A study published in the European Respiratory Journal last July argued that smoking is not associated with the risk of severe illness and hospitalization for COVID-19 patients, and the risk of infection in smokers is 23% lower.
After a while, it turned out that two of the study’s authors, Jose M. Mier and Konstantinos Poulas, had connections with the tobacco industry and withdrew this information from the editorial staff of the magazine. For example, Mayer advised tobacco companies on reducing the harm from smoking, and Pulas turned out to be the chief researcher of the Greek scientific center NOSMOKE, which received funding from tobacco manufacturers.
In the notice of withdrawal, the editors of the European Respiratory Journal noted that if the conflict of interest had been known from the outset, the article would not have been considered for publication.
“The European Respiratory Society, as a leading medical organization in the field of respiratory diseases, whose mission is to improve lung health and alleviate suffering from respiratory diseases, has bylaws that do not allow individuals with an ongoing relationship with the tobacco industry to participate in its activities,” – the message says.
Note that the study by Mayer and Pulas is not the only one that claimed that smokers are less susceptible to coronavirus. So, the analysis of medical records of almost 90 thousand patients with COVID-19 from Mexico showed that tobacco lovers are 23% less likely to become infected with coronavirus. And those who get sick almost never need artificial ventilation. In turn, Italian doctors reported that less than 5% of smoking patients required hospitalization. On the other hand, half of the sick smokers died, while in the group of hospitalized patients who did not have this habit, 35% died.
In June 2020, WHO published a review of peer-reviewed studies that, in one way or another, assessed the role of nicotine in disease severity, drawing a clear conclusion: smokers are at increased risk during a pandemic. The survey indicates that up to 18.5% of those hospitalized with COVID-19 smoke regularly.
Later, scientists from the University of California at San Francisco (The University of California), assessed the risk of a severe course of infection among, taking into account various factors, among young people 18-25 years old. It turned out that almost every third participant in the study (32%) from a medical point of view has an increased risk of serious complications and mortality from COVID-19 if infected. When the researchers excluded smokers from the analysis, the percentage of young people vulnerable to infection was halved to 16%.