Fact Checking: Smoking, vaping could make COVID-19 worse

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - KCRG-TV9's i9 Investigative Team is checking rumors and speculation circulating about the Coronavirus.

A popular rumor from our viewers claims people who smoke or vape are more likely to contract COVID-19.

Early studies of patients in China have found people who smoke are more likely to have severe cases of COVID-19.  Dr. Nora Volkow, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse with the National Institutes of Health, wrote that many people with a past or current substance abuse issue may face higher risks from the outbreak because of the damage to lungs.


"It is therefore reasonable to be concerned that compromised lung function or lung disease related to smoking history, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), could put people at risk for serious complications of COVID-19," Dr. Volkow wrote.


“Given what we know now, it is very likely that people who are exposed to more air pollution and who are smoking tobacco products are going to fare worse if infected with covid than those who are breathing cleaner air, and who don’t smoke,” Aaron Bernstein with Harvard's director for the Center of Climate, Health, and the Global Environment told the Washington Post.


While we could not find any studies on the current COVID-19 to determine whether smoking also makes you more likely to get the virus, we can look at studies of other coronaviruses.

A study of the SARS outbreak in China, also a form of coronavirus, found a correlation with air pollution, including smoking, to higher rates of the disease. Smaller studies of the MERS coronavirus in the Middle East found  "smoking and heart disease were also significantly associated with MERS-CoV illness."

So while there is no direct studies of this coronavirus and the impacts of smoking, there is a lot of evidence to suggest that this rumor is likely true.

Send us the rumors and speculation you see and we'll check it out.  Message the KCRG Facebook page or email Questions@kcrg.com.