COVID-19 more fatal to smokers: study


Published: 2020-11-29 15:17

Last Updated: 2024-07-06 12:13

COVID-19 more fatal to smokers: study
COVID-19 more fatal to smokers: study

Sunday, a Jordanian study found that smoking is a leading cause of complications arising from COVID-19 infections as the 7,000 toxic chemicals contained in tobacco weaken lung function and therefore a person's ability to withstand the coronavirus.

Due to the deadly chemicals, acute and rapid inflammation of the respiratory system occurs, contributing to the failure in securing safe levels of oxygen in the blood.

-Smokers' lungs-

20-year-old smoker Mohannad contracted COVID-19. With difficulty breathing, he explained “my breath began to withdraw, and I thought that I was losing my life... I was drowning.”

Mohannad stressed the seriousness in the failure of his respiratory system in dealing with the virus due to his voracious abuse of nicotine, as his fragile lungs succumbed to the clutches of COVID-19.

He refused to imagine that he would contract the virus due to his good health. He thought smokers were less likely to contract COVID-19, according to what he read on social media.

Ghazi Al-Zaatari, Professor of Pathology and Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at the American University in Beirut (AUB), confirmed to the Petra News Agency that studies conducted on a group in search of immunity acquired against COVID-19 through smoking, concluded no concrete evidence agreeing to this claim.

-The silent killer-

Official figures indicated that 42 percent of Jordanians smoke tobacco products with an average monthly expenditure of JD 63 per smoker, and an average of 21 cigarettes per day. Jordanian families spend about JD 717 million on tobacco and cigarettes annually, at a rate of JD 1.5 per day for each family, in a country suffering from challenges of a failing economy imposed by the coronavirus crisis.

Al-Zaatari, who chairs the Scientific Committee for Regulating Tobacco Products at the World Health Organization (WHO), stated that all smokable products have an effect on the respiratory system, the heart and the circulatory system, stressing that the use of traditional cigarettes leads to severe damage, such as an increase in cases of obstruction and emphysema, heart and brain strokes, and cancer of the lungs and pancreas, diabetes, and damage to a pregnant women and their fetuses.

"Tobacco kills almost half of its users, that is, more than eight million people annually, including about seven million who use it directly, and about 1.2 million non-smokers who are exposed to smoke involuntarily," according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

WHO confirmed that the chances for smokers falling victim to COVID-19 is greater than non-smokers.
Additionally, smokers spread the coronavirus into their immediate surroundings, which increases the possibility of transmitting infection to others.

-It’s not just cigarettes-

Smoking hookah, an activity which commonly occurs in public places and gatherings, provides a great opportunity for the spread of the virus, said WHO as it increases the risk of disease transmission.

The results of a study conducted by a research team from the Stanford University School of Medicine indicated that electronic cigarettes are associated with a significantly increased risk of coronavirus among adolescents and young adults.

Cardiovascular Disease Consultant and Head of the Cardiology Department at Al-Bashir Hospitals Fakhry Al-Akour, indicated that smoking weakens the body's immunity and defenses, making it easier for the coronavirus to enter cells and seize them.

Akour explained the reason COVID-19 is more fatal to smokers. Coronavirus will find suitable places for its spread in the alveoli of the lungs after attacking it, causing severe inflammation which prevents gas exchange in lung tissue, resulting in a decline of oxygen levels in the blood where patients will require respirators.

He added that the heart muscle is exposed to a viral infection causing heart failure as a result of complications from the coronavirus, indicating that smoker patients appear to be in more vulnerable states than others, as it leads to the hardening of the coronary arteries which ‘feed’ the heart muscle.


Smoking affects the coronary arteries of the heart, causing them to block and cause heart attacks, which in turn lead to cardiomyopathy and weakness, added Akour. The risk of cardiomyopathy, which is shown through lung congestion and fluid accumulation, affects the function of the respiratory system.

Another smoker, Hatem Zaza was consistently warned by doctors that he would suffer cardiomyopathy due to his smoking habits after contracting COVID-19.

Zaza said that the symptoms of the virus began to appear little by little. They varied between a severe headache, chest pain, and an unbearably dry cough accompanied by sputum mixed with blood.

Zaza, who transmitted the virus to his wife, despite taking the necessary precautions, added, "The complications that I suffered as a smoker were many times [worse] than what my non-smoking wife suffered, which assured me that smoking kills coronavirus sufferers."

Chest, Respiratory and Sleep Diseases Specialist Mohammad Al-Tarawneh indicated that a cigarette holds about 7,000 carcinogens that penetrate the respiratory system and affect all parts of the body.
He called on smokers to quit smoking, especially in light of the coronavirus crisis, and the increased chances of infection with pneumonia, which causes death in some cases.

The Ministry of Health is proceeding with its awareness campaigns against tobacco, and its health indicators for 2019 show the issuance of thousands of awareness and guidance pamphlets to combat smoking.