Smoking should be forbidden on outdoor terraces and other communal areas as a measure to stop the spread of coronavirus, a public health commission organised by Spain’s Health Ministry has recommended.
The commission contained representatives from every region in Spain, and recommended that those who do smoke should do so in “separate, outdoor areas”, and that they should wash their hands before and after smoking. “The very act of smoking involves the discharge of respiratory droplets,” said the commission, and recommended that smoking cease to be “ a communal, social activity”.
The recommendations also apply to vaping and e-cigarettes as well as water pipes, hookahs or shishas, which are increasingly popular in some establishments.
The commission concluded that smoking was not only harmful to health on its own, but the constant manipulation of face masks and hand-to-mouth touching that it involves makes transmission more probable.
The study mentioned a recent study from France in which scientists suggested that nicotine may be a factor behind the relatively low frequency of Covid-19 cases among smokers as compared to non-smokers. The French study , however, failed to take account of factors such as the high amount of health workers who contract the illness, or the amount of older ex-smokers.
Spain’s Health Ministry said the French study was “very early”, and reminded citizens that smokers are 1.45 times more likely to develop serious symptoms of coronavirus.
The commission’s recommendations are not yet law, but will be influential on future legislation during the “new normal.”