Quit for COVID

There has never been a more important time to quit smoking than right now. 

Evidence suggests people who smoke may be more likely to suffer from a serious respiratory infection than non-smokers if they get COVID-19.

Brighton & Hove City Council is joining the NHS, Public Health England, the Chief Medical Officer and The Association of Directors of Public Health in asking smokers to try to quit to protect themselves and others as part of the new #QuitforCovid campaign.

The benefits of stopping 

Stopping smoking offers immediate health benefits, including: 

  • After 8 hours carbon monoxide levels in blood reduce by more than half and oxygen levels return to normal. 
  • 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 lung function and blood circulation starts to improve, making physical activity like walking and running easier. 
  • After 3 to 9 months any coughs, wheezing or breathing problems will be improving as your lung function increases further.

Jo Congleton, Respiratory Consultant at the Royal Sussex County Hospital, said: “Smoking tobacco damages the lungs, weakens the immune system and causes a range of severe respiratory problems. Despite some confusing stories in recent times, evidence gathered in the UK suggests people who smoke are at increased risk from COVID-19. 

“As well as reducing the risks from COVID-19, quitting smoking quickly improves your circulation and your breathing. It also reduces the risks of other health problems such as heart attacks and strokes at a time when the NHS is coming under strain. 

“Once smokefree, there are very real health benefits with the body continuing to repair the longer you stay smokefree. In the longer term quitting is also linked to reduced depression, anxiety, and stress and improved positive mood and quality of life compared with continuing to smoke.”

It’s never too late to stop 

Alistair Hill, the city’s Director of Public Health said: “Our local Health Trainer Team is getting calls from smokers who are determined that they want to quit at this point in time. 

“Even if you've tried before and didn't manage it, don't give up on quitting because you can do it. Many smokers try several times before they succeed, but getting the right support and using stop smoking aids to help ease the cravings gives you a much better chance of success.

“There are financial benefits too – if you smoke 10 cigarettes a day, by stopping you could save more than £135 a month for you and your family.”

Get support to quit 

If you need more support, the council’s Health Trainers are continuing to offer behavioural support to smokers through telephone sessions. 

Richard Wall was smoking 20 a day or more. Now smoke free for 10 weeks, he said: “I'm really, really glad that I came across the Health Trainer Service. Now I am breathing better and can smell better. Smoking is a powerful addiction and it had a grip on me. Now it's no longer on my mind all the time. The smoking was controlling me but now I have got my life back. I am saving up the money I used to spend on tobacco for a holiday when the current COVID crisis is over.”

Isabelle Mouret has successfully quit after 30 years of smoking. She said: “The service made me accountable to myself. I was surprised how practical it was. It was exactly what I needed. The COVID crisis is definitely the right time to do it.” 

Ragi Mikhael used the local Health Trainer Service to quit three months ago. He said: “The adviser was so helpful and I'm very grateful for the support I received. I feel much better physically and psychologically. I was struggling with shortness of breath and a cough and now that is all in the past. I have already told friends who smoke to do what I did and ask for the advice and support. The service has good people who can help.” Mr Mikhael is now getting support from the council’s Health Trainer Team to help him improve his diet and increase his physical activity. 

For more information or to get help, contact the Healthy Lifestyles Team:

More like this

Image of a hand and the words Beat HIV

Time to Test

COVID-19 has given us a unique opportunity to reduce, and potentially stop, the onward transmission of HIV. But anyone at risk must get tested now before lockdown ends.