COVID-19 has many people feeling stressed, alone, or worried about their health. It’s a lot to deal with if you’re trying to stop smoking or stay smokefree if you used to smoke. But not smoking (or using any tobacco products) is one of the best ways to protect and improve your health.
- This respiratory disease is caused by a new coronavirus.
- It easily spreads from person-to-person.
- Smokers may have a higher risk for more severe complications from COVID-19.
As a smoker, you or the people who care about you may be worried about a connection between COVID-19 and smoking. Scientists are still learning about the disease, but we know that smoking weakens the immune system, which makes it harder for your body to fight disease.
If you continue to smoke, you also have a greater risk for respiratory infections like colds and flu. And for those with heart or lung disease caused by smoking, you may be at higher risk of having severe illness from COVID-19.
But there is good news: Soon after you stop smoking your body begins to heal. Within the first few weeks and months, your lungs start to work better and your risk for a heart attack goes down.
It’s Always a Good Time to Quit
There has never been a better time to quit smoking. If you are thinking about or have returned to smoking, recommit to living without cigarettes. Quitting is not easy for most people, but there are things you can do to protect yourself and others during the COVID-19 pandemic:
- Learn about nicotine withdrawal. Common withdrawal symptoms include irritability, poor sleep, difficulty concentrating, or increased appetite. Sometimes people report that they feel like they have a cold or mild flu symptoms after they stop smoking. Call your doctor if you are concerned that you may have symptoms associated with COVID-19.
- Try a quit smoking medication. Consider using one or more of seven FDA-approved prescription and over-the-counter medications that can more than double your chances of quitting smoking. Your doctor can talk to you about which ones might be right for you and how to combine medications.
- Manage your stress and be kind to yourself. The stress and anxiety caused by the COVID-19 pandemic can cause you to slip and start smoking after you quit. If you do slip, don’t be too hard on yourself.
- Look out for signs of depression. It’s hard to cope with the way our lives have changed, and you may be feeling sad. Also, some smokers feel depressed after they quit. If you are thinking about hurting yourself, get help now by calling a free 24-hour crisis center at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-237-8255) or 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433) or dial 911. You can also chat with a trained counselor online.
- Don’t give up. If you had a slip or started to smoke again because COVID-19 is stressing you out, set a new quit date and try again. It takes most people many tries to quit for good.
- Learn about secondhand smoke and make smokefree rules at home. Don’t smoke in your home or in your car and don’t allow others to smoke in them either. Ask the smokers in your home to keep their cigarettes and lighters out of sight and to shower or change clothes after they smoke.
- Focus on the things you can control. COVID-19 has created a lot of uncertainty. Try to focus on what you can control right now instead of getting caught up in worrying about what’s next. Practicing mindfulness may help you stay focused or get through an urge to smoke.
Quit Smoking Resources
There are many free or low-cost resources that can help you quit while you’re at home. Begin by creating a plan and then try some other tools to see what works for you.
- Create a personalized quit plan to help guide you.
- Get 24/7 support with a text message program. Sign up for SmokefreeTXT online or text QUIT to 47848.
- Download a Smokefree app. Our apps help you learn how to quit, manage cravings, and track your quit journey.
- Visit Smokefree on social media. Stay connected and grow your support network.
- Talk to a quit coach. Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) to be connected to your state’s quitline. Trained counselors may be able to connect you with free or reduced-cost nicotine replacement therapy medications. Or call the National Cancer Institute Quitline at 1-877-44U-QUIT (1-877-448-7848) Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
- Chat with a quit smoking counselor. The National Cancer Institute’s LiveHelp service is available Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Eastern time. Also available in Spanish.
If you’re pregnant, visit Smokefree Women for tips on quitting while pregnant. Pregnant women may be at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 or could have worse pregnancy outcomes, such as preterm birth, if they have COVID-19. During pregnancy, it is always important for you to try to protect yourself from illnesses whenever possible.