Smokers up to six times more likely to die from Covid than non-smokers - study

27 September 2021, 23:51 | Updated: 27 September 2021, 23:53

Smokers are more likely to be hospitalised and die with coronavirus than non-smokers
Smokers are more likely to be hospitalised and die with coronavirus than non-smokers. Picture: Alamy

By Daisy Stephens

Smokers are up to six times more likely to die from Covid-19 than non-smokers, according to new research.

The research, led by Oxford University, also found that smokers are 80 per cent more likely to be admitted to hospital with the virus.

"Our results strongly suggest that smoking is related to your risk of getting severe Covid, and just as smoking affects your risk of heart disease, different cancers, and all those other conditions we know smoking is linked to, it appears that it's the same for Covid," said leader researcher Dr Ashley Clift.

"So now might be as good a time as any to quit cigarettes and quit smoking."

Experts said that up until now there has been conflicting data on the extent to which smoking affects the risk of hospitalisation from Covid-19.

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The study suggested that your vulnerability to severe Covid varies depending on how heavy a smoker you are.

People who smoked one to nine cigarettes per day were twice as likely to die from coronavirus, whilst those smoking 10 to 19 cigarettes a day were almost six times more likely to die.

And people who smoked more than 20 a day were over six times more likely to die than people who had never smoked.

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The authors concluded that their "results from two analytical approaches support a causal effect of smoking on risk of severe Covid-19".

In an editorial accompanying the research, Dr Anthony Laverty and Dr Christopher Millett of Imperial College London said: "A respiratory pandemic should be the ideal moment to focus collective minds on tobacco control."

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The study was published in the journal Thorax.

It was the first of its kind to look at both observational and genetic data on smoking and coronavirus.

Researches looked at primary care records, Covid test results, hospital admissions data and death certificates of 421,469 people.

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Out of the participants, 1,649 tested positive for coronavirus, 968 were admitted to hospital and 444 died with the virus.

Most of them had never smoked, over a third were former smokers and four per cent were current smokers.

Genetic analysis showed that among those genetically more likely to smoke, there was a higher risk of Covid infection and hospital admissions.