Scientific papers suggesting that smokers are less likely to fall ill with covid-19 are being discredited as links to the tobacco industry, reveals an investigation by The BMJ today.
Conspiracy theories and quack ideas in research outputs aren’t just annoying and tiresome, they can undermine sound and established science. This can put lives in jeopardy and represent a serious public health concern.
In April 2020, two French studies (shared as preprints before formal peer review) suggested that nicotine might have a protective effect against covid-19 – dubbed the “nicotine hypothesis.”
The stories made headlines worldwide and led to concern that decades of tobacco control could be undermined.
It has since been roundly disproved that smoking protects against covid-19, and several studies show that smoking, when adjusted for age and sex, is associated with an increased chance of covid-19 related death.