Smoking Protecc!?

Conventional wisdom was that smoking would be a major risk factor for dying from the new coronavirus.

But so far data from China and now the US shows the opposite (h/t Wael):

Obviously, this is not a valid reason to light up.

But this would be good news for countries where smoking rates are high.

Anatoly Karlin is a transhumanist interested in psychometrics, life extension, UBI, crypto/network states, X risks, and ushering in the Biosingularity.


Inventor of Idiot’s Limbo, the Katechon Hypothesis, and Elite Human Capital.


Apart from writing booksreviewstravel writing, and sundry blogging, I Tweet at @powerfultakes and run a Substack newsletter.


  1. Please keep off topic posts to the current Open Thread.

    If you are new to my work, start here.

  2. The Big Red Scary says

    And the ghost of Sir Ronald Fisher cackles maniacally…

  3. Brás Cubas says

    I suppose there are very few smokers aged >70, and practically none aged >80. I also suppose that those few must have very good immune and cardiovascular systems to have survived that habit for so long.

  4. I would think that a large percentage of people in their 70s and 80s would be ex-smokers, since they came of age when smoking was at its most prevalent (early 1960s in North America).

    A French study recently came to the same conclusion, and considering that more than 60% of adults used to smoke, while smokers and ex-smokers combined amount to only 3.6% of all corona patients referenced above, then there must be something to this theory.

    Meanwhile I’ll be monitoring the covid deathcount poolside, blowing smoke rings 😉

  5. Korenchkin says
  6. In China 50% of men smoke while only 3% women do yet covid cases were close to 50/50 which would mean that smoking is not a risk factor.

  7. If ghosts maintain the personalities of their embodied precursors, then rather than cackling, the ghost of R. A. Fisher is detailing in the most acerbic way possible the absurdity of a conclusion drawn from unifactorial data.

  8. Thorfinnsson says

    Take this one with a big, big grain of salt boys.

    Tobacco is not something the public health authorities got wrong, even if they do excessively demonize it and ignore its occasionally beneficial effects (stimulant, nootropic, neuroprotective, appetite suppressant).

    Bear in mind that COVID-19 is an upper respiratory disease as well.

    For the red meat, see this Twitter thread:


    •no smoking history given
    •some patients literally too sick to answer the question
    •the same data show that these “smokers” have lower rates of hypertension and cardiovascular disease than the chinese average (!)

    As far as the US data goes not only is the sample size much smaller but the disparity is different than the Chinese data (2x). I would also not be surprised if an issue with patients being too sick to answer the question were also an issue in America, along with how being a smoker is defined. Lastly, in the United States smokers are thinner than the overall population. It’s now pretty well established in America that obesity is one of the most significant comorbidities associated with COVID-19 fatalities.

  9. Reminds me a bit of the sci-fi movie Screamers with Peter Weller (1995). The soldiers had to smoke red cigarettes to protect themselves from radiation.

  10. Elmer's Washable School Glue says

    Well, the recent revelations about ventiators and their inefficacy would seem to suggest that Corona prevents the absorbtions of oxygen into the bloodtream in a very specific way. Becuase it targets mucus membranes that prevent foreign matter from entering the lung, some have suggested that, in severe cases, oxygen absorbtion is reduced becuase lungs are literally covered in a layer of gunk.

    So ventilators, which assist in the actual act of beathing, don’t help. Similarly, smoking hurts the lungs in an entirely different manner (by stiffening and damaging the alveoli) so it may be tangential to the damage from coronavirus.

    I think it’s plausible that smoking has little to no effect on mortality rates which, coupled with Bras Cubas’ points above, gives the illusion of a net protective effect.

  11. Max Payne says

    There is a world of difference between cigarette tobacco (laced with all forms of chemy goodness) and naturally cured tobacco. And there is even a GREATER difference between American cigarettes and Chinese cigarettes.

    Illustrious brands like “Double Happiness” make American cigarettes blush when it comes to chemical additives.

    But…. I can’t disagree with the obvious. Generally speaking any form of smoke inhalation is bad for you.

  12. My uncle smoked cigarettes until sometime in his early 80’s and lived to be 97. It’s true that in his case he smoked his own machine rolled cigarettes similarly to cigarillos that dangled from his lips, and avoided inhaling the smoke, but still…My friend’s father lived to be 106 (!) and would rarely reneg on his Sunday afternoon cigar and glass of wine or snifter of brandy. I’ve read somewhere that pipe smokers, 0n average, live longer than the general population of males. This is apparently because the pipe smoker embodies a more laid back lifestyle that mitigates against hypertension (as you point out).

  13. Autists Anonymous Rehab Camp Fugitive says
    It’s been 10 years and he’s only getting more vindicated.

  14. Hm. So it was fake news that this disease hit men harder than women in China? Or were the infection rates around 50/50, but the death rates MUCH higher for men?

  15. jimmyriddle says

    Smoking ups the red blood cell count. Smokers are less prone to altitude sickness for the same reason.

  16. animalogic says

    Yes, in general. Of course theres the exception: i know of a 100 year old still puffing away (god bless her !)

  17. I’ve read somewhere that pipe smokers, 0n average, live longer than the general population of males. This is apparently because the pipe smoker embodies a more laid back lifestyle that mitigates against hypertension (as you point out).

    Stalin aside.

  18. I’ve given up the pipe (very moderate smoker), the bottle and chocolate and all meat products for Orthodox lent and have made great strides in lowering my own high blood pressure problem. I’ve gone from 166/98 at the beginning of lent to 138/78 today. I’ve done this mostly through diet and supplements, more greens (celery juice etc), beats, garlic, olive leaf and hawthorne. I need to up my walking and exercise regime, I’m hoping that by doing so I’ll improve my numbers even more.

  19. Philip Owen says

    In the UK, the current analysis is that the risk factors are, in order: age, male, obesity, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, ethnic family patterns. The broadcast news media have been so keen to avoid reference to a person’s obesity that it is never listed as a preexisting medical condition. Photos of younger victims are inevitable rather old. eg the pregnant Nigerian nurse is shown at her graduation. The deputy ambassador’s photo seemed ten years old. The first 29 year old with no pre existing medical conditions had had a gastric bypass operation and flip flopped into anorexia but I will bet her biochemistry was still set at obese. I’ve lost weight myself in the last two years. Enough?

    The Caribbean, Middle East and Pacific Islands will be death camps. The US is up there too.

  20. Fumigations with and smoke inhalations of various herbs have been a staple of traditional medicine universally, much appreciated for their prophylactic and healing properties. Of course they are less harmful than the exhaust gases of automobiles and industries.

  21. It’s a gradual process. Beets are a great natural upper.

    I do an occasional cigar. I’ve heard 120/80 being kicked around as an ideal max. Mine has fluctuated 96/66, 110/70, 120/80, 130/80, with a pulse rate in the high to low sixties.

    This lock-down isn’t helping, being away from the gym and pool.

  22. Thorfinnsson says

    The US is already on the mend, but we’ve had an unusual proportion of deaths occurring in the relatively young. More under 40s have died in New York than in all of Europe. Invariably these people were obese.

    Our data also suggest that blacks are much more at risk, which doesn’t augur well for any Caribbean islands that get significant outbreaks. Steve Sailer has pointed out many times that black slavery died out in the Northern US because of greater susceptibility to respiratory disease.

  23. Your numbers get progressively higher in the order that you present them. Unfortunately this trend seems to be the norm as you age, as is putting on the pounds. I miss the pool too, and walking is better than running. As I get better in shape, maybe I’ll take up tennis again, something that I did when I was younger. Tennis, is a much more grueling sport than many think – a great overall sport for fitness.

  24. Those numbers are in the not too distant past. The lowest occurred during chemo-radiation when my activity level was zilch.

    Tennis, handball, basketball are all great. As for working out, high intensity interval training is a good mimic of these activities.

    Wish I could still run with regularity. Cars can have their suspension changed when worn. Not as easy to do with people.

  25. Stick with walking and wait it out untill you can resume swimming. I hope that you’re over whatever was slowing you down!