A new study out of France suggests that nicotine could play a role in preventing people from contracting COVID-19, but Canadian experts say people should avoid jumping to conclusions.

The Pitié-Salpêtrière hospital in Paris examined 480 coronavirus patients — 350 were hospitalized while the rest remained at home with less serious symptoms. They found that a low number of patients in both categories were smokers. Of those in hospital, 4.4 per cent were regular smokers, while about 5.3 per cent of those at home said they smoke.

The findings have already spurred clinical trials in France, where nicotine patches will be used on COVID-19 patients.

While the data is still inconclusive, disseminating this kind of information during a global pandemic hooked on lung disease is “irresponsible,” said Robert Schwartz, a professor at the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health and executive director of the Ontario Tobacco Research Unit.

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“This is one study done by one group. We have to wait and see on the evidence,” he told Global News.

“But if it turns out to be that nicotine plays a role here,

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