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Article originally posted May 2020.

World No Smoking Day is May 31 and is held by the World Health Organization (WHO) to spread awareness about the risks of tobacco use.

Did you know that smoking and vaping puts you at a greater risk for disease progression with coronavirus?

When you smoke or vape you are damaging your respiratory system’s ability to fight infections. As a smoker, you are at an increased risk of catching a viral infection because smokers have a lower immune system, chronic inflammation of the respiratory track and severe tissue damage. In addition, early studies have shown that smokers have higher levels of ACE2 receptors in their airways. The human ACE2 receptor is a protein on the surface of cells throughout the body that includes the lower and upper respiratory tract. This receptor is like the doorway for the coronavirus to enter your body. The coronavirus utilizes the ACE2 receptor as an entry point to inject genetic material into cells and then replicate the spread, which causes SARS-COV2.

What should I do if I smoke?

To lower your risk of complications from COVID-19, we recommend you should take these preventative measures: stop smoking, vaping and reduce your secondhand exposure. There has never been a better time than now to break your habit.

Why should I bother to quit? Isn’t the damage already done?

As soon as you quit smoking, your body immediately starts to recover. Your heart rate will drop and carbon monoxide levels in your blood drops to normal. About two weeks to three months after quitting, your heart attack risk drops and your lung function starts to improve.