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Cigarette Smoking and Risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection and Disease Severity Among Adults in an Integrated Health Care System in California

The relationship between tobacco smoking status and SARS-CoV-2 infection and coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) severity is highly debated. We conducted a retrospective cohort study of?>2.4 million adults in a large healthcare system to evaluate whether smoking is associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection and disease severity. This retrospective cohort study of 2,427,293 adults in KPNC from March 5, 2020 (baseline) to December 31, 2020 (pre-vaccine) included smoking status (current, former, never), socio-demographics, and comorbidities from the electronic health record. SARS-CoV-2 infection (identified by a positive PCR test) and COVID-19 severity (hospitalization, ICU admission or death???30 days of COVID-19 diagnosis) were estimated in time-to-event analyses using Cox proportional hazard regression models adjusting for covariates. Secondary analyses examined COVID-19 severity among patients with COVID-19 using logistic regression. During the study, 44,270 patients had SARS-CoV-2 infection. Current smoking was associated with lower adjusted rates of SARS-CoV-2 infection (aHR?=?0.64 95% CI: 0.61-0.67), COVID-19-related hospitalization (aHR?=?0.48 95% CI: 0.40-0.58), ICU admission (aHR?=?0.62 95% CI: 0.42-0.87), and death (aHR?=?0.52 95% CI: 0.27-0.89) than never-smoking. Former smoking was associated with a lower adjusted rate of SARS-CoV-2 infection (aHR?=?0.96 95% CI: 0.94-0.99) and higher adjusted rates of hospitalization (aHR?=?1.10 95% CI: 1.03-1.08) and death (aHR?=?1.32 95% CI: 1.11-1.56) than never-smoking. Logistic regression analyses among patients with COVID-19 found lower odds of hospitalization for current versus never-smoking and higher odds of hospitalization and death for former versus never-smoking. In the largest US study to date on smoking and COVID-19, current and former smoking showed lower risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection than never-smoking, while a history of smoking was associated with higher risk of severe COVID-19. In this cohort study of 2.4 million adults, adjusting for socio-demographics and medical comorbidities, current tobacco smoking was associated with a lower risk of both SARS-CoV-2 infection and severe COVID-19 illness compared to never-smoking. A history of smoking was associated with a slightly lower risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection and a modestly higher risk of severe COVID-19 illness compared to never-smoking. The lower observed COVID-19 risk for current versus never-smoking deserves further investigation. Results support prioritizing individuals with smoking-related comorbidities for vaccine outreach and treatments as they become available.

Authors: Young-Wolff, Kelly C; Slama, Natalie; Alexeeff, Stacey E; Sakoda, Lori C; Fogelberg, Renee; Myers, Laura C; Campbell, Cynthia I; Adams, Alyce S; Prochaska, Judith J

Nicotine Tob Res. 2023 Jan 05;25(2):211-220.

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