May 6, 2020

Smoking, COVID-19 and our communities

ACON has put together some information about smoking during COVID-19. While smoking isn’t exclusive to sexuality and gender diverse communities and people living with HIV, we do tend to smoke more than the general population, and so it’s important for the smokers among us to stay informed as to what COVID-19 means for them in particular, and how to stay safe during this time.


Smoking and stress

Smoking is often a response to stressful events, and really, what’s more stressful than a global pandemic? If your smoking is a stress response, ACON has compiled some handy tips for managing stress in these stressful times. It’s important to not be too hard on yourself at the moment, and to set realistic goals.

It’s important to remember that you are capable of dealing with stress without having a cigarette. Take a walk, call a friend, try mindfulness, or take some time out with a cup of tea.


Smoking and COVID-19

COVID-19 is a respiratory illness, and as smoking damages your lungs, it can increase your risk of a more severe outcome from COVID-19 if you were to contract it. We know that smoking increases the incidence, duration and/or severity of infections from other respiratory viruses, and early data on COVID-19 suggests the same. Because of this, if you’ve ever thought about quitting, now might be a good time to try.


Support if you are hoping to quit

Quitting smoking will improve your response to illnesses like the coronavirus, but you need to make informed choices for yourself and your own mental capacity right now. Smoking is often a stress release, but it’s also a social activity. If you’re a social smoker, social distancing might be that break in your regular smoking routine that will help kickstart quitting.

If you’ve ever considered quitting, now might be the time to try if you feel like you have the capacity to do so.

If you’re thinking about quitting, ACON has some handy quick quit tips. Other useful resources for quitting include:

If you need support to quit smoking, you can get in touch with ACON’s substance support counselling service. They’re here to help.


Reducing the risk of COVID-19 transmission if you are smoking

If you are smoking right now, there are ways to reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19. One of the major ways to reduce the spread of the virus, according to NSW Health, is to avoid touching your face (with unwashed hands) as this can spread the virus from your hands to inside your body via your eyes, nose, or mouth.

Practice good hygiene to avoid spreading the illness. Don’t share your cigarettes, tobacco pouch (or papers, or filters), or joints with anyone else. Avoid rolling a cigarette for someone else, too. Wash your hands before and after smoking, and if you’re out in public, don’t touch anything else while you’re smoking.


This article is about reducing the harms and risk of COVID-19 transmission while smoking tobacco. If you smoke other substances, check out Pivot Point’s guide to crystal use during COVID-19, and NUAA’s guide for reducing harms associated with cannabis.