You may be experiencing more worry and stress due to all the uncertainty of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and smoking might be something you do to help you cope.

We understand, although it’s important to know how smoking may affect your health and wellbeing.

You might think smoking helps stress, but it forces your heart to work much harder and stops your lungs from working properly.

You'll actually feel worse in the long term.

Your mental health

The coronavirus outbreak has changed daily life in Scotland and is having a real impact on how many of us are feeling.

It’s okay not to feel like yourself right now, though it’s important to look after your mental health too.

We have helpful information on mental health in our coronavirus pages.

Why stop smoking now?

Stopping smoking at any time is one of the best things you can do for your health.

You’ll feel the benefits almost straight away and will be in a better position to deal with any illness which affects your breathing and lungs.

Conditions like diabetes, breathing or heart conditions, as well as your age or using drugs which weaken your immune system, can worsen a coronavirus infection.

We also know people who smoke are more likely to suffer health issues which may require more regular visits to a hospital.

People who smoke are more likely to get more serious symptoms if they catch coronavirus.

Smoking is known to cause or considerably worsen breathing problems, including asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). It can also harm your immune system and heart.

Avoid spreading infection

Smoking cigarettes, joints, pipes and shisha as well as using e-cigarettes means hand-to-mouth contact is more frequent. This increases the risk of spreading germs and infection, including coronavirus.

Using nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products like inhalators, lozenges or gum may also increase frequent hand-to-mouth contact.

Always wash your hands before and after use and avoid sharing any products to prevent the spread of infection.

Stop smoking and feel the benefits straight away

The health benefits from quitting smoking are almost immediate.


  • 20 minutes – your pulse and blood pressure drop
  • 12 hours – toxins in the blood (known as carbon monoxide) drops to normal levels
  • 2 weeks to 3 months – breathing and circulation improves
  • 1 to 9 months – coughs and shortness of breath improve as lungs begin to recover, reducing the risk of infection.

If you want to stop

Stopping smoking at any time is one of the best things you can do for your health.

You'll be in a better position to deal with any illness affecting your breathing and lungs.

If you are quitting without any support from medication or NRT it's important you keep up the great work.

It's important to keep your hands busy to help you break the cycle of smoking. Think about starting a new hobby or activity.

There are a number of places to get help.

Your local Quit Your Way service offers specialist stop smoking support.

Quit Your Way Scotland’s national advice line is available on 0800 84 84 84 from 9am to 5pm (Monday to Friday) and can give stop smoking advice or advise you of your nearest Quit Your Way service.

NHS Inform has useful pages about stopping smoking or you could download Public Health Scotland's booklet on how to stop smoking. Other languages are available on request.

Your local GP and pharmacy service can also help. Give yourself enough time to get your prescription, they might be busy at this time, so you might need to leave a bit more time than usual.

Having a plan will give you a better chance of success. NHS Inform has online resources to help you create a quit plan.

Your GP practice and local pharmacy service can also help. They might be busy at the moment so allow a little more time for your prescription than usual.

If you're already trying to stop

It's important you keep going for the good of your health and there's plenty of help available.

If you're using or are planning to use local Quit Your Way services for specialist stop smoking support, check Scotland's Service Directory (SSD) for local information or call Quit Your Way Scotland’s national advice line on 0800 84 84 84 from 9am to 5pm (Monday to Friday).

If you start smoking again, remember people often take several tries before they manage to quit for good.

Stay positive – it will happen. Set up a personal quit plan for another attempt

Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT)

If you’re using NRT or Varenicline (Champix), you should still be able to get prescriptions and products as normal or, in some circumstances, delivered to your home.

To check if your local Health Board offer this service, visit Scotland's Service Directory or contact Quit Your Way Scotland free on 0800 84 84 84, for details.


If you're quitting using an e-cigarette, it's important you don't continue to smoke as using both is more harmful.

However, if you are quitting by using an e-cigarette, equipment and liquids are still available in supermarkets.

E-cigarette use will increase hand-to-mouth contact. Wash your hands before and after use and keep your e-cigarette clean to help stop the spread of infection.

Don't want to stop right now?

Smoking increases hand-to-mouth contact and can spread germs and infections, including coronavirus.

It's important not to share tobacco products such as lighters.

Coronavirus can survive on paper, plastic and metal surfaces. Make sure you wash your hands thoroughly before and after smoking.

Tobacco smoke is harmful to people you live with. Although the smoke disappears quickly, it leaves high levels of invisible and harmful toxins in the air for up to 5 hours afterwards.

Do what you can to prevent other people breathing in your smoke.

Consider forms of Nicotine Replacement Therapy such as gum, patches or lozenges to get you through, always washing your hands before and after use.

If you need to smoke, then it's best to take it right outside.

Lower the risk by smoking outside and always wash your hands afterwards. 

If it's not possible to smoke outside, only smoke in one room in your home, preferably one others don’t use. If you can, open a window for as long as possible during and afterwards.

Friends and family can help

If someone you know is thinking about stopping smoking, or trying to quit, stress brought on by the Coronavirus can make it difficult and they could start smoking again. 

Your support and encouragement at this time will really help.

If someone in your house is trying to quit, join them in activities that might help distract them from smoking.

If someone starts smoking again, reassure them it’s just a blip and people often take several tries before they manage it.

Encourage them to have another go.

Non-smokers are at risk too

Breathing in other people's smoke harms your health.

If you share a house with someone who smokes, ask them to think about smoking outside and suggest they wash their hands when they come back.

If this isn't an option, ask them to consider smoking in one room not used by other people.

If possible, leave a window open for up to 5 hours after they smoke to get rid of harmful toxins.