On April 9, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, in conjunction with Massachusetts General Hospital, issued an advisory recommending that people try to stop smoking and vaping because doing so leaves them susceptible to a more severe response to COVID-19, which is primarily a respiratory disease.

The advisory, in English and in Spanish, can be found at www.mass.gov/doc/covid-vaping-advisory-english-and-spanish.

The health dangers of smoking have been well documented over the past 50 years. Respiratory problems caused by vaping came to light in 2019, when scores of American users developed what became known as EVALI (e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury).

The medical documentation on the relation between COVID-19 and smoking or vaping is not extensive, and the topic is certainly secondary to employing effective testing methods, alleviating symptoms, and producing a vaccine. A recent study in the European Respiratory Journal posits that a smoker has an increased amount of ACE-2 receptors in their lungs, which helps the COVID-19 virus gain entry into the body.

The study’s summary notes that active cigarette smoking boosts ACE-2 in lower airways, “which in part may explain the increased risk of severe COVID-19 in these populations. These findings highlight the importance of smoking cessation for these individuals.”

Smokers and vapers also may facilitate conveyance of germs, as they typically touch their hands to their face repeatedly while using these products. The vapor exhaled by smokers and vapers also may carry the virus responsible for COVID-19.

Members of MIIA’s Health Benefits Trust who would like to quit smoking or vaping may visit https://portals.selfhelpworks.com/wellaware/app2/#!/landing for cessation services. Members may access a new program, Truth Initiative, beginning June 1.

Other Massachusetts residents wanting to quit can contact the Massachusetts Smokers’ Helpline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW or https://ma.quitlogix.org.

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