WASHINGTON — Can you get the coronavirus from secondhand smoke?
Secondhand smoke isn’t believed to directly spread the virus, experts say, but infected smokers may blow droplets carrying the virus when they exhale.
Being able to smell the smoke might be a red flag that you’re standing too close to the smoker. The respiratory droplets people spray when they talk, cough or sneeze are believed to be the main way the virus spreads. And people also exhale those droplets when smoking, as well as when they're vaping.
“Not only are they potentially spreading virus by not wearing a mask, they are blowing those droplets to the people around them to potentially get infected,” says Dr. Albert Rizzo, chief medical officer for the American Lung Association.
You should steer clear of secondhand smoke regardless. Breathing in secondhand smoke from cigarettes can cause various health problems, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.
The United States has more than 4.7 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to statistics from Johns Hopkins University.
Just after 11 a.m. EDT Tuesday, the U.S. more than 155,000 deaths from the virus. Worldwide, there are more than 18 million confirmed cases with nearly 700,000 deaths.