Smokers face an increased risk of developing complications if they catch coronavirus, according to new data released by King’s College.
The data, published in Thorax journal on 6th January, found that smokers were more likely to develop more symptoms and to be hospitalised than non-smokers.
The Cancer Society of Finland is raising awareness of these dangers as well as other health risks caused by smoking, through a poster campaign.
Juha Heino, health director of the Cancer Society of Finland, said: “We see that there is no better time than now to raise discussion and help people to make the best decision to quit.”
The campaign was inspired by an internet trend which saw people cut holes in their facemasks so that they could smoke whilst wearing them.
The posters feature images of people wearing facemasks with holes burned into them, highlighting how this trend leaves smokers more vulnerable to contracting coronavirus.
The Thorax study suggests smokers have a greater chance of experiencing more a higher number of coronavirus symptoms.
However, it did not find that smokers are more at risk of dying from coronavirus than non-smokers.
The study was conducted between March and April and involved over 2.4 million users of the ZOE Covid-19 Symptom Study app, 11% of whom were smokers.
When users reported that they did not feel physically normal they were asked to answer a series of questions about what they experienced.
Results from the study showed smokers are 50% more likely to experience more than ten symptoms of coronavirus, including abdominal pain, delirium, and diarrhoea.
Additionally, smokers were more than twice as likely to be hospitalised due to complications from the virus.
Research also suggests smokers may be at an increased risk of getting coronavirus because they are likely to touch their face more frequently than non-smokers.
In the first months of the pandemic, some reports argued that smoking decreased a person’s chance of death from coronavirus.
More recent studies have shown this not to be the case, although it is still unclear if smokers are more likely to die from coronavirus.
Heino said smoking was a pandemic in itself, one less talked about than coronavirus.
In a normal year, eight million people die globally from smoking, more than double the number of coronavirus deaths since January 2020.
As coronavirus poses yet another health risk to smokers, the Cancer Society of Finland’s message is that quitting is now more crucial than ever.