Smoking, E-Cigarettes & COVID-19

Last updated: April 9

Based on what we know so far about COVID-19, people who smoke tobacco or marijuana, or who use e-cigarettes are more likely to have severe complications after contracting the virus than the general population. Your physician can review your medical record to give you a greater understanding of your personal risk.

Here are answers to some common questions related to smoking, e-cigarette use and COVID-19. Please note that these answers are subject to change as we receive more information about COVID-19. If you have additional questions not answered here, call your physician or the Northwestern Medicine COVID-19 hotline at 312.47.COVID (312.472.6843).

Frequently Asked Questions

People who smoke or use e-cigarettes may be more likely to contract COVID-19 because the act of smoking or using e-cigarettes involves touching a hand to the lips. This can increase the possibility of transmitting COVID-19 from hand to mouth.

Experts believe that the more underlying health conditions a person has, the higher their chance of having serious complications from COVID-19. People who smoke tobacco or marijuana, or who use e-cigarettes may already have lung disease or reduced lung capacity, which increases their risk of complications from COVID-19.

Talk to your physician about options available to help you stop smoking or using e-cigarettes. Northwestern Medicine offers smoking cessation resources, and the Illinois Department of Public Health operates the Illinois Tobacco Quitline at 866.QUIT.YES (866.784.8937).

As always, take your regular medications exactly as prescribed by your physician. Keep at least a two-week supply of your medications and contact your physician if you need refills. To refill your prescription, you can limit exposure to the virus by using a mail-order service or drive-thru pharmacy, or have a caregiver pick up your medication.

Physicians recommend that people who smoke or use e-cigarettes adhere to the recommendations released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, prioritizing physical distancing and hand hygiene. You should also exercise, eat well, reduce stress and get plenty of sleep. You should stay home as much as possible, and ask friends and family not to visit you if they are sick.

Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces like tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets and sinks daily to protect yourself against COVID-19. You can use regular household cleaning products to do this. Avoid disinfectants that can cause difficulty breathing.

If you have COVID-19 symptoms such as a fever, cough, sore throat or shortness of breath, call your physician for guidance.

If you have been exposed to someone who received a COVID-19 diagnosis, you should self-isolate for 14 days and monitor for symptoms of the virus. If you begin to experience symptoms, call your physician.