Publish 6 April 2021
Gasping For Air
Doctors and nurses struggle to get air into the lungs of COVID-19 patients. This is the case while some people intentionally reduce their lung capacity with a smoking habit.
You might single out lungs as the primary area of harm. But smoking affects several systems throughout your body. And you don’t get a reprieve for vaping or smoking cigars.
Breathing smoke into your lungs is unnatural. Beginners hold vapors in their mouths until they can keep it in their lungs without coughing. This is tantamount to breathing in smoke from a burning building or exhaust from an automobile. Peer pressure and status are primary reasons for enduring this uncomfortable feeling.
Assault on Your Body
As your lungs become accustomed to tolerating poison, an ingredient within cigarettes gets you hooked. Like most drugs, the addictive element that harms your body keeps you coming back. Within cigarettes and cigars, it’s nicotine. And that is just one of many carcinogens within tobacco. 
- Radioactive elements
- Hydrogen cyanide
- Tobacco-specific nitrosamines
- Carbon monoxide
- Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons
Pipes and cigars have a richer aroma and project a level of sophistication in cigar lounges. Garment manufacturers even make a jacket for them. You may not recognize that cigar smoke contains higher concentrations of toxic and carcinogenic compounds than cigarettes. 
The aerosols of e-cigarettes and other electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) can contain addictive nicotine, flavorings, and a variety of other chemicals.  Through vapor inhalation, ENDS does not include as many toxic cancer-causing ingredients. But they lack regulation or standards. The lower amortized cost of addiction does not make vaping healthy. [1,3]
Multi-System Nicotine Damage
Your pulmonology is not the only thing affected. Smoking can increase risk of lung cancer, heart attack, stroke, PAD, inflammatory bowel disease, preterm pregnancy, still birth, COPD, and death. [4,5] This means mortality results from failures in your respiratory system, cardiovascular system, digestive system, and reproductive system. By discoloring skin and nails, smoking affects your integumentary system.
The central nervous system, plays a role in addiction.  Smoking can also deepen your voice and dull your taste and smell.  This affects the otolaryngology system. What bodily system escapes the fumes of cigarette smoking?
You become oblivious to the smell of smoke in your car, home, and clothes. But it is pungent to non-smokers.
The clothing of a waiter at an Italian restaurant reeked of cigarettes. I could not hold my breath long enough to hear the blackboard specials. The manager sent him home and assigned another server to our table. Perhaps he returned another day, but imagine losing your job because of your odor. This is a reason for smoking restrictions in hotel rooms and rental cars.
Increasing COVID Dangers
COVID-19 patients with compromised respiratory systems do not fair well in hospitals. The virus attacks lungs that have been half cooked by smoking. Smokers appear to attract COVID-19 more than non-smokers.
Keeping hands away from your face is one way to reduce coronavirus infection. To puff cigarettes, fingers have frequent contact with lips. Poor lung capacity is a reason why wearing masks to prevent COVID-19 are so uncomfortable.
One study found that e-cigarettes suppress immune cells in your nose. They also destroy the cilia in your lungs.  Those who vape are 5–7 times more likely to contract COVID-19 than those who do not use e-cigarettes. 
These are all compelling reasons to quit smoking. Some go cold turkey, which means they abruptly stop buying cigarettes and going to places where others smoke. Other people try to wean themselves off with nicotine gum. According to the American Cancer Society, there is proof that smokeless tobacco products help smokers quit. 
Once the coronavirus clears the air, don’t replace it with another death-dealing vapor. Your doctor can help you enroll in smoking cessation classes so you can breathe better and longer. As a side benefit, you might even get your taste buds back.
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- Harmful Chemicals in Tobacco Products. cancer.org
- Baker F, Ainsworth SR, Dye JT, et al. Health Risks Associated With Cigar Smoking. JAMA. 2000;284(6):735–740. doi:10.1001/jama.284.6.735
- Vaping vs Smoking. vapingdaily.com
- Health Effects of Cigarette Smoking. cdc.gov
- The Link Between Smoking and PAD. azuravascularcare.com
- NDuke University Medical Center. Nicotine Activates More Than Just The Brain's Pleasure Pathways. ScienceDaily, 23 January 2009.
- Chéruel F, Jarlier M, Sancho-Garnier H. Effect of cigarette smoke on gustatory sensitivity, evaluation of the deficit and of the recovery time-course after smoking cessation. Tob Induc Dis. 2017;15:15. Published 2017 Feb 28. doi:10.1186/s12971-017-0120-4
- Coronavirus and Smoking. webmd.com
- Vaping linked to COVID–19 risk in teens and young adults. stanford.edu
- Main photo by Emre Kuzu from Pexels.
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