A vaper pictured at Vaper Expo in London earlier this year
A vaper pictured at Vaper Expo in London earlier this year, before coronavirus took hold

We are governed by little men and women. If it were not already obvious, the coronavirus has showed that unserious people are ill-equipped to deal with serious problems. Six months into the pandemic and the political pygmies continue to behave as if we still live in trivial times. Here are three recent examples.

This week, the Canary Islands and the Spanish region of Galicia announced that they would be responding to an uptick in Covid-19 cases by banning smoking outdoors三级成人视频. The justification offered for this draconian legislation revealed such a staggering level of ignorance about germ theory that one can only hope they were joking.

The President of the Canary Islands, Angel Victor Torres, said a ban was needed because ‘infected smokers could blow droplets carrying the virus when they exhale’. This is true so far as it goes, but it makes you wonder how he thinks nonsmokers breathe.

A smoker sunbathing on the beach, as the regional government of the Canary Islands forbids smoking without maintaining a safe distance Credit:  REUTERS

Trying to defeat an infectious disease with outdoor smoking restrictions would be silly at any time. It is particularly perverse when smokers seem to be less likely to ‘blow droplets carrying the virus’ than nonsmokers. Studies suggesting that smokers are surprisingly resistant to Covid-19 have been around since April and, although it has received minimal media attention, the evidence has been growing stronger every week. A study in the Lancet last month found that countries with more smokers had less Covid-19.

A study of over 20,000 Covid cases published last week found that smokers are less likely to test positive for the virus and much less likely to be admitted to intensive care with it. This week’s widely reported antibody study from Imperial College included the less widely reported finding that smokers are 36 per cent less likely to have had the virus. This is just the tip of the iceberg.

三级成人视频While I don’t expect to public health officials to actively encourage people to smoke, there is no reason to think that a renewed clampdown on smoking is going to do a lick of good in the public health crisis that has engulfed the world. It may well make things worse, but when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

Contrast the way in which the large body of evidence showing smokers at less risk of Covid-19 has been disregarded with the warm embrace given to a dubious study of vaping this week.

Written by three Californian academics, one of whom is the founder and director of an anti-vaping organisation, the study produced the unlikely finding that e-cigarette users are five times more likely to test positive for Covid-19. There is, to put it mildly, no obvious biological mechanism for this and the explanations offered by the researchers were risible.

They suggested that vapers were at greater risk of contracting Covid-19 because they touch their mouth and face more (they don’t), or because vaping causes the same damage to lungs as smoking (it doesn’t), or because vapers share devices with one another (even the authors admit that this was unlikely to happen much under lockdown).

The study’s methodology left a lot to be desired. It was based entirely on an anonymous online survey of 13 to 24 year olds. None of the information could be verified and we do not know how the respondents were recruited. The number of self-reported vapers who self-reported a positive Covid-19 test was so small (50) that it would have been easy for anti-vaping activists to game the system with fake responses.

三级成人视频Moreover, the association between vaping and Covid-19 only existed for people who had used an e-cigarette in the past. Inexplicably, there was no such association for people who had used an e-cigarette in the past 30 days (nor, indeed, for people who smoked).

三级成人视频Despite the study’s flaws, its almost unbelievable findings were reported around the world on Tuesday. Tellingly, the authors described their results as ‘timely evidence’ and concluded with an appeal to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to further regulate e-cigarettes. Senator Raja Krishnamoorthi took the bait and immediately wrote to the FDA , praising the ‘seminal study’ and declaring that the ‘the science is now in’. He called on the FDA to ‘clear the market of all e-cigarettes for the duration of the coronavirus crisis’, i.e. full prohibition. As the chairman of the Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy. Krishnamoorthi’s opinion presumably carries weight.

三级成人视频Finally, consider the Mexican state of Oaxaca which recently banned the sale of sugary drinks and so-called junk food to children, thereby putting crisps and sweets in the same category as tobacco and alcohol. As the Guardian noted, the politician who proposed the ban had previously ‘equivocated on recommending mask use and pursued a policy of not testing or contact tracing’.

A giveaway detail was that she had first tabled the bill last year, but seized the Covid-19 crisis as an excuse to push it through as an emergency measure on the pretext that obese people - although not obese children - are more likely to die from the virus if they contract it.

There are obvious parallels with our own government which last month responded to the ongoing epidemic by resurrecting a set of food regulations that the almost comically inept Public Health England had long campaigned for. A government that failed to develop a mobile phone app expects us to believe that banning two-for-one pizzas will help prevent a second wave. The small men and women are fighting a house fire with a water pistol.

三级成人视频None of these policies, not the ban on smoking outdoors, nor the ban on the sale of e-cigarettes, nor the restrictions on food sales, will have the slightest impact on Covid-19 (except, perhaps, negatively). The only thing they have in common is that political pygmies have always quite liked the sound of them.

Faced with a serious public health problem, unserious people have retreated to their comfort zone of trivial lifestyle regulation. They cannot change the record. They were not made for these times.