France restricts sales of nicotine substitutes after coronavirus study

A study suggested there were less coronavirus patients among those who consumed nicotine

(FILES) In this file photograph taken on April 23, 2020, a banner reading "Confined, equality, fraternity" hangs at a window of an apartment, in Paris, as the country is under lockdown to stop the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic caused by the novel coronavirus. "Confined but not resigned", they don't just applaud at 8:00 p.m. Using old sheets and paint, French people "demonstrate" at their windows, drawing the portrait of a country where anger is rising. / AFP / FRANCOIS GUILLOT
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France has restricted sales of nicotine substitutes after a study published this week suggested nicotine could offer some protection against infection by the coronavirus.

The health ministry said it wanted to avoid a shortage of products such as nicotine patches for patients and to prevent the wrong use, and overuse, of substitutes used to fight dependence.

Lockdown tensions bubble over in Paris suburbs

Lockdown tensions bubble over in Paris suburbs

Under the decree, pharmacies are not allowed to sell more than a month's worth of substitutes until May 11 when France is to begin easing strict lockdown measures and reopening schools.

Online sales have also been suspended.

"A team of French researchers has written an interesting scientific article which tends to show that there are fewer patients in the population consuming nicotine - and therefore smokers - than in the rest of population", health minister Olivier Veran told members of parliament on Wednesday.

"But beware, this does not mean that tobacco protects. Tobacco kills", Mr Veran said, adding that more than 70,000 people die each year in France from smoking related illnesses.

A study by researchers at a hospital in Paris showed that smokers were less infected with the virus than other people. It also suggested that nicotine could prevent the virus from entering cells.

Researchers warned nevertheless that smokers who did become infected with coronavirus would develop more severe cases of the COVID-19 respiratory disease it causes