Smoking does not offer protection against coronavirus, but is a dangerous habit that leads to more than 8 million avoidable deaths a year, Cyprus’ National Addictions Authority warned on Monday.
The announcement following reports about the possible protective action of nicotine. Last week, media reports referred to a study by researchers at Pitié-Salpêtrière hospital in Paris which showed that smokers were less infected with the virus than other people. It also showed that nicotine could prevent the virus from entering cells.
Researchers warned nevertheless that smokers who did become infected with coronavirus would develop more severe cases of the Covid-19 respiratory disease it causes.
In its written statement, Cyprus’ National Addictions Authority said smoking is undoubtedly the number one public health problem worldwide. On a global basis, male smokers lose 13.2 years of their lives, and female smokers lose 14.5 years. At least half of the world’s smokers die early due to smoking.
Smoking moreover seriously affects the cardiovascular and respiratory system.
The Covid-19 virus can cause damage to the same organs and the damage caused to lungs, due to smoking, makes those affected by the Covid-19 virus more prone to viral lung infections (Guan et al., 2020), it said.
Research data from China, where the pandemic started, showed that people with cardiovascular and respiratory problems are at greater risk of serious symptoms of the virus (Lawrence et al., 2019).
Recent research data from independent researchers, says the following:
• Among those who were infected with Covid-19 and died, 9% were smokers compared to 4% of those who survived (Zhou et al., 2020).
• Among the serious cases of patients with Covid-19, 3.4 % were smokers and 6.9 % were former smokers, unlike light cases where no patient was a smoker and 3.7 % were former smokers (Zhang et al., 2020).
• In a population study of 1099 patients with Covid-19 it was found that among patients with severe symptoms, 16.9 % were current smokers and 5.2 % were former smokers, unlike patients with slight symptoms Where 1.8 % were current smokers and 1.3 % were ex-smokers. In the group of patients who either needed mechanical support, ICU or died, 25.5 % were smokers and 7.6 % were ex-smokers (Guan et al., 2020).
• Among patients with severe symptoms, 16.9 % were smokers and 5.2 % were former smokers, while the existence of a history of smoking was a factor of risk of disease evolution (Liu et al., 2020).
• Finally, a systematic review of the above studies for Covid-19 has come to the conclusion that smokers are 2.4 times more likely to be treated in the ICU, and / or need mechanical support or have increased chances of mortality compared to not smoking (Vardavas & Nikitara, 2020).
To the above can be added the announcement of the committee of experts of the ministry of health on smoking in Greece, which believes that the pandemic pandemic by the new coronavirus highlights smoking as a direct threat to human life and public health, as well as the findings of the European network for smoking and tobacco prevention (ENSP), in which the Cyprus authority has been participating as a full member since January 2020.
“In conclusion, it should be stressed that articles that directly or directly support the attempt to disconnect tobacco with the pandemic-19 pandemic are based mainly on cases that have not yet been established. In addition, any interconnection between the authors of each article with the tobacco industry should be taken into account,” it said.