The French government has temporarily restricted the sale of nicotine replacement products after French researchers announced a clinical trial to determine whether nicotine can help prevent coronavirus infection or treat COVID-19 complications.
Nicotine could help prevent a coronavirus infection
The temporary restrictions do not concern consumer products such as nicotine liquids or tobacco products.
The government said the restrictions are intended to prevent "excessive use" spurred by the announcement of studies showing nicotine shows promise as a COVID prevention drug, and to ensure "continued and appropriate care for individuals who need medical assistance to quit smoking."
The emergency ordinance limits the sale of products such as nicotine patches, chewing gums, lozenges and inhalers to one month's supply per person and prohibits online sales. Customers will be asked to provide pharmacies with their personal details in order to track sales. The order is valid until 11 May, when some restrictions will be relaxed.
The clinical trial, which will soon begin at the Pitié-Salpêtrière hospital, follows a study showing that French smokers are far less likely to become infected with the virus than the general population. The French data confirm earlier results from China and the United States. The study uses nicotine patches that release nicotine very slowly and are not able to create addiction or dependency in nicotine-dependent consumers.
The World Health Organization said Friday that the French data "are not consistent with what we see in other countries," but that's wrong. The results are remarkably consistent, showing that smokers with the virus are disproportionately less likely to be hospitalized than non-smokers.
Scientists, including Greek cardiologist and e-cigarette researcher Konstantinos Farsalinos, suspect that nicotine occupies certain receptors on cells that are the main targets for the coronavirus to enter the body and block the virus' access. If the benefit is proven, nicotine could become a gap prevention measure until a vaccine against the coronavirus, known as SARS-CoV-2, becomes available.
Nicotine has many benefits that are generally ignored by the medical establishment. It is a reliable cognitive enhancer that improves short-term memory and reaction time, and it is known to prevent Parkinson's disease. Researcher Paul Newhouse of Vanderbilt University is currently leading a large, multi-institutional study of nicotine as a treatment for the cognitive impairment that leads to Alzheimer's disease.