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Coronavirus & smoking: New study finds increased risks

Jonathan Beaver of San Francisco holds a marijuana cigarette at the San Francisco Patients Cooperative, a medical cannabis cooperative, November 29, 2004 in San Francisco, California.
Jonathan Beaver of San Francisco holds a marijuana cigarette at the San Francisco Patients Cooperative, a medical cannabis cooperative, November 29, 2004 in San Francisco, California. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

COVID-19 study out of France is igniting controversy.

Researchers there are working to determine if nicotine patches can prevent coronavirus infections, prompting global and national health organizations to renew warnings.

"You weren't safe smoking and vaping pre COVID-19 and those risks continue during this pandemic," says Dr. Patrice Harris, president of the American Medical Association.

Early studies show smokers who contract COVID-19 can get much sicker than non-smokers.

One study found it nearly doubles the rate of disease progression, and smokers were at greater risk of severe outcomes and death.

“COVID-19 can be an especially serious threat to those who already have compromised lung function,” Dr. Harris warns. Dr. Harris says underlying conditions caused in part by smoking, including heart and lung disease and diabetes, weaken the body’s response to COVID-19 and may be one factor in the virus’ disproportionate impact on African American, Native American and Latino communities.