(KMOV.com) - COVID-19 is known to attack a person's lungs, and one of our best defenses against that is to make sure they're strong and healthy in the first place, and for many, that starts by stopping smoking.

While scarring to your lungs can't be reversed, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says there are several short term benefits when you quit smoking.

One of the first things to heal is the cilia in your lungs.

"Celia are tiny hairlike follicles that help to trap damaged viruses debris and move that debris upwards out of your lungs, so it doesn't stay there and cause issues," said Dr. Neal Patel, a pulmonary and critical care specialist at the Mayo Clinic. "So it acts as one of the main defense mechanisms against infection. So without that, smokers are a little defenseless."

When you quit smoking, you are also helping to reduce the inflammation on your lungs, allowing you to take deeper breaths and not get as easily winded.

"People who have pre-existing lung conditions, preexisting respiratory conditions, such as COPD or Cystic Fibrosis, may have existing issues there because of smoking," said Christopher Stobart, an assistant professor of biology at Butler University.

According to medical experts, non smokers can also be impacted because if a smoker is infected with COVID-19, it is possible the smoke the individual breathes out can carry the virus

If an individual is close to a person smoking who has the virus, he or she could breathe in that same smoke. The same goes for vaping. Smokers are breathing in and exhaling out whatever his or her body is carrying.

Because of damage to a smoker's lungs, they could become sicker for a longer period of time.

Doctors are also warning that if a neighbor smokes, make sure to close windows to block the smoke from coming into your home.

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