A scientific paper that said current smokers were 23 percent less likely to contract COVID-19 has been retracted after two of the authors were found to have ties to the tobacco industry. In a statement, the European Respiratory Journal said that one of the researchers, Jose M. Mier, is a consultant to a tobacco company, and another, Konstantinos Poulas, is an employee at a Greek NGO that has received funding from the tobacco industry. Poulas and Mier had failed to disclose these obvious conflicts of interest, which led the journal to retract the paper. The paper’s senior author Konstantinos Farsalinos has pushed back, saying conflicts of interest are “irrelevant to the study’s main aims and objectives.” An analysis published in the journal BMJ Evidence-Based Medicine offered a different explanation, saying that the conclusion that there is a correlation between smoking and low rates of COVID infection is rooted in “biases and knowledge gaps,” as well as incomplete data collection.
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