Spanish health authorities have recommended that smoking and vaping “should be avoided in social and communal settings” as a means of preventing new Covid-19 infections.
“In situations where it is carried out, it should be in open spaces, and with personal hygiene by the consumer such as handwashing before and after and cleaning the devices used,” the document by Spain’s Public Health Commission reads.
This advice addresses the risk of smokers and vapers touching potentially contaminated surfaces in terraces and other public places, and then taking their hands to their mouths.
But Spain’s Health Ministry has also emphasized that smoking or vaping in public can pose a higher risk of infections for others as well, as small droplets that are expelled more easily while breathing in and out “can contain viral load and be highly contagious”.
The use of water pipes, which was banned during phase 1, 2 and 3 of Spain’s de-escalation plan, is still not recommended given that these 'shisha' pipes are usually shared by a group of people.
The World Health Organisation has on several occasions said that smoking has been linked to higher risk of severe illness for those infected with the coronavirus, although several studies by French and Spanish scientists suggested nicotine therapy could actually help combat Covid-19, something Spain’s Health Ministry has said has no scientific basis.
In fact, the Spanish government is currently working on the reform of its 2005 Law Against Tobacco, which will see higher taxes slapped on cigarettes and more restrictions on smoking in public.