Researchers, who published their peer-reviewed findings in PLOS One, said they examined data on adults aged 18 and older who were hospitalized with COVID-19 in 107 hospitals across the United States from January 2020 to March 2021. Those who were identified as smokers reported their status to the hospital, and people were categorized as smokers if they smoked cigarettes or vaped with e-cigarettes.
Records were found for 4,086 people who smoked and for 1,362 people who didn't smoke, researchers said. They noted that there was no information about the duration of smoking or former smoking status.
Smokers were 45 percent more likely to die of COVID-19 and 39 percent more likely to be placed on a mechanical ventilator than those who didn't smoke, according to the study.
"Although the excessive risk due to smoking was independent of medical history and medication use," the news release said, "smoking was a stronger risk factor for death in people between 18-59 years of age and those who were white or had obesity."
Furthermore, smoking was associated with a greater risk factor for death in individuals aged 18 to 59 and among those who were white or obese, the study found.
“In general, people who smoke or vape tend to have a higher prevalence of other health conditions and risk factors that could play a role in how they are impacted by COVID-19," said the study’s senior author, Aruni Bhatnagar with the University of Louisville.
Bhatnagar suggested that anti-smoking campaigns around COVID-19 should be initiated because there is a "robust and significant increase in the risk of severe COVID-19" after the study's findings were released.
“Preclinical studies show that e-cigarette aerosols can damage lung tissue, cause inflammation, and diminish the lungs’ ability to respond to infection,” Dr. Nora Volkow said in April 2020.