A research paper asserting that smokers are less likely to contract the novel coronavirus has been retracted after it was revealed that some of the study’s authors had financial ties to the tobacco industry.

The World Health Organization has warned that because smoking impairs lung function, there is an increased risk of severe symptoms if respiratory infections, including coronaviruses, are acquired by smokers. Covid-19 is an infectious disease that primarily attacks the lungs.

But the paper, published in July last year by the European Respiratory Journal, found “current smoking was not associated with adverse outcome” in patients admitted to hospital with Covid, and claimed smokers were at a significantly lower risk of acquiring the virus. The paper was reported on by several mainstream media outlets.

The latest edition of the European Respiratory Journal included a retraction notice for the paper, stating: “It was brought to the editors’ attention that two of the authors had failed to disclose potential conflicts of interest at the time of the manuscript’s submission.”

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