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PHE - smokers at greater risk from coronavirus

Fresh has today welcomed calls from Public Health England for smokers to quit smoking to reduce the risks from coronavirus (COVID-19).


It comes as Public Health England today issued a statement that smokers are at greater risk of severe respiratory disease from COVID-19, and emerging evidence from China shows smokers with COVID-19 are 14 times more likely to develop severe respiratory disease.


Smoking tobacco is known to damage the lungs and airways causing a range of severe respiratory problems. The evidence clearly shows COVID-19 virus attacks the respiratory system, which explains why smokers are at greater risk. Public Health England are drawing attention to a small but highly impactful survey from China finds that smokers with COVID-19 are 14 times more likely to develop severe disease.


In addition, the repetitive hand to mouth movement provides an easy route of entry for the virus, putting smokers at greater risk of contracting COVID-19.


Ailsa Rutter OBE, Director of Fresh, said: "We welcome this compelling message from Public Health England and would really urge anyone smoking to give quitting a go now.


"Most people who smoke will have tried to stop before, but there has never been a more important time than right now. It is never ever too late and you're never too old. If you've tried before and didn't manage don't give up on quitting."


"It can often take a few times before you'll succeed and your body, including your lungs, will benefit immediately once you stop smoking tobacco. Stopping smoking will also protect loved ones around you from breathing in secondhand smoke."


Once smokefree, there are very real health benefits with the body continuing to repair the longer you stay smokefree. The more immediate benefits include:


  • after 48 hours carbon monoxide is eliminated from the body. Lungs start to clear out mucus and other smoking debris
  • after 72 hours breathing becomes easier as bronchial tubes begin to relax
  • after 2 to 12 weeks blood circulation improves, making physical activity like walking and running easier


For more information and links to tips and tools to help quit smoking, visit


Fresh is also supporting the Smokefree Action Coalition #QuitforCovid campaign on Twitter.