Smoking, Vaping, and COVID-19

Cigarette smoking is the number one cause of preventable death in the country and in New York State, killing nearly 28,000 adult New Yorkers every year and causing almost another 2,000 deaths among New Yorkers of all ages from secondhand smoke exposure.1 Lung disease is among the many illnesses and disabilities smoking causes. Smoking causes most cases of lung cancer and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), weakens the immune system, and increases the risk of respiratory infections.

Adults of any age who currently smoke or who are former smokers, as well as those living with certain underlying medical conditions that are often caused by smoking, such as cancer and COPD, are at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19. For more information, visit the CDC People with Certain Medical Conditions web page.

Quitting smoking may reduce your risk of developing severe illness from COVID-19. Using an FDA-approved medication, such as nicotine replacement patches, and treatment and support from your health care provider can improve your ability to quit for good by helping manage cravings and withdrawal from addictive nicotine.

There is growing evidence that vaping can damage lung health, and research is underway to determine if using e-cigarettes or other vapor products increases the risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Although some smokers may try e-cigarettes to quit smoking, there is no evidence they are effective nor are they an FDA-approved cessation product. In 2019, a national outbreak of lung injury associated with the use of e-cigarette, or vaping, products called EVALI occurred. Laboratory data found that vitamin E acetate, an additive in some THC-containing e-cigarette, or vaping, products, was strongly linked to the outbreak, but there may be other unknown causes. Vapor products are unsafe and untested. New York State strongly discourages the use of e-cigarettes and vapor products for any reason.

COVID-19 is yet another reason for people who smoke or vape to consider quitting to improve lung health and overall health and well-being. New York State is ready to help. Medicaid and other insurances cover quit counseling provided by your health care provider and quit medicines they prescribe.

For help quitting smoking or vaping:

  • Visit the free and confidential New York State Quitline online, call 1-866-NY-QUITS (1-866-697-8487), or text (716) 309-4688. The Quitline provides information, quit coaching, and, for eligible New Yorkers, free starter kits of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT).
  • Talk to your doctor or health care provider. Some offices offer telehealth or other remote visit options.
  • Talk to a local pharmacist for advice, including information about over-the-counter medicine options.
  • For help with quitting vaping, New York State teens and young adults (ages 13-24) can text "DROPTHEVAPE" to 88709 to join This is Quitting, a free and anonymous texting support program. Parents can text "QUIT" to 202-899-7550 to receive daily advice to help youth quit. Visit to learn more about this program.

Click on the links below for more information about:


  1. Global Burden of Disease Collaborative Network. Global Burden of Disease Study 2019 (GBD 2019) Results. Seattle, United States: Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), 2020.