The U.S. Food and Drug Administration made another revision on the risks of the coronavirus and nicotine, saying smokers have an increased risk of catching the virus.
“People who smoke cigarettes may be at increased risk of infection with the virus that causes COVID-19, and may have worse outcomes from COVID-19,” the agency said in an emailed response to a question from Bloomberg News.
The FDA said earlier this month that smokers may have worse outcomes from coronavirus, but weren’t definitive on whether the chances of catching the virus were increased due to smoking. There are currently more than 1 billion smokers around the world and 41 million people who vape. Since the outbreak started late last year, there have been varying guidance on the virus’s potential threat from public health agencies.
Cigarette manufacturers believe smokers should look to governmental health authorities and medical professionals for advice.
“Nicotine and tobacco products are not risk-free, and the best thing anyone can do is to quit altogether. Those who do not quit smoking should consider switching to regulated smoke-free alternatives to cigarettes, such as e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products,” Philip Morris spokesman Corey Henry said in a statement.
Because the virus is young and relatively unknown, regulators and researchers have been pouring through old data on how smoking affects those with the flu, bronchitis, and pneumonia. Scientists are also tracking data on how vapers are affected by the coronavirus.
The FDA noted in its April 14 statement that cigarette smoking “causes heart and lung diseases, suppresses the immune system, and increases the risk of respiratory infections.”
In early March, the FDA said vaping and smoking only posed a higher risk for the coronavirus in people who had underlying conditions.
For African American smokers, the news only adds to the issues they’ve faced since the outbreak began. African Americans are already more likely to contract and succumb to the coronavirus at a faster rate than other races. Additionally, the economic turmoil the virus created is also affecting African Americans more than other races.