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Doctors warn of link between smoking and Covid-19


'Those patients are going to be at much greater risk.'

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH)– Doctors have long warned of the damage smoking, and most recently vaping, can do to healthy lungs. Now, there’s growing concern smokers and e-cigarette users face even greater risk from coronavirus.

“It’s never really been more important to take care of our lungs and keep them healthy,” said Kevin O’Flaherity, Director of Advocacy for the Northeast Region of Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

The DC-based non-profit is typically busy advocating for laws that reduce smoking use.

But as Covid-19 spreads across the U.S., advocates are spreading awareness about a dangerous link between the virus, smoking and vaping. 

“If you’re a smoker it will make your chances of getting it higher and if you get it – it will likely make your complications worse,” O’Flaherity said.

We asked New Haven primary care physician Frank Mongillo about the potentially dangerous link. His concern is for those long-term smokers suffering from bronchitis and COPD.

“So, those patients are going to be at much greater risk if they get Covid-19,” Mongillo said.

However, when it comes to vaping, the research is limited.

“We do know that you can cause acute lung damage,” Mongillo said. “And if you do that with Covid-19 that’s just going to increase the risk even more.”

Mongillo says now is the perfect time to stop smoking and vaping. He says that can at least heal short-term damage to the lining of the airwaves. He says he’s treating some Covid-19 patients that are recovering at home. 

“The ones that are not doing as well are the ones that are older, the ones that have pre-existing lung conditions,” Mongillo said. “They’re the ones that are less likely to recover and more likely to have complications.” 

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