COVID-19 is an upper respiratory disease that attacks the lungs. According to the Mayo Clinic, the respiratory infection caused by COVID-19 is being called severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). Symptoms can include shortness of breath, difficulty breathing and cough. People who smoke combustible cigarettes or use electronic vapor products are at higher risk for having respiratory complications from COVID-19. The act of smoking or vaping is rather unsanitary because it involves repeated hand-to-mouth actions which can be associated with increased spread of viral germs. A person who vapes brings the electronic vapor device in contact with his mouth many times in one day; therefore exponentially increasing the chance of spreading the virus from one’s personal mucus to the outer environment. Years of medical research tell us that all forms of nicotine use result in compromised immune systems. When considering the side effects of vaping and smoking we know the mucus production and coughing will be exacerbated with COVID-19. A recent study from the University of North Carolina suggests that vapor exposed mice are more susceptible to both viral and bacterial infections, whereas COVID-19 being a viral infection should be included in this conclusion. The New York Times cited a recent study from the New England Journal of Medicine where Chinese coronavirus patients who smoked were found to be twice as likely as those who didn’t to have severe infections from COVID-19. Research from previous coronavirus outbreaks has provided scientists with information about how the disease enters the human body. COVID-19 binds to a receptor called ACE-2, which is a protein nestled on the surface of cells throughout the body, including in the upper and lower respiratory tracts. The novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), must plug into the ACE-2 receptor in order to inject its genetic material into cells, replicate and spread. Research suggests that the lungs of cigarette smokers (and presumably electronic nicotine device users) accumulate abnormally large numbers of ACE-2 receptors, which may leave the lungs highly vulnerable to excessive damage once infected with the coronavirus. While the COVID-19 outbreak has certainly changed many aspects of our daily lives perhaps this is a great opportunity for you or a loved one to stop smoking or vaping. Please visit www.metrodrug.org or call 1-800-QUIT-NOW for smoking and vaping cessation support.