Smoking and COVID
Last updated 29 July 2020
This page contains resources and information for professionals who are supporting smokers to quit.
If you are a smoker wanting to quit, the Today is the Day website has information and support. For specialist advice on quitting see QuitCast with our #QuitforCovid advisers Maggie and Louise. They also run a Twitter Quit Clinic. Tweet your questions using the hashtag #QuitforCovid or email firstname.lastname@example.org
COVID-19 and smoking
COVID-19 is a respiratory infection which can cause life threatening systemic inflammation and pulmonary and cardiovascular complications.
Public Health England guidance states that: “On the available evidence, we advise:
- if you smoke, you generally have an increased risk of contracting respiratory infection and of more severe symptoms once infected. COVID-19 symptoms may, therefore, be more severe if you smoke.
- stopping smoking will bring immediate benefits to your health, including if you have an existing smoking-related disease. This is particularly important for both you and for our NHS at a time of intense pressure on the health service.”
The evidence is clear that:
- Smoking remains the leading cause of premature death, killing nearly 80,000 people a year in England.
- For every person who dies from smoking, at least 30 people live with a serious smoking-related illness such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis.
- Current smokers are also 30% more likely to be admitted to hospital.
This is significant health information, which smokers have a right to know, and they need to be supported to take steps to quit or abstain from smoking. See our FAQs for more information on COVID-19 and smoking.
Supporting the Today Is The Day campaign
As healthcare professionals there has never been a more important time to support smokers to quit:
- to improve their health and wellbeing and help them stay out of hospital
- to potentially reduce the risk of poor outcomes if they are treated in hospital for COVID-19
- to protect others from secondhand smoke exposure in the home.
The evidence shows that COVID-19 is increasing smokers’ desire to quit. You have a key role to play in helping them take the next step and make a quit attempt, using the most effective methods to increase their chances of success.
The communications toolkit developed by ASH, Breathe 2025, Fresh and partners is designed to help you. Email email@example.com for the ‘Today Is The Day’ communications toolkit with key messages, template press releases and content suggestions.
You can use the Today Is The Day messages to help promote your local stop smoking support and ensure smokers are aware of the options available to them. Use the hashtag #TodayIsTheDay on Twitter and promote information about local support through Facebook pages to reach smokers and other local healthcare professionals.
Quit For Covid: Today Is the Day Campaign Case Study Resources for Local Areas to Use
We have created an updated supporters pack which is centred around 8 inspiring case studies outlining their successful quit stories over the last few months. Thanks go to Breathe2025, Fresh and Yorkshire Smokefree for sourcing the case studies. We’re still keen to get further case studies especial from more diverse backgrounds and for local areas to develop their own case studies. If you can help please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
The new resources for the Today is the Day campaign builds on the Quit for Covid activity, looking ahead to recovery from the pandemic and helping build population health resilience as we head towards winter.
The pack contains a range of media for online and offline use, including:
- A3 posters (both internal and professional print)
- Digital banners for e-newsletters and websites
- Pull up banners for physical spaces
- Email signatures
- Social media graphics
Download the pack here.
See how local authorities are adapting their stop smoking services to continue providing specialist support for smokers.
Article 5.3 guidance: responding to the tobacco industry in the light of COVID-19
Big Tobacco is using the COVID-19 outbreak to try and engage public authorities and promote itself as a socially responsible industry.
Under Article 5.3 of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) public authorities are required to protect public health policies with respect to tobacco from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry.
ASH has developed guidance to advise public bodies on how best to respond to approaches and offers from the tobacco industry during the COVID-19 outbreak.
- See the Today is the Day website and Twitter page for information about where smokers can access support to quit
- The NHS Smokefree website which includes information on support to quit, as well as free tools such as the Personal Quit Plan as well as daily support via email or Facebook messenger.
- NCSCT guidance on protecting smokers from COVID-19
- ASH press release: A million people have stopped smoking since the COVID pandemic hit Britain
- SFAC press release: Around 300,000 smokers have #QuitforCovid: Over half a million more have tried to quit and 2.4 million have cut down