A study in France recently claimed that hospitals in the country were seeing fewer smokers than non-smokers among COVID-19 patients. It concluded that nicotine in cigarettes has a protective effect against the novel coronavirus.
However, France has now banned online sales of nicotine. The French government placed a ban on sales of nicotine replacements, such as nicotine gum and patches, and directed pharmacies to limit the amount they issued per person, the Business Insider reported.
The restrictions were placed to prevent health risks associated with “excessive consumption or misuse in the wake of media coverage,” and to maintain an adequate supply for people looking to quit smoking.
Several experts have already cautioned about reaching conclusions based on a single study.
The US Food and Drug Administration stated that cigarettes increase the chances of people getting COVID-19, the Bloomberg reported.
“Smokers are likely to be more vulnerable to COVID-19 as the act of smoking means that fingers (and possibly contaminated cigarettes) are in contact with lips, which increases the possibility of transmission of virus from hand to mouth,” the World Health Organisation says.
“Smokers may also already have lung disease or reduced lung capacity which would greatly increase risk of serious illness.”
A study that reviewed all studies carried out in China on the link between smokers and COVID-19 says smoking is most likely associated with adverse outcomes of COVID-19.
“The smokers were 1.4 times more likely to have severe symptoms of COVID-19 and approximately 2.4 times more likely to be admitted to an ICU, need mechanical ventilation or die compared to non-smokers,” it said.