FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA21) -- If you smoke or vape, new research is finding that you may be particularly vulnerable when it comes to the coronavirus.
"Both smoking and vaping cause inflamation in the lungs, and it's actually inflaming the lining of the lungs which is exactly where the COVID-19 virus attacks," says Tobacco Free Allen County's Nancy Cripe.
When the coronavirus attacks the respiratory system, in severe cases it leads to acute respiratory distress syndrome, or ARDS.
COVID-19 patients with ARDS are typically put on ventilators, and are the most likely to die.
And according to new studies in China, South Korea, and the United States, smoking was found to more than double the odds of disease progression in people who had already developed COVID-19.
The FDA now says not only are smokers and vapers at higher risk of having more severe cases of the coronavirus, they're also more likely to get it in the first place.
"If you're smoking or vaping, you're doing this all the time. You're constant hand to mouth. So if anything's on your hands, any virus is on your hands, we're doing exactly what we're not supposed to be doing, bringing your hands to your mouth and to your face," Cripe says.
She says smokers and vapers also have a greater potential to spread the virus.
"That deep breathing in and exhaling hard, certainly at greater risk of spreading it to others," Cripe adds.
"Kind of scary for a lot of people that smoke, but I think at this time people should try to refrain from it the best that they can. If they do so, maybe stay at home if they're higher at risk, try to isolate the best you can," nonsmoker Jake Chelf says.
"It's not good for you, either way, but I don't think that I'm at increased risk by any means. So it won't make you stop smoking or cut down on smoking? Probably not," says smoker Nick Richardson.
However, anti-tobacco and -vaping groups say since the coronavirus curve has not flattened -- and the risk to your health is so much higher -- if you've ever thought about quitting, now is the time.
Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW for free coaching, nicotine replacement materials, and information.