Smokers Gasp: The world just might go Cold Turkey

And I’ll bet smokers are terrified at the thought.  But the only people who should be afraid are those in danger of Initimate Partner Violence when smokers go through withdrawal.

Health experts from various medical bodies are recommending that not just people stop smoking because of COVID-19, but that tobacco companies cease production and distribution.  Possibly, permanently.  COVID-19 attacks the cilia in the nose and lungs, hence the very deep swabs into the nose.  Infected people can still get air into the lungs, but if the oxygen can’t get into the blood….

From the European Respiratory Society:

COVID-19, propelled by smoking, could destroy entire nations

Smoking is a risk factor for many diseases. COVID-19 is in a whole new class of its own (1). Many countries are just starting to come to terms with the fact that smokers are 14 times more likely to die from COVID-19 (2, 3), but few have issued warnings to quit smoking (4) and to our knowledge, no country has ramped up its tobacco control prevention measures. In the face of this pandemic we know of no country that has widely distributed free nicotine replacement therapy or cessation support drugs,

This is the cited article (2) in the text above, from the National Institute of Health:

Analysis of factors associated with disease outcomes in hospitalized patients with 2019 novel coronavirus disease.

From CTV:

COVID-19 seems to be hitting smokers more severely, scientists warn

TORONTO — With COVID-19 cases soaring, health care officials are trying to get ahead of the worst by looking at who is most at risk of ending up in the ICU and on ventilators if they catch the virus. High on that list is smokers.


Early research is showing that among people with severe pneumonia due to COVID-19 in China, 12 per cent of current smokers were admitted to an ICU, required ventilators, or died, compared to less than 5 per cent of non-smokers.

Dr. Neal Patel, a critical care specialist and pulmonologist with the Mayo Clinic says cigarette smoke damages tissues in the lungs.

“It destroys the cilia in the lungs … as well as in the nasal pharynx,” Patel said. He explained that “the cilia 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.”

From Reuters:

Experts urge smokers and tobacco firms to quit for COVID-19

LONDON (Reuters) – Health experts on Monday urged smokers to quit and cigarette companies to stop producing and selling tobacco products to help reduce the risks from COVID-19.

“The best thing the tobacco industry can do to fight COVID-19 is to immediately stop producing, marketing and selling tobacco,” Gan Quan, a public health specialist and a director at the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, said in a statement.


It said a study of more than 1,000 COVID-19 patients published in the New England Journal of Medicine in February found that smokers – both past and present – fared poorly, with smokers comprising more than 25% of those that needed mechanical ventilation, admission to an intensive care unit, or who died.

From CNN:

Now’s the time to quit smoking: It could increase your odds of beating Covid-19

“Every lung doctor in America will be preaching that everyone should quit smoking.” Dr. Brian Christman, a volunteer spokesman with the American Lung Association and a professor of medicine at Vanderbilt University, told CNN.


If you make the decision to quit, the cilia in your lungs are one of the first parts of your body to heal. These hair-like projections wave back and forth like a brush as air moves in and out of your lungs.

It’s not just medical professionals.  Tobacco companies are getting desperate.  Altria (aka Philip Rigor Mortis) has “temporarily” ceased production of tobacco in Virginia.  Good luck claiming this is “an essential business”.  From CSP Daily News:

Marlboro Maker Suspends Manufacturing Due to Coronavirus

RICHMOND, Va. — After learning that a second employee at its Philip Morris USA (PM USA) manufacturing center in Richmond, Va., had tested positive for COVID-19, Altria Group, the maker of Marlboro cigarettes, announced it will temporarily suspend operations at that facility for two weeks “out of an abundance of caution.” On the same day, the company notified the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that its chairman and CEO had contracted the coronavirus and is taking a temporary leave of absence.


In terms of its operational decision, PM USA has actively implemented business continuity plans and believes it has sufficient cigarette inventory for approximately two months based on current estimated shipping volume, in addition to current wholesale and retail inventories, officials said.

Altria is also bribing…I mean, begging and pleading for the FTC to get its money out of Juul before the latter company collapses.  The FTC is using the false pretense that Altria’s purchase of Juul “violated anti-trust laws”.  This was not about “competition and monopolies”.  From the FTC:

FTC Sues to Unwind Altria’s $12.8 Billion Investment in Competitor JUUL

Today, the Federal Trade Commission filed an administrative complaint alleging that Altria Group, Inc. and JUUL Labs, Inc. entered a series of agreements, including Altria’s acquisition of a 35% stake in JUUL, that eliminated competition in violation of federal antitrust laws.

“For several years, Altria and JUUL were competitors in the market for closed-system e-cigarettes. By the end of 2018, Altria orchestrated its exit from the e-cigarette market and became JUUL’s largest investor,” said Ian Conner, Director of the Bureau of Competition. “Altria and JUUL turned from competitors to collaborators by eliminating competition and sharing in JUUL’s profits.”


  1. blf says

    (Reconstructed cross-post from PZ’s current [Pandemic and] Political Madness All the Time thread here at FtB.)

    Although the unfortunate individual is an eejit (several times over), for some reason this story made me giggle, Smoker’s trek to Spain for cigarettes ends in mountain rescue (quoted in full):

    Frenchman found ‘exhausted and shivering’ after getting lost in Pyrénées

    A Frenchman caused a major alert this weekend after setting off across the Pyrénées to buy cheap cigarettes in Spain.

    The unnamed man had first left his home in Perpignan in southern France intending to drive to La Jonquera across the border, but was stopped by police at a checkpoint and turned back.

    Instead, he decided to walk across the mountains that separate the two countries, only to fall into a stream, then into some brambles before getting lost and deciding to call the emergency services.

    Mountain rescue teams sent up a helicopter and he was found “exhausted, shivering with cold and lost” above the border village of Le Perthus, according to rescuers.

    On their Facebook page, gendarmes in the Pyrénées-Orientales region said the “unfortunate” smoker was found quickly after phoning for help.

    “The young man left Perpignan by car but was turned back at the border posts between France and Spain as he tried to get to La Jonquera. So he decided to take a path used by walkers, hoping to cross the border in the mountains,” they added.

    After he was rescued, the man was given a €135 (£118) fine for breaking France’s coronavirus lockdown rules.

    “Once again, we remind you: STAY AT HOME,” the gendarmes posted.

    Before the lockdown, many residents of southern France would cross the border into Spain to buy cigarettes, alcohol and vehicle fuel, which are cheaper there.