Can I Get Coronavirus From Secondhand Smoke?

In our series "What's the Risk?" experts weigh in on what risks different scenarios pose for transmitting COVID-19.
Posted at 9:37 AM, May 27, 2020

When it comes to getting sick with COVID-19, you might be thinking about this, and we have too. Jeffrey Wisniewski  asked: 

“What is the risk of catching COVID-19 from secondhand smoke or vaping?”

We asked the experts: Dr. Frank Esper, a Pediatric Infectious Disease Specialist, The Cleveland Clinic; Katie Cary, vice president of infection prevention for HCA Continental Division; and Dr. Nipunie Rajapakse, a Pediatric Infectious Diseases Physician at the Mayo Clinic.

Their take: Contracting COVID-19 from secondhand smoke or vaping is medium risk. 

"What you don't see is all the little micro-droplets, all the little small water particles of sputum or phlegm that get thrown into the air every time they do a cough or sneeze or maybe even a vigorous exhale," Esper said.

"You could potentially be at higher risk for COVID if your lungs were compromised as a result of smoking or vaping. So higher risk of complication, but you're not necessarily going to catch COVID from secondhand smoke or vaping," Cary said.

"Theoretically, if someone were breathing out a large amount of virus and you were in very close contact with them, it would be possible. I think the bigger risk obviously would come from if you were sharing cigarettes or e-cigarettes or other vaping devices with someone who was infected for sure, you could get infected by doing that. And so we would recommend people not to share those types of things. In fact, it seems like a really great time for people to quit smoking," Rajapakse said.

If you have a question about your risk, send us a video to You can see answers to other questions here