November 16, 2020

COVID-19 pandemic: A great reason to quit smoking


Dr. Jennifer McClure explains why now may be the perfect time to stop smoking

By Jennifer McClure, PhD, senior investigator and director of research, faculty, and development, Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute

With everything going on in the world right now, it is tempting to think this is not a good time to stop smoking, but I’d like to offer a counter perspective: This may be the best time in your life to give up tobacco.

Yes, the COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on the world and made just about everything a little (or, who’s kidding, a lot) harder, but it also provides the perfect justification to finally decide to stop smoking. Here’s why:    

  • Smoking impairs immune functioning, and that may undermine the ability to ward off COVID-19 and other infectious diseases, if exposed.
  • Smokers have more of the proteins called ACE2 receptors that the SARS-CoV-2 virus uses to enter the body. In other words, smoking may make it easier to catch COVID-19.
  • Mounting evidence appears to suggest that smoking is associated with worse COVID-19 outcomes. 
  • Quitting smoking can save you thousands of dollars a year. The average cost of a pack of cigarettes in the United States is $6.58, but costs can be as high as $10.50 a pack depending on where you live. If you smoke a pack a day and spend $6.58 a pack, you could save $2,402 a year by quitting. (You can calculate your own savings here.)  Who couldn’t use a little extra cash during a pandemic?
  • Quitting smoking means fewer trips to the store to buy cigarettes, which means greater social distancing and lower infection risk for yourself and those close to you.
  • You can’t smoke while wearing a mask, anyway.

Ready to make a change?

When you are ready to quit, you can call 1-800-QUIT NOW to access free phone-based counseling or go to to learn about other treatment options.

Not quite ready to quit?

If you smoke, are not yet ready to quit, but are interested in learning more about the process so you are prepared when the time feels right, you may be eligible for one of our research studies. Learn more here.​​​​​

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