The World Health Organization warned in a statement released today that a review of studies by public health experts convened by WHO last month found that smokers are “more likely to develop severe disease with COVID-19, compared to non-smokers.”
WHO noted that smoking impairs lung function and makes it more difficult for the body to fight off coronaviruses and other diseases.
Tobacco smoking is a known risk factor for many respiratory infections and increases the severity of respiratory diseases.
“Tobacco is also a major risk factor for noncommunicable diseases like cardiovascular disease, cancer, respiratory disease and diabetes which put people with these conditions at higher risk for developing severe illness when affected by COVID-19,” WHO said in the statement.
Some context: Tobacco kills more than 8 million people globally every year. More than 7 million of these deaths are from direct tobacco use and around 1.2 million are due to non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke, according to WHO.