Infection risk due to smoking

21.08.2020 Pro Rauchfrei addresses the German Minister Presidents and Health Ministers with the request to better protect the population from infection by adapting the Corona regulations. At the same time, we are asking the Robert Koch Institute to recommend such a measure.

In Spain, smoking is now banned in public if a minimum distance of two meters cannot be maintained. This is on the urgent recommendation of the health authorities. How does smoking increase the risk of infection?

When smoke (or vapor) is emitted vigorously, respiratory droplets are transported at least 1-2 meters. According to a US study from April, coronaviruses remain relatively virulent in aerosols for up to three hours. Respiratory droplets are one of the main carriers of COVID-19 infections.
Where masks are compulsory – e.g. at train stations and public transport stops – smokers do not wear them, which effectively reduces protection against infection.
Smokers regularly touch their lips with their fingers and thus infect themselves more easily.
Repeatedly putting on and taking off face masks also promotes infection.
Last but not least, smokers are more susceptible to infection anyway due to their weakened immune system, but will not take symptoms such as coughing or shortness of breath seriously at first because they are used to them as a side effect of smoking.
Our call for a smoking ban:

Urgently improve protection against coronavirus infection
Dear Mr. / Mrs. Prime Minister, Governing Mayor, First Mayor, Mayor or

Dear Mr. / Mrs. Minister, Senator,

As is becoming increasingly apparent, cigarette consumption is a risk factor for health not only in general, but especially during the coronavirus pandemic. National governments have a duty to protect their citizens from avoidable and significant health risks.

We therefore ask you to follow the Spanish example by adapting the Corona Ordinance of your federal state to prohibit smoking in public places where a minimum distance cannot be maintained. A ban on smoking outside your own home if the minimum distance of two meters cannot be maintained now applies throughout Spain. The government there is following the recommendation in a position paper from the Spanish health authorities (; link is no longer online), which states:

In addition, according to the World Health Organization, scientific societies and related organizations, we must consider other existing risks associated with smoking and vaping:
Handling the protective mask and repeated contact of the fingers with the mouth after touching products (conventional cigarettes or electronic devices) or utensils (water pipes) that could act as carriers of infection of the virus
Expelling respiratory droplets that contain a viral load and can be highly contagious.
Relaxation of social distancing rules.

Prof. Stanton Glantz from the University of California states the following:

People who have any cotinine (a metabolite of nicotine) in their bodies – even at the low levels associated with secondhand smoke – have substantially increased risk of acute respiratory failure from ARDS

Dr. Albert Rizzo, chief medical officer of the American Lung Association, says about smoking and e-cigarette use:

Not only are they potentially spreading virus by not wearing a mask, they are blowing those droplets to the people around them to potentially get infected…

Against the backdrop of rapidly increasing infection rates worldwide and throughout Germany, it is time to take all health protection measures that are economically viable and reasonable for individuals. A smoking ban in particularly busy public places such as train stations, bus stops, entrances, underpasses, passages and other confined spaces, as well as in crowds in general, is one such measure. It would also help to support existing regulations on the obligation to wear masks, such as on public transport, as smoking is a violation of the obligation to wear a mask.

Please do everything you can to protect the citizens of your federal state from an otherwise unavoidable risk of infection.