Controversial Link: Smoking, Vaping and Coronavirus
May 21, 2020 | Coronavirus
There is some evidence that ingesting nicotine by smoking or vaping might increase the risk of contracting the coronavirus, and also worsen the infection.
There is also some evidence that nicotine might be a partial COVID-19 vaccine.
A recent French study suggested that since coronavirus was a Nicotinic acetylcholine receptor, or nAChR, disease, nicotine use could prevent COVID-19.
The European Commission immediately moved to restrict the sales of cigarettes and nicotine substitutes.
Most evidence, however, indicates the opposite is true.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) maintains that smoking increases both the risk of coronavirus infection and the possibility of serious illness.
“People who smoke cigarettes may be at increased risk of infection with the virus that causes Covid-19, and may have worse outcomes from Covid-19,” the agency said.
The Centers for Disease Control and many other public health agencies have taken similar stances.
How Coronavirus Attacks the Body
The first coronavirus outbreak, SARS-CoV or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, began in China in 2003.
SARS had a fatality rate about five times as high as COVID-19 and symptoms similar to pneumonia.
There were less than a dozen SARS cases in the United States, and all those people had travelled overseas.
Coronavirus affects the body in about the same way, but it is not as deadly as SARS, but COVID-19 is a much more contagious form of this illness.
The best way to avoid infection is to avoid close contact with infected people and any contact with infected surfaces.
Most people are infectious for about ten days. However, coronavirus symptoms are usually so mild that many people might be sick and not know it.
In terms of surfaces, COVID-19 can live on a surface for anywhere between a few hours and five days, depending on the material.
The body’s immune system then kicks in to fight the virus.
In about 80 percent of cases, the symptoms stop with fever, coughing, and other such effects.
But in about a fifth of cases, COVID-19 keeps moving through the respiratory system and inflames the lungs, causing dyspnea (shortness of breath).
After a few days, dyspnea becomes ARDS (Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome), or fluid in the lungs.
If the person’s respiratory system is already compromised due to toxic, from smoking or vaping, simple coronavirus is much more likely to turn into ARDS.
Legal Issues Regarding COVID-19 Infections
Surface infections are a troubling source of coronavirus illnesses.
That’s particularly true in nursing homes and jails.
Many people in these environments have compromised immune or respiratory systems, mostly due to age, cigarette smoking, and/or drug use.
Normally, long-term care facilities, sheriff’s offices, private prison owners, and other such organizations do not have a duty to disinfect surfaces and protect people against contagious diseases.
The risk of infection is too remote.
But the normal rules do not apply during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Since the danger is much more foreseeable, the duty of care is much higher.
Much like swimming pool owners have a duty to keep swimmers safe, property owners also have a duty to keep visitors safe, whether they are there voluntarily or involuntarily.
These same rules apply to cruise ships, churches, community centers, athletic stadiums, and any other place where people gather. The expiration of stay-at-home orders does not alter this duty.
If victims can trace their COVID-19 infections to a specific place and the owner did not take sufficient precautions, compensation might be available.
This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.
The Eggshell Skull Rule
Proportionality is normally a consideration in personal injury claims.
Assume Mike hits Ike on a highway.
Mike changed lanes without signaling and Ike was speeding.
At trial, the jury must apportion fault between Mike and Ike on a percentage basis, such as 50-50, 80-20, or whatever.
Once again, however, the normal rules do not always apply in all situations. Specifically, the proportionality rule does not apply if the victim had a pre-existing condition, like an eggshell skull.
Now assume Ike sustained serious broken bones in the crash because the wreck aggravated an old injury.
It’s certainly not Mike’s fault that Ike had a pre-existing condition, and under the proportionality doctrine, he should not be responsible for all Ike’s medical bills.
But the eggshell skull rule says otherwise.
Ike is entitled to full compensation. Mike should not receive a windfall just because Ike had an eggshell skull.
This doctrine applies in other areas as well, such as workers’ compensation claims.
A pre-existing condition does not mean the negligent party is off the hook.
For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in New York, contact Napoli Shkolnik PLLC. We work on contingency, which means there are no upfront legal fees.
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