could not only save your life, but by preventing the need for your treatment in a hospital, you might also save someone else’s life,” said Dr. Jonathan Winickoff, a researcher and Harvard Medical School professor. The coronavirus attacks the lungs, and research has shown that smoking damages lungs, the New York Times reports. "People who smoke are immunosuppressed to some degree," another expert said, per Scientific American. Smokers generate more mucus, have trouble getting it out of their lungs, and smoking changes immune cells. "And all that leads up to, basically, they’re more likely to get viruses and have a worse outcome," the expert said.

With vaping being relatively new, there's less research on its effects. But based on what is known, one researcher said, "It stands to reason that you would lower your risk if you stopped doing these things." That includes marijuana. "Clean air is what the lungs should be inhaling," Winickoff said, "especially during a global pandemic." Just the act of smoking is problematic now, he said: "You bring this device or cigarette to your mouth to inhale, and you do so repeatedly. You touch the cartridge. You put it next to your face. You are spreading whatever is in your hand into your body." And then there's the coughing. Taken together, Winickoff said, "That’s a recipe for increased spread." (Read more coronavirus stories.)

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