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Covid-19: Can you get infected from secondhand smoke?

  • Published at 11:42 am August 7th, 2020
cigarette- rickshaw-puller - manik
File photo of A rickshaw-puller smokes a cigarette on a Dhaka street on June 11, Thursday, 2020 Md Manik/Dhaka Tribune

Being able to smell the smoke might be a good sign that you are standing too close to the smoker

There is not enough reason to believe that secondhand smoke can directly spread the virus that causes Covid-19, but experts believe infected smokers may blow droplets carrying the virus when they exhale. 

The respiratory droplets people spray when they talk, cough or sneeze are believed to be the main way the virus spreads. And people also exhale those droplets when smoking, as well as when they are vaping. 

Secondhand smoke is smoke from burning tobacco products, such as cigarettes, cigars, or pipes. It is smoke that has been exhaled, or breathed out, by the person smoking, according to US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

Being able to smell the smoke might be a good sign that you are standing too close to the smoker.


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"Not only are they potentially spreading virus by not wearing a mask, they are blowing those droplets to the people around them to potentially get infected," says Dr Albert Rizzo, chief medical officer for the American Lung Association, reports AP.

'Secondhand smoking kills 1.2m people'

Tobacco smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals, including hundreds that are toxic and about 70 that can cause cancer, CDC notes. 

Breathing in secondhand smoke from cigarettes can cause various health problems. 

People consume tobacco in several forms like smoking cigarettes, smoking water pipes (shisha or hookah), smoking biri, smoking cigars, chewing cigarette, vaping (e-cigarette), using heated tobacco products, etc. 

Data from the World Health Organization (WHO) shows that over 80% of the world's 1.3 billion tobacco users live in low- and middle-income countries.

Tobacco kills more than eight million people each year. More than seven million of those deaths are the result of direct tobacco use, while around 1.2 million are the result of non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke, says WHO. 

In Bangladesh alone, tobacco-related illness claims 126,000 lives a year, according to Progga, an anti-tobacco advocacy group.