PHARR, Texas — The National Institute on Drug Abuse reported Monday those who smoke, vape or battle with substance use disorders are at a higher risk of catching and transmitting COVID-19.

Doctors are advising users to quit or cut back on smoking to lower their chances of lung inflammation.

Researchers with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services say COVID-19 attacks the lungs and people with opioid and methamphetamine use disorders are classified at the same risk level as CBD and marijuana smokers.

Pulmonary Critical Care Specialist, Dr. Federico Vallejo, is a specialist with the South Texas Health System.

He says if confirmed COVID-19 cases increase, he would not be surprised to find a high mortality rate among those with damaged lungs.

“People that are chronic smokers with COPD for example or emphysema or bronchitis have a significant higher rate of mortality,” said Dr. Vallejo.

Whenever you have a desire to smoke, there are easy ways to cope. According to the department of health, here are a few simple ways to crush your cravings:

  • Keep your mouth busy by chewing on gum or peppermint.
  • Take deep breaths.
  • Take a short walk or a light jog. Bursts of energy can help you crush cravings.