27 Jan

Smokers are twice as likely to be hospitalised with Covid-19, study suggests

New research suggests that smokers are twice as likely as non-smokers to be hospitalised with Covid-19. 

A study conducted by researchers at King’s College London revealed that people who smoke are more likely to develop severe symptoms of the virus than non-smokers. Using data collected through the ZOE Covid Symptom Study app, the team found that 11% of app users are smokers.

Smokers were found to be 14% more likely to develop the main symptoms associated with the virus and 29% more likely to have up to five additional symptoms. The three main symptoms include fever, a new, persistent cough and shortness of breath. Additional signs include loss of taste and smell, fatigue, loss of appetite and muscle aches. Smokers were 50% more likely to experience 10 or more symptoms of Covid-19.

Crucially, the research revealed that smokers were 50% more likely to be hospitalised after testing positive for Coronavirus.

In light of the study findings, researchers have encouraged healthcare professionals to implement smoking cessation therapies and strategies when tackling and treating Covid-19. Lead researcher and consultant physician, Claire Steves, said that it was more important than ever to take steps to reduce the risks of people who have Covid-19 ending up in hospital, with NHS services stretched to their limits and ICU departments filling up across the country.

There have been reports of smoking offering a protective effect in the media, but this study clearly shows the impact of smoking on the risk of developing severe symptoms, which require hospital treatment. 

GP surgeries, dental practices and community pharmacies can all help people to give up smoking by providing access to nicotine replacement therapies, group support and stop smoking advisers. Quitting smoking offers a range of health benefits, including a lower risk of cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure and respiratory illnesses.