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VERIFY: Can the smoke a person breathes out carry the coronavirus?

Smokers are breathing in and exhaling out whatever his or her body is carrying.

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — As the coronavirus pandemic continues, more and more reports are surfacing about all the ways it can possibly spread, including the theory that the deadly virus can spread through cigarette smoke.

After being out on a walk, News 8 viewer Nan Jackson sent in a question: Can the smoke a person breathes out carry the coronavirus? 

According to Dr. Jyotu Sandhu with Sharp Rees-Stealy, if a smoker has the virus then yes, it is possible the smoke the individual breathes out does carry the virus. If an individual is in close proximity to a person smoking, who has the virus, he or she could breathe in that same smoke. 

"That person is just expelling whatever they have in their mouth," said Dr. Standhu. 

What about vaping? Does it carry the same risk?

The answer is, yes. 

Dr. Sandhu said vaping is the same concept as smoking. Smokers are breathing in and exhaling out whatever his or her body is carrying.

Smokers (including vaping) are also more susceptible to getting sick. While cigarettes and tobacco products do not carry the virus, the bodies of individuals who use such products will be less likely to fight off the virus.

In fact, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report listed smoking as a risk factor stating patients who smoke, "might be at a higher risk for severe disease or death from COVID-19." 

"Tobacco smoke kills cilia and so when cilia stops moving, all the junk and congestion and viruses tend to stay longer," Dr. Sandhu said.

The coronavirus, however, is more likely to spread in a confined environment. Still, Dr. Sandhu advises that if you are around someone who smokes, to keep your distance.

If a neighbor smokes, Dr. Sandhu advises closing windows to block out the smoke. 

As always, wash your hands, and consider wearing a mask while out in public.

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