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Richard Walker

Is Smoking Good for You?

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The modern consensus is no, but early in the pandemic there appeared to be evidence that smoking protected against Covid-19. This seemed surprising, but when dealing with an unknown quantity conventional wisdom might be overturned. Perhaps the smoke kills virus particles, it’s plausible.

Here’s a study that compared test-confirmed Covid rates among hospital patients who smoked and those who did not.


The article abstract concluded

“Conclusions and relevance: Our cross sectional study in both COVID-19 out- and inpatients strongly suggests that daily smokers have a very much lower probability of developing symptomatic or severe SARS-CoV-2 infection as compared to the general population.”

Should I resume smoking after all these years?

No. As discussed here


the correlation is likely to be an example of Berkson’s paradox, not a real effect.

Smokers are more likely than non-smokers to need hospital treatment for reasons that are unconnected to Covid. So if you test everyone on a respiratory ward, a smaller proportion of the smokers will have Covid relative to the non-smokers.

But the idea that smoking could protect against infectious disease, and confer other other health benefits is old.

“During the London plague of 1665 children were instructed to smoke in their schoolrooms; and in 1882, in a Bolton outbreak of smallpox, tobacco was actually issued to all the residents of a workhouse.”



Permalink 1 comment (latest comment by Richard Walker, Tuesday, 3 Nov 2020, 21:47)
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