While secondhand smoke likely doesn’t directly cause the coronavirus, smokers can exhale infected droplets into the air, experts say.
“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,” Dr. Albert Rizzo, chief medical officer for the American Lung Association, told the Associated Press.
The virus is mainly thought to spread from person to person through respiratory droplets.
Secondhand smoke also reduces lung function, can inflame asthma and cause heart disease, lung cancer or a stroke – all of which would complicate contracting the coronavirus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Cigarette smoke contains hundreds of toxic chemicals and at least 70 that can cause cancer.
Even after secondhand smoke dissipates, thirdhand smoke, which clings to dust, clothing, walls and furniture, could harbor the virus, according to Salud America, a Texas-based health organization.
“Dust may contain [thirdhand smoke] particles that are larger than coronaviruses,” Environmental Science and Technology researchers found last spring. “Thus, [thirdhand smoke and thirdhand aerosol] may harbor COVID-19.”
Smokers may also be more likely than nonsmokers to develop complications due to the virus.
the Associated Press contributed to this report.