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Docs Group Asks For Smoking, Vaping Ban

A study published in late February in the Chinese Medical Journal indicates those COVID-19 patients with a history of smoking or tobacco use are 14 times more likely to see COVID-19 symptoms progress as those who didn’t use tobacco.

The study is at the heart of an effort by the New York State Academy of Family Physicians to ban the sale of all tobacco and vaping products in New York state. Christine Schuyler, Chautauqua County health and human services director, said during a recent news conference that about 80% of the those who contract COVID-19 will have mild symptoms and recover at home. Among the remaining 20% who would likely need to be hospitalized are those with underlying health conditions, including the elderly, pregnant women or those who smoke.

Dr. Barbara Keber, state Association of Family Physicians president, said evidence is increasing that the link between tobacco use and worse symptoms from COVID-19 and called on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to draft an executive order banning the sale of cigarettes and e-cigarette products

“The American Academy of Family Physicians recently developed guidance stating that people who smoke or use vapes or e-cigarettes have a significantly higher risk of contracting respiratory infections like coronavirus,” Keber said in a news release. “People with decreased lung function caused by smoking or vaping are more likely to develop serious complications caused by infections.”

“Now more than ever, it is critical for the state and medical community to take actions to prevent our youth from ever using these highly addictive, deadly products and to help our patients to reduce their risks through FDA-approved cessation and telehealth during this pandemic.”

The latest study Keber refers to was published Feb. 28 in the Chinese Medical Journal and studied 78 COVID-19 patients in Wuhan, Hubei province, in China. The study found that two weeks after hospitalization, 14.1% of the patients’ condition had deteriorated and 85.9% had improved. The patients whose symptoms worsened had a higher history of smoking than the group that improved.

For all the 78 patients, fever was the most common initial symptom, and the maximum body temperature at admission was significantly higher in the progression group than in the improvement/stabilization group. In addition to the smoking link, the study found that age, maximum body temperature when admitted to the hospital, respiratory failure, levels of albumin and C-reactive protein all were factors that led COVID-19 symptoms to worsen.

“Further, given the clear evidence of elevated risk of COVID-19 and tobacco use, NYSAFP calls for a ban on the sale of all tobacco/vaping products during the pandemic period,” Keber said. “Bold, swift actions must be taken to protect our residents and we must follow the science which supports our call for a ban.”

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