The COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage unabated. Many countries are already into the second, third, and fourth waves, with governments continuing to implement social distancing measures and local or national lockdowns in an attempt to prevent the virus from overwhelming the federal and private healthcare systems.

Smoking is a significant risk factor for COVID-19 infections. Dr. James Gill explains why smokers are at risk of developing severe forms of coronavirus related illnesses like COVID pneumonia. He notes that “there are many interlocking factors as to why smoking reduces the body’s ability to fight an infection – from the ability to get oxygen from the blood into tissues, through to the increased levels of carbon monoxide in the blood.” Lastly, Gill reports that the most important reasons why smokers have an increased risk of contracting respiratory infections are because of the “impairment and death of the cilia in the airways and lungs.”

One of the benefits of the COVID-19 pandemic is that the number of people who are quitting smoking is increasing exponentially. July 2020 statistics quoted by the report that over one million people have given up smoking in the UK since the start of the novel coronavirus pandemic. However, many more people need to quit smoking.

In order to help those who still smoke quit, let’s consider some of the ways that smokers can use to quit smoking.

1. Vaping

Public Health England has released a statement that vaping is up to 95% less harmful than smoking. They conducted an experiment showing the amount of sticky tar accumulating in the human lungs from smoking: Juxtapositionally, the same amount of nicotine inhaled via vaping left a residue trace.

Consequently, Public Health England recommends that smokers turn to vaping using legitimate products sold by V2 to quit smoking.

The primary benefit of switching to vaping to quit smoking is that nicotine-based e-liquids come in several strengths. It is essential to start vaping an e-liquid that matches the nicotine intake as a heavy, medium, or light smoker. The next step is to slowly reduce the percentage of nicotine in the e-liquids vaped until 0% is reached. The now ex-smoker can decide whether to continue vaping or quit altogether.

2. Nicotine patches

The Mayo Clinic website defines a nicotine patch as a “small self-adhesive patch that releases a slow, steady amount of nicotine into the body through the skin.”  A new nicotine patch must be applied on a hairless area between the waist and neck.

As with the nicotine-based e-liquids, nicotine patches are available in different doses, are easy to use, and control nicotine cravings and withdrawal symptoms for 24 hours at a time. The good news is that they can also be used in conjunction with other mechanisms such as vaping to help the user quit smoking.

3. Prescription medication

Quitting smoking is hard, especially for heavy smokers who have smoked tobacco cigarettes for a very long time. And the traditional over-the-counter measures might not work for a few smokers. The good news is that there are two prescription medications, Bupropion and Varenicline, that reduce nicotine cravings and help with nicotine withdrawal symptoms. It is critical to note that taking this medication must be monitored by a medical professional who is qualified to prescribe them.

As an aside, Varenicline can be used with other aids to help quit smoking. However, it is essential to check with the prescribing doctor before taking up vaping or using a nicotine patch.

4. Nicotine lozenges

Nicotine lozenges act in a similar manner to throat lozenges, where a single lozenge is placed in the mouth between the gum and cheek, allowing the lozenge to dissolve slowly, releasing the nicotine into the bloodstream through the lining of the mouth. These lozenges are useful for controlling sudden nicotine cravings and withdrawal symptoms. However, they are not a long-term solution like the 24-hour nicotine patches, but they can be used together with other nicotine-based devices like vaping e-liquids.