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Secondhand smoke, COVID-19 and you

As if you needed yet another reason to quit smoking, here it comes: Doctors say it might be possible for second-hand smoke to carry COVID-19.

Pre-pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) already estimated that second hand smoking, “contributes to approximately 41,000 deaths among nonsmoking adults and 400 deaths in infants each year.”

On Monday, Health magazine posted an article on whether the COVID-19 virus could spread through second hand smoke. Read the article here.

So we asked our lead Infection Prevention expert what she thought about this possibility.

As you’ve heard our doctors and the CDC say, COVID-19 is spread by respiratory droplets that are produced as an infected person-- with or without symptoms-- talks, coughs, or sneezes. The Corporate Director of Infection Prevention at Truman Medical Centers, Susanna Paschal, R.N., explains that since exhaled smoke contains respiratory droplets, it might be possible. There isn’t research, so she can’t give a definitive answer. But, Paschal warns, if the person next to you is smoking, they’re probably not wearing a mask. So even with your mask on, you should stay at least 6 feet from them.

Doctors say another takeaway is that smoking cigarettes leads to many of the existing conditions (diabetes, heart disease, cancer) that make patients who contract COVID-19 more vulnerable to hospitalization and death.

If now is the time for you to kick the habit, we are here to help. Truman Medical Centers/University health has teamed up with Masonic Cancer Alliance to offer FREE smoking cessation classes via Zoom. See the box below for details.