Researchers find correlation between smoking history and COVID-19 severity

Physicians wear protective equipment in a critical care setting.

In a research letter published in JAMA Internal Medicine, physicians from the Cleveland Clinic shared an analysis from a patient registry that found cigarette smoking correlated with a higher number of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths.

Out of 7,102 patients included in the review, 6,020 had never smoked, 910 were former smokers, and 172 smoke. The researchers concluded that cumulative smoking history, measured by pack years of smoking, may be a risk factor for severe COVID-19 outcomes. Compared to patients who had never smoked, patients who smoked the most – the equivalent of smoking a pack of cigarettes a day for more than 30 years – were twice as likely to be hospitalized for COVID-19. Heavy smokers also had a greater chance of dying from COVID-19, compared to patients without a smoking history. The study was funded by the NHLBI.