When the tobacco industry influences science: article on protective role of smoking against Covid-19 has been withdrawn

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Elia Tabuenca García
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A scientific article on protective smoking against Covid has been withdrawn. Two authors were linked to tobacco industry funds.

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THEtobacco industry returns to the world spotlight with another case that makes us reflect on the dominance of economic profit on the protection of human health, also and above all in this pandemic phase.




On sensitive issues such as public health and respiratory diseases, world scientific attention has now reached the highest levels. The CD. "the smoker's paradox", Which includes smokers among the categories of people at low risk of contracting Covid, turned out to be a falsehood, or rather, a false illusion due to obvious knowledge gaps, the scarcity of reliable quantitative data on the phenomenon, and the distortion of information content.

©Shutterstock/Sergii Sobolevskyi

Index

Smokers and the Covid risk

Covid-19 is in fact an infectious disease that primarily affects the lungs. What's worse for a smoker?

Indeed, a scientific paper appeared last July 30 in theEuropean Respiratory Journal (first in pre-press and then in early view) - which argued that smokers were at a lower risk (with an estimated 23% probability) of contracting Covid-19 infection than non-smokers - was withdrawn, on request of the publisher and the editorship of the magazine, due to the alleged financial links of two authors with the tobacco industry. Such links would never have been declared to the editors of the magazine. A clear conflict of interest which leaves many questions open about the scientific rigor and transparency of some international studies.

The article in question was the result of a research conducted by a team from the University of Piraeus (Greece), in collaboration with the University of Utah (United States). The lead author, Theodoros Giannouchos, currently works as a post-doc at the US university, while the senior researcher is Konstantinos Farsalinos, an author well known to those involved in research on the use of electronic cigarettes. 

An intertwining of interests

Some supporters of electronic cigarettes they believe that nicotine even has a protective effect against Covid-19. Even according to the "indicted" paper, smokers positive to covid would not show particular adverse outcomes of the infection. They also believe smokers have a significantly lower risk of contracting the virus. 


On the contrary, theWHO warned that smoking could represent an indisputable risk factor in the case of respiratory infections such as coronavirus; consequently, smokers would be at greater risk than non-smokers in exhibiting severe symptoms of this type of infection (for example, for hospitalized smoking patients, it would be more likely to enter intensive care, to use ventilators and death).

© Kateryna Kon / Shutterstock

Step back

In 'notice of retraction, published on the magazine's website last March 4 (despite the opposition of its authors to the withdrawal of their work, which they promise to submit to another magazine) it is explained that the author José M. Mier, at the time of the presentation of the manuscript, allegedly served as an advisor to the tobacco industry on the mitigation of the risk associated with smoking. Another author, Konstantinos Poulas, at that time worked for the Greek NGO NOSMOKE, based at the Science Park of Patras, a scientific pole for innovation that receives funding from the Foundation for a Smoke Free World, which depends on the giants of the tobacco industry.

In short, when the tobacco lobbies come into play, not only the integrity of scientific research is in danger, but also our health. 

Sources: Retraction notice-European Respiratory journal/Retraction Watch/WHO

Read also:

Smoking: Phillip Morris' secret war to promote Iqos devices

So the tobacco lobbies are exploiting the pandemic to increase their profits (disguised as aid)

 

On sensitive issues such as public health and respiratory diseases, world scientific attention has now reached the highest levels. The CD. "the smoker's paradox", Which includes smokers among the categories of people at low risk of contracting Covid, turned out to be a falsehood, or rather, a false illusion due to obvious knowledge gaps, the scarcity of reliable quantitative data on the phenomenon, and the distortion of information content.


©Shutterstock/Sergii Sobolevskyi

Index

Smokers and the Covid risk

Covid-19 is in fact an infectious disease that primarily affects the lungs. What's worse for a smoker?

Indeed, a scientific paper appeared last July 30 in theEuropean Respiratory Journal (first in pre-press and then in early view) - which argued that smokers were at a lower risk (with an estimated 23% probability) of contracting Covid-19 infection than non-smokers - was withdrawn, on request of the publisher and the editorship of the magazine, due to the alleged financial links of two authors with the tobacco industry. Such links would never have been declared to the editors of the magazine. A clear conflict of interest which leaves many questions open about the scientific rigor and transparency of some international studies.

The article in question was the result of a research conducted by a team from the University of Piraeus (Greece), in collaboration with the University of Utah (United States). The lead author, Theodoros Giannouchos, currently works as a post-doc at the US university, while the senior researcher is Konstantinos Farsalinos, an author well known to those involved in research on the use of electronic cigarettes. 

An intertwining of interests

Some supporters of electronic cigarettes they believe that nicotine even has a protective effect against Covid-19. Even according to the "indicted" paper, smokers positive to covid would not show particular adverse outcomes of the infection. They also believe smokers have a significantly lower risk of contracting the virus. 

On the contrary, theWHO warned that smoking could represent an indisputable risk factor in the case of respiratory infections such as coronavirus; consequently, smokers would be at greater risk than non-smokers in exhibiting severe symptoms of this type of infection (for example, for hospitalized smoking patients, it would be more likely to enter intensive care, to use ventilators and death).

© Kateryna Kon / Shutterstock

Step back

In 'notice of retraction, published on the magazine's website last March 4 (despite the opposition of its authors to the withdrawal of their work, which they promise to submit to another magazine) it is explained that the author José M. Mier, at the time of the presentation of the manuscript, allegedly served as an advisor to the tobacco industry on the mitigation of the risk associated with smoking. Another author, Konstantinos Poulas, at that time worked for the Greek NGO NOSMOKE, based at the Science Park of Patras, a scientific pole for innovation that receives funding from the Foundation for a Smoke Free World, which depends on the giants of the tobacco industry.

In short, when the tobacco lobbies come into play, not only the integrity of scientific research is in danger, but also our health. 

Sources: Retraction notice-European Respiratory journal/Retraction Watch/WHO

Read also:

Smoking: Phillip Morris' secret war to promote Iqos devices

So the tobacco lobbies are exploiting the pandemic to increase their profits (disguised as aid)

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