An article has been circulating on the Chinese social media platform WeChat, claiming that smokers have been infected by novel coronavirus pneumonia far less than non-smokers, reported China Daily.
The article was originally posted on WeChat by the public account Yaojiang Yaoshuo Ketang. The article claimed that smokers were infected by novel coronavirus pneumonia at a much lower rate in comparison to non-smokers. The article based its claims on data published in a paper on clinical symptoms of patients infected with the novel coronavirus. According to the article, out of 1,099 patients surveyed, 927 were non-smokers, accounting for 85.4 per cent of the total. 21 patients had a history of smoking, accounting for 1.9 per cent, and 137 were smokers, accounting for 12.6 per cent.
However, China Daily also stated that many health experts have subsequently called the article a rumour that has been taken out of context. The President of the Beijing Cigarette Control Association, Zhang Jianshu, told China Daily that the article had taken advantage of public panic in an attempt to promote the tobacco industry. Zhang Ye, head physician at the pneumology department of Beijing Hepingli Hospital, stated that there have been no findings or data showing nicotine to have an anti-viral effect or to prevent infections. He also stated that, on the contrary, nicotine can weaken the immune system and cause respiratory problems as well as being damaging to general health.