Cigarette smoking has been around for years and it is the number one cause of preventable death. Studies found that smoking alters immune response and causes weakening of the body’s immune system and this does not only cause negative effects on medical treatments, it can also reduce the effectiveness of vaccines as well. This situation also applies to alcohol consumption as well.
Smoking reduces the ability of the immune system to form a memory cell which acts as a protective mechanism against diseases such as COVID-19 diseases when the vaccine is given to the smoker. This results in a weakened immune system and leaves the body exposed to the virus or any other form of infections or diseases and this may result in the smoker likely to get severely ill from COVID-19. Even if the vaccine is given to smokers, it is still found that the immune response will be weaker than normal individuals.
How does smoking affect the COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness or fight the disease in general? Smoking causes damage and changes in the respiratory tract from cellular level. Due to these changes, the lung loses its protective ability and makes it prone to infection and inflammation. On top of that, smokers also may have a list of chronic diseases such as hypertension, heart diseases and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) which later can increase the risk of negative effects.
When the smoker’s lungs are damaged and COVID-19 virus infection is occurring on top of the damage, it can lead to severe lung infection and further damaging the lung tissues and at one point, the patient might need constant ventilatory support or worse, lung transplant.
Other than lung damage and a weakened immune system, smoking itself increases the risk of contracting the virus. This is due to the mask need to be taken off in order to smoke and this puts the person at increased risk of having the virus especially in confined spaces with the other smokers with unknown COVID-19 status.
Therefore it is advisable to the smokers to quit smoking as smoking itself kills and weakens the immune system. Other than that, nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) can be used to substitute nicotine in the cigarette and this can be used in smokers who wish to stop smoking. It is available in many forms and the nicotine will not damage the lung tissue. The pandemic itself is one of the reasons for someone to consider quitting smoking as smokers could get severe lung infection from COVID-19 disease compared to normal and healthy individuals.