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Smoking on terraces can spread Covid up to eight metres away claim medical experts

These spaces are “unsafe” for workers and patrons the Spanish Society of Pulmonology and Thoracic Surgery (Separ) says

SUSANA ZAMORA

The Spanish Society of Pulmonology and Thoracic Surgery (Separ) has warned that smoking on terraces makes them "unsafe places" for both clients and staff due to the risk of Covid-19 and other diseases associated with secondhand smoke.

Separ said that Covid-19 particles are transmitted through aerosols when breathing and the risk of passing it on increases when smoking or vaping which is an “excellent vehicle for the transmission of virus particles between people.”

"In smoking or vaping spaces, coronaviruses with diameters of 0.1 microns can bind to larger tobacco smoke particles and these aerosols, loaded with viral particles, can reach distances of eight metres," Separ warned on 19 January.

The organisation is also calling for smoking on terraces to be banned and for the reform of current anti-smoking legislation.

This should not be a temporary measure, they say "approved only circumstantially, to avoid the spread of Covid-19 on the terraces, but permanently, so that it helps to prevent the spread of this and other respiratory infections."

“The gases and harmful particles that tobacco smoke contains in these places not only come from the smoker's exhalation and from the combustion of the cigarette, but also from the butts and the mixture of these toxins from the smoker with gases from the atmosphere. These chemical agents adhere to clothing, objects or other installations on terraces. They even remain residual in the smoker's exhalation for at least 10 minutes after finishing his last cigarette," the society said.

The exposure non-smokers face "involves a greater risk of developing diseases such as ischemic heart disease, neoplasms or exacerbations of chronic respiratory diseases, especially for workers or vulnerable members of the public such as children or pregnant women, for whom there is never a safety threshold,” it added.