No more trivialising the risk of smoking

Smoking status by pack year must be documented

03.02.2021 In Germany, the enormous risk of smokers suffering a severe course and death from a coronavirus infection is systematically swept under the carpet. No wonder, as we are the undisputed European leader in tobacco prevention. All appeals by Pro Rauchfrei to have smoking status recorded have so far been ineffective.

Study results confirm what seems perfectly logical anyway: a serious respiratory disease is more dangerous for smokers than for non-smokers. To come to this conclusion, it is only necessary to correctly document the smoking status of patients. However, this is not done by asking about current smoking behavior. Rather, as a US study shows, the pack years must be recorded: 20 cigarettes per day for a year correspond to one pack year

The so-called cumulative smoking dose is decisive in assessing the risk of illness and death among smokers. In more than 7,000 patients included in the study, the risk of death in the group with 30 pack-years or more was more than 6 times higher than in non-smokers, and the risk of a severe course with hospitalisation was almost 5 times higher.

“Smokers are a significant risk group for coronavirus patients. Nevertheless, these data are completely ignored in German studies. This would have far-reaching consequences for corona and tobacco prevention: more smoke-free places, no exceptions to the mask requirement, low-threshold cessation offers and much more,” demands Siegfried Ermer, Chairman of Pro Rauchfrei e.V. “However, the most urgent measure is to record the smoking status of patients correctly and on a mandatory basis. The next step must be targeted information for the public.” Tobacco prevention and non-smoker protection are an indispensable building block for containing the pandemic, he concludes.