Following reports that smokers have much less chance of being hospitalised for coronavirus, the French government issued a decree on Friday limiting pharmacies to providing a maximum one-month supply of nicotine patches and other products aimed at decreasing dependence on tobacco. Online sales were banned outright.

The Health Ministry made the move in order to “to guarantee the continuous supply for people requiring medication to stop smoking.” Another motivation, according to the ministry, was to “prevent the health risk linked to the excessive consumption or misuse” of nicotine products.

Earlier in the week, the Pitie-Salpetriere hospital in Paris concluded “that current smoking status appears to be a protective factor against the infection by SARS-CoV-2.” The statistical correlation between smoking and protection was found to be unusually high, according to researchers at the hospital (see earlier report)

Neither the hospital at the centre of the study nor the health ministry lost any time in reminding people that 75,000 people die from smoking-related illnesses every year in France.