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Should tobacco product sales be banned during the COVID-19 pandemic?
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There are calls from some health groups for limits, or outright bans, on tobacco products to help reduce the risks of complications due to COVID-19. Some medical experts think that smoking and vaping can make symptoms worse.
One early scientific study indicates that COVID-19 patients in China were more than twice as likely to get severe infections if they were smokers.
Smoking also means repeatedly bringing your hand to your mouth, when we’re all being cautioned not to touch our faces.
The New York State Academy of Family Physicians has called for a ban on sales of tobacco and e-cigarettes during the pandemic. The International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease has increased its push for an end to sales.
“This is really the best time for governments to take action and to force the tobacco industry to stop selling tobacco in their countries,” the union’s Dr. Gan Quan said.
Around 34 million people in the U.S. smoke cigarettes. Dr. Michael Siegel at the Boston University School of Public Health agrees that quitting smoking and vaping will have positive health benefits, but says says a ban could have unwanted consequences.
“You really do have a danger of a black market developing,” he said. “To me that is the main obstacle to prohibition, honestly. Not the economic consequences to the tobacco companies.”
The National Association of Tobacco Outlets did not have a comment at this time.
Correction (April 13, 2020): An earlier version of this story misspelled Quan’s name.
COVID-19 Economy FAQs
Are states ready to roll out COVID-19 vaccines?
Claire Hannan, executive director of the nonprofit Association of Immunization Managers, which represents state health officials, said states have been making good progress in their preparations. And we could have several vaccines pretty soon. But states still need more funding, she said. Hannan doesn’t think a lack of additional funding would hold up distribution initially, but it could cause problems down the road. “It’s really worrisome that Congress may not pass funding or that there’s information circulating saying that states don’t need additional funding,” she said.
How is the service industry dealing with the return of coronavirus restrictions?
Without another round of something like the Paycheck Protection Program, which kept a lot of businesses afloat during the pandemic’s early stages, the outlook is bleak for places like restaurants. Some in the San Francisco Bay Area, for example, only got one week of indoor dining back before cases rose and restrictions went back into effect. Restaurant owners are revamping their business models in an effort to survive while waiting to see if they’ll be able to get more aid.
How are hospitals handling the nationwide surge in COVID-19 cases?
As the pandemic surges and more medical professionals themselves are coming down with COVID, nearly 1 in 5 hospitals in the country report having a critical shortage of staff, according to data from the Department of Health and Human Services. One of the knock-on effects of staff shortages is that people who have other medical needs are being asked to wait.
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