Scientists have long established that smoking is a deadly habit, but in the era of the coronavirus, it poses an even greater threat to public health. A member of the Health Ministry’s Coronavirus Scientific Advisory Board says cigarette smoke helps virus particles from an infected person spread farther. His warning comes one day after Turkey introduced a smoking ban in outdoor spaces across all provinces in a bid to quell the rise in COVID-19 cases.
According to an Interior Ministry circular sent to governorates across the country, smoking will be banned in most outdoor places, including crowded streets, mass transit stops and town squares.
The move came hours after the governorates of Istanbul and Izmir separately announced the smoking ban for their respective cities, with the Interior Ministry expanding the ban nationwide. Those violating the ban face a fine of TL 900 ($116).
Associate professor Afşin Emre Kayıpmaz of the Coronavirus Scientific Advisory Board said virus particles travel far when people talk, cough, shout or laugh loudly. “Similarly, people who smoke emit breath more prominently and the smoke they emit has the possibility of acting as a carrier for these particles. You have to keep a distance from smokers. The normal ‘social’ distance between people not smoking should be 2 meters (6.6 feet), and if one of them smokes, this should be at least 4 meters,” Kayıpmaz told Demirören News Agency (DHA) on Thursday.
He noted that people tend to smoke in groups during breaks at workplaces. “You have to remove your mask while smoking and if you smoke together with other people, this increases the likelihood of infection. The smoking ban is necessary for this reason,” he said.