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COVID-19 Smoking FAQ

What is a coronavirus and COVID-19?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. COVID-19 is a new strain of coronavirus that has not been previously identified in humans.


Where can I get up to date information on COVID-19?

For information on COVID-19 please visit:




Who is most at risk of getting COVID-19 coronavirus?

For information on who is most at risk of getting COVID-19 visit:



Are people who smoke tobacco at greater risk of getting COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a new disease and there is not yet evidence that smoking increases the risk of infection. However, people who smoke are at greater risk of developing more severe symptoms from COVID-19.


Are people who smoke tobacco more likely to have severe COVID-19 symptoms?

Any kind of tobacco smoking (cigarettes, waterpipe, cigars, pipes and cannabis mixed with tobacco) is harmful to the body including the cardiovascular and respiratory systems. COVID-19 can also harm these systems. Information shows that people who have cardiovascular and respiratory conditions are at higher risk of developing severe COVID-19 symptoms. Smoking increases the duration and severity of viral infections, and so it is likely that it may increase the severity of COVID-19 symptoms.


What if I used to smoke but have quit?  Am I at increased risk of complications with COVID-19?

It’s not currently known if former smokers have a higher risk of becoming infected with COVID-19 compared to people who have never smoked. What is known is that quitting smoking is beneficial to health generally and could reduce the severity and improve recovery if you are infected, compared to if you were still smoking.


For how long do people have to stop smoking to reduce their risk of infection with COVID-19 or complications from COVID-19?

This is not currently known for COVID-19 specifically, but stopping smoking improves lung function and reduces the rate of lung infections, bronchitis and pneumonia.


Is waterpipe smoking a risk factor for COVID-19?

Smoking a waterpipe can have harmful effects on the respiratory and cardiovascular systems which could increase the severity of symptoms for people infected with COVID-19 who use a waterpipe.

Waterpipe smoking may increase the risk of transmitting COVID-19 because:

  • People often smoke waterpipe in groups and in public settings, putting people in closer contact to each other than is recommended
  • By sharing a waterpipe, there is an increased risk of passing on infectious diseases including COVID-19.


How can I reduce the risks to myself and others with waterpipe smoking?

The best way to reduce the risks from using a waterpipe to yourself and others is to stop waterpipe smoking. For support to stop call Quitline on 13 7848.


Can COVID-19 be transmitted via cigarette smoke?

COVID-19 is most likely to spread from person-to-person through:

  • close contact with a person while they are infectious or in the 24 hours before their symptoms appeared
  • close contact with a person with a confirmed infection who coughs or sneezes
  • touching objects or surfaces (such as door handles or tables) contaminated from a cough or sneeze from a person with a confirmed infection, and then touching your mouth or face.

Inhaling tobacco smoke causes the airways that move air to and from your lungs to become inflamed.  This irritation can cause people who smoke to cough more frequently than non-smokers. Coughing is a risk factor for the spread of COVID-19 if an infected person coughs. Coughing because of smoking does not mean that a person has COVID-19.  All people who have a cough should cover their nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing and sneezing or use their elbow, not their hands.


What should I do if I have a cough because of my smoking?

You should practise good hygiene by:

  • covering your coughs and sneezes with your elbow or a tissue
  • disposing of tissues properly
  • washing your hands often with soap and water, including before and after eating and after going to the toilet
  • using alcohol-based hand sanitisers, which are at least 60% alcohol concentration
  • regularly cleaning and disinfecting surfaces
  • if you are sick, avoiding contact with others and staying more than 1.5 metres away from people
  • avoiding handshaking and other physical greetings.


What are the risks for people living with lung disease or lung cancer?

People living with lung disease and lung cancer are at higher risk of developing more severe symptoms of viruses such as influenza and pneumococcal and the current COVID-19 outbreak.

Talk to your treating team about the best way to minimise your risk of contracting COVID-19.  For more information and links to resources about COVID-19 for people living with a lung disease or lung cancer, click on the Lung Foundation Australia website.


Q. Where can I get support to stop smoking?

The best thing you can do for your health is to stop smoking.

The NSW Quitline is a free and confidential telephone service offering advice and support to help you stop smoking. Quitline Advisors can help you with information about medications to help you quit smoking like using nicotine replacement therapy, such as nicotine patches, gum and mouth spray. Using recommended quitting medications can improve your chances of quitting successfully.  Most medications are available at a cheaper cost on script through your GP.  Talk to a Quitline Advisor to find out more.

Studies show that people who access support through the Quitline are more likely to quit for good.

Quitline Advisors are available:

  • Mon-Fri: 7am–10.30pm
  • Sat, Sun, public holidays: 9am–5pm

The Aboriginal Quitline is a culturally-sensitive, free and confidential telephone service providing customised assistance to help you with your quit smoking attempt. You can access the Aboriginal Quitline by calling 13 7848 and asking to speak to an Aboriginal Advisor.

If you require assistance in a language other than English, you can speak to a Multilingual Quitline Advisor in any of the following languages:

  • Arabic: الخط العربي للإقلاع عن التدخين   Quitline 1300 7848 03 (Monday and Tuesday 9 am to 7 pm; Wednesday 9 am to 5 pm; Sunday 9 am to 5 pm)
  • Vietnamese: Đường dây tiếng Việt về bỏ hút thuốc. Quitline 1300 7848 65 (Monday 10 am to 6 pm; Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday 9 am to 3 pm; Friday 8.30am to 2 pm)
  • Chinese (Cantonese/Mandarin): 中文戒烟热线 Quitline 1300 7848 36 (Cantonese: Wednesday 2 to 10pm, Thursday 3 to 10.30 pm, Saturday 9 am to 5 pm; Mandarin: Wednesday, Friday and Saturday 9 am to 5 pm).

Please note these hours are subject to change as required. For all other languages, a telephone interpreter service can be arranged.

Visit www.iCanQuit.com.au for more info, tips and tools to help you quit smoking.

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