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Smokers are at greater risk of COVID-19 complications, death than others: Experts.
Jay Hilotin & Samihah Zaman
Filed on 2021-06-01 | Last updated on 2021-06-01 03:51:42

Abu Dhabi: In the early stages of the pandemic, speculation emerged that tobacco smoking might prevent COVID-19 infection. It was an unproven claim efficiently weaponised to promote the tobacco industry based on pseudo science.
Following the study’s publication in July 2020, a massive Twitter discourse emerged on nicotine as potential prophylactic or therapeutic for the coronavirus. There was no rigorous clinical trial to back such a big claim. Instead, it was based on a cross-sectional study, the weakest form of "observational studies". Still, the claim went viral.
“Smoking increases the risk of severe COVID-19. This is possibly because smoke and the other substances mixed with tobacco impair the respiratory tract's defence systems, leading to reduced immune function and susceptibility to infection,” said Dr Saheer Sainalabdeen, specialist in respiratory medicine at Medeor Hospital, Dubai.
“Moreover, each individual has a specific lung function based on age, sex, height, and ethnicity, and any infection reduces lung function. For a smoker with already compromised lung function, the further fall secondary to COVID-19 infection will create the need for oxygen support, and even and other ICU ventilatory support,” he added.
In addition, smokers remove the face mask when smoking, which further contributes to the spread of COVID-19. Dr Sainalabdeen said COVID-19 worsens underlying lung diseases like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, making any COVID-19 infection more severe. “Smokers also live with heart diseases, which only worsen along with severe COVID-19 infection,” the doctor warned.
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