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Quit Smoking to Boost Your Immune System

April 10, 2020
Published in: Cancer, COVID-19

Woman holding her hand up to refuse a cigarette

It's always a good time to stop smoking, but the current COVID-19 outbreak adds an even greater sense of urgency. COVID-19 is a lung disease, and for those who become seriously ill or die from it, respiratory failure or significant lung damage is common. The lungs are most susceptible to the virus and the cascade of events that follow a viral infection of the lungs.

Smoking harms the immune system and makes the body less successful at fighting lung diseases. But, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are a number of ways that lung health can improve in just days or weeks after quitting smoking.

For example, the cilia in the lungs are one of the first parts of your lungs to heal after quitting. Cilia resemble tiny hairs, and they wave back and forth as air moves in and out of your lungs. They help fight off infection and clear mucus from the lungs—which is key to keeping your lungs in the best shape possible to fight COVID-19. Another short –term impact of quitting smoking is reducing inflammation in your body. This can help boost your immune system.

Here's some practical advice to help you quit smoking now:

  • Find a quit partner: It helps to have a buddy who is also trying to quit. You can encourage and support each other during stressful times.
  • Talk to your doctor: Healthcare providers can prescribe medication aids to quit smoking if needed and be a great resource of information.
  • Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW: This phone line is operated by the National Cancer Institute and will connect you to a Tobacco Quitline.
  • Visit the Augusta Health webpage on Smoking Cessation