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Quitting smoking could help you avoid COVID

Brad Williams



Doctors have warned for decades that smoking can be hazardous to your health. 

Now, they have another argument on their side–smoking, or vaping, could make you a greater target for COVID-19. 

Dr. Taylor Hays works in the Nicotine Dependence Center at Mayo Clinic in Rochester.  Hays says anyone who’s serious about quitting smoking has to find ways to change the routines associated with tobacco use, such as avoiding smoking if it’s part of your wake-up routine.    

Hays says studies show that smoking disrupts the hairs inside the lungs that can move mucus out of your system, which could allow the COVID virus to settle in the lungs and spread.   

A pulmonology nurse at Mayo in La Crosse, Jenny Prinsen, says a study in California showed that vaping and smoking sharply increase the risk of becoming ill from COVID.    

Prinsen says many people smoke in response to stress, and she argues that going for a cigarette should not be your first reaction in a stressful situation. 

Early in the pandemic, there was speculation that smoking could protect people from COVID, but Hays   doesn’t buy that.

“I told a friend of mine, if it turns out at the end of the day that cigarette smoking…is a protective device against COVID-19 infection or severe disease, I’ll eat my hat,” said Hays.

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.

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