Smoking increases the risk of death – healing practice

Long-term smokers are more likely to die from COVID-19

Smoking is known to be unhealthy. How exactly this affects the course of COVID-19 has not yet been adequately investigated. The analysis of a large American COVID-19 patient register now shows that long-term smokers are more likely to develop COVID-19 and die more often than people who do not smoke.

Cleveland Clinic researchers have been documenting all patients treated for COVID-19 in a Cleveland Clinic Health System hospital in Ohio and Florida since March 2020. The analysis of the data showed that people who smoke die more often from COVID-19 than people who do not smoke. This risk seems to increase with the intensity and number of years that people have smoked. The study results were recently published in the renowned specialist journal “JAMA Internal Medicine” presented.

Association between smoking and the course of COVID-19

According to the Cleveland Clinic’s COVID-19 registry analysis, smokers with COVID-19 are more likely to be hospitalized, transferred to an intensive care unit, and fatally more often than non-smokers with COVID-19. The doctors speak of an “unfavorable relationship between the cumulative smoke exposure and the outcome of COVID-19”.

The smoking years are crucial

The number of years that a person has smoked seems to be decisive for the associated risk. At the time of the analysis, the COVID-19 register comprised a total of 7,102 patients. Of these, 172 were active and 910 were former smokers. 341 people from this group smoked at least one pack of cigarettes a day for more than 30 years.

How high is the additional risk from long-term smoking?

Bottom line, the researchers calculated on the basis of the available data for people who have smoked a pack of cigarettes a day for over 30 years a risk of hospitalization due to COVID-19 increased by a factor of 2.25 and a risk of 1.89 increased risk of dying while having the disease compared to people who have never smoked.

Harmful effects of smoking worsen the prognosis

The doctors see a possible reason for this comorbidity in the damage to organs caused by smoking, which are mainly affected during a SARS-CoV-2 infection – in particular the lungs and the endothelium of the blood vessels.

Consequences of long-term smoking

Smoking also increased the chances of having a comorbid illness known as a risk factor for severe COVID-19. For example, 85.5 percent of long-term smokers at an average age of 71 suffered from arterial hypertension, 47.2 percent had COPD, 43.1 percent coronary artery disease, 32.3 percent heart failure, 30.8 percent or cancer a precursor of it and 22.9 percent asthma. (vb)

Author and source information

This text complies with the requirements of specialist medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical professionals.


Diploma-Editor (FH) Volker Blasek


  • Katherine E. Lowe, Joe Zein, Umur Hatipoğlu, et al.: Association of Smoking and Cumulative Pack-Year Exposure With COVID-19 Outcomes in the Cleveland Clinic COVID-19 Registry; in: JAMA Internal Medicine, 2021,
  • Deutsches Ärzteblatt: Smokers are more likely to die from COVID-19 (published: 01/26/2021),

Important NOTE:
This article is for general guidance only and is not intended to be used for self-diagnosis or self-treatment. He can not substitute a visit at the doctor.


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