A REGION in Spain has banned smoking in the streets due to the risk it causes in transmitting coronavirus.
Galicia, in the northeast of Spain, has introduced the ban on any public walkways where social distancing cannot be followed, after 827 new cases.
Spain’s coronavirus cases have hit 376,864, with 28,579 deaths.
According to local media, the ban has been introduced because tobacco smoke poses a “risk of infection” of coronavirus, as well as forcing people to remove their masks while smoking.
The ban, in place from today, includes “terraces where people are in close proximity”.
Alberto Fernández Villar, the head of pneumology at Vigo hospital in Galicia, said: “We know that this is an unpopular measure for smokers.”
He added: “But I believe that we are in an exceptional context, with a disease which we don’t know how it will behave in the fall and winter, and any reasonable measure, which has been argued and that protects public health should be applauded.”
Regions including Andalusia, Castilla-La Mancha and Castilla y León may follow suit.
However, Brits are yet to return to Spain – the UK government placed the holiday hotspot on the travel ban list on July 26, meaning a mandatory two-week quarantine when returning to the country.
The Public Health Commission for the National Health System warned that smoking or vaping increase the risk of coronavirus infection.
They explained that when exhaling smoke, the smoker projects droplets, as well resulting in constant touching of the face mask and cigarette.
Multiple studies have been done in regard to the affect of infection and transmission, with smokers also more likely to catch coronavirus.
A team at the Baylor College of Medicine at the University of South Carolina looked specifically at the human enzymes known to facilitate the coronavirus infection and how molecules in the respiratory tract that the virus attaches to infects human cells.
The report published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine found that there was a 25 per cent increase in levels of ACE2, the enzyme that attaches to the outer surface in “ever smokers”.
The significant impact on the pulmonary expression not only showed an increase in entry points for the Covid-19 virus, but also suggested that mucus would stick to the lungs more if the patient was a smoker.
There were also fears that a similar smoking ban could be introduced near pubs and restaurants in the UK.
However, the government quashed the rumours. An MHCLG spokesperson said: “Since the existing ban was introduced businesses have invested heavily in their outdoor areas.
“Banning outdoor smoking would lead to significant closures and job losses.”