Individuals who smoke are more likely to be hospitalized after a COVID-19 diagnosis and are almost two times more likely to die after a COVID diagnosis, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

“This new study provides another reason for people who smoke to consider quitting,” said Dr. Brian Williams, board member for the Tobacco-Free Dane County Coalition. "Smoking damages the lungs and weakens the immune system, which puts people who smoke at risk for worse health outcomes from COVID-19."

In addition to getting sicker from COVID-19, people who smoke also face a greater risk for lung disease by damaging your airways and the small air sacs (alveoli) found in your lungs. Lung diseases caused by smoking include COPD, which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis. According to the Surgeon General, smokers are 12 to 13 times more likely to die from COPD than nonsmokers.

Here in Dane County, the Tobacco-Free Dane County Coalition is taking action to address tobacco use and disparities by partnering with community organizations including schools, educating elected officials about tobacco-related best practice policies, and working with youth.

“The Coalition is committed to addressing tobacco use in Dane County, especially among African Americans and LGBTQ+ populations,” said Lauren Cnare, Chair for the Tobacco-Free Dane County Coalition. “In addition to the work we’re doing in our community, there are also free resources to help people quit smoking or using tobacco products.”

People who smoke or use tobacco products can call 1-800-QUIT NOW (784-8669) for free help, and individuals on Medicaid can also talk to their doctor about the free support offered through the Medicaid Cessation Benefit.

For more information on tobacco prevention efforts in Dane County or to get involved locally, visit the Tobacco-Free Dane County Coalition at www.tfcdc.com.

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