Smoking Doubles the Mortality Risk in COVID-19: A Meta-Analysis of Recent Reports and Potential Mechanisms

Cureus. 2020 Oct 7;12(10):e10837. doi: 10.7759/cureus.10837.


Introduction Studies have reported conflicting results regarding the effect of smoking on outcome in coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) patients, but the results have been conflicting. In this meta-analysis, we systematically examined the association between smoking and mortality in COVID-19. Methods PubMed database was searched to look for relevant articles. Inclusion criteria were as follows: (1) cohort studies or case series studies; (2) study population included individuals with a confirmed COVID-19 infection; (3) the status of smoking was reported, regardless if it was current or in the past; and (4) mortality among smokers was reported in the study or could be calculated and compared to non-smokers. Mortality rates were pooled using a random effects model. Risk ratio (RR) and its 95% confidence interval (CI) were also calculated using the same model. Another meta-analysis was then performed to assess the difference in mortality between current and former smokers. Results Ten studies with a total of 11,189 patients were included. Mortality among smokers was 29.4% compared to 17.0% among non-smokers. RR was 2.07 (95% CI: 1.59, 2.69). Based on analysis of four studies (532 patients), there was no difference in mortality risk between current and former smokers (RR: 1.03; 95% CI: 0.75, 1.40). Conclusions Smoking, current or past, is associated with higher mortality in COVID-19 patients. Mortality among current smokers was about 50% greater than former smokers, but the difference was not statistically significant.

Keywords: covid-19; mortality; sars-cov-2; smoking.