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Why now is the perfect time to stamp out cigarettes for good

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Is quitting smoking something you’ve wanted to do for a while Well, there’s never been a better time to give up. 

COVID-19 has made us focus on what really matters: our family, friends and our health. There is added motivation to quit right now to reduce the risk of getting coronavirus.

Smoking is a known risk factor for all acute respiratory infections – including coronavirus. These infections can also be more severe in people who smoke. 

Quitting smoking helps build your natural resistance to all types of infections including coronavirus and all types of flu.

When you stop, the natural hairs in your airways (cilia) begin to work again.

Within 1 to 2 days, the oxygen levels in your body will improve. Your blood pressure and pulse reduces, which in turn decreases the overall stress on your body. 

All these things are good defences against coronavirus.

If you manage to stay off cigarettes for 28 days, you’re five times more likely to stay off them for good.

The HSE Quit programme offers free support, help and advice whatever stage you’re at. Their Quit Advisors are on hand to help you through even the most difficult times. 

How smoking increases your risk 

Weakened heart and lungs

Smoking affects the function of your heart and lungs making it harder to respond to an acute infection, like flu or coronavirus.

Touching your face

Coronavirus is spread in sneeze or cough droplets. To infect you, it has to get from an infected person's nose or mouth into your eyes, nose or mouth. This can be direct or indirect (on hands, objects, surfaces). 

Everyone is being advised to stop touching their face. But if you smoke, you are more likely to touch your face, especially your mouth. This increases your risk of becoming infected.

Second-hand smoke

Smoking indoors puts those closest to you at risk. Exposure to second-hand smoke affects the body’s natural ability to fight infections such as coronavirus.

Children are especially vulnerable to second-hand smoke. This is because they breathe more rapidly and their lungs, airways and immune system are still developing. 

The best way to avoid increasing your risk and to protect others is to stop smoking. 

For advice on how to do this, go to and set up your own personalised Quit Plan, or join the HSE Quit community on Facebook.

Here is what our Quit Leaders had to say about how they have found quitting:

page last reviewed: 13/07/2020
next review due: 13/07/2023

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