Protective mask only for non-smokers?

A topsy-turvy world: smoking permits despite mandatory masks

28.10.2020 Open letter to the minister presidents and health ministers of the federal states: pandemic measures with binding implementation instructions

In view of the sharp rise in the number of infections in Germany, you, dear representatives of the state governments, have, in agreement with the federal government, implemented or will implement increasingly strict measures to contain the pandemic.

The effectiveness of some measures has not been sufficiently scientifically proven, such as the obligation to wear masks outdoors or the curfew regulations.

The majority of the population still accepts these measures in the hope that they will prevent a large-scale shutdown of economic life. However, in order to continue to ensure this, it is urgently necessary to keep an eye on the main goal: effectively reducing the risk of infection. If this is not the case, it would be grist to the mill of the deniers and blockers.

A general obligation to wear masks in squares and on streets should apply to everyone. However, smokers at train stations and bus stops who do not comply with the mask requirement have been attracting a lot of negative attention for some time now. To date, there has been no official statement that would qualify this obligation to wear a mask.

This has now changed. In the absence of clear guidelines, local authorities are interpreting the mask requirement for public places and streets as they see fit. Specifically, press reports indicate that the cities of Ahlen, Augsburg, Bamberg, Halle, Herne, Ingolstadt, Lüdenscheid, Ludwigsburg, Mönchengladbach, Nuremberg, Solingen and Wuppertal allow smokers exemptions from the mask requirement. This can be read in the following press releases.

Sometimes abstruse additional rules are mentioned: Smokers would have to stand still while smoking or they would be allowed to “finish smoking” or “smoke briefly and then put the mask back on”. As if this would change the fact that air is expelled far more during this already deadly activity than during normal breathing. In this context, smoking must be regarded as an increased risk factor in the same way as singing, shouting or sneezing. In addition, the increased risk of infection from smoking due to frequent finger-lip contact is known, so that smoking in public is currently prohibited in any case.

Pro Rauchfrei calls for clearly understandable rules: Specify in the infection protection ordinances of your federal state that a mask requirement must always be accompanied by a smoking ban. To this end, local authorities should be required to affix the standardized no-smoking sign to signs indicating that masks are compulsory. After all, if not even the responsible authorities draw this logical conclusion, how can individual smokers be expected to do so?