There’s a saying in politics to “never let a good crisis go to waste,” with Republicans and Democrats alike swarming upon all crises to push their policies and themselves.

Unfortunately for the American public, this nefarious thinking doesn’t apply only to politicians. In fact, our own public health agencies are just as culpable as the suits on Capitol Hill at embracing crises to promote their own agenda.

America is in the middle of a viral epidemic. As of May 21, 2020, COVID-19 has killed over 94,000 Americans, infected hundreds of thousands more, and has brought American unemployment to its highest levels since the Great Depression.

In the past two months numerous claims and theories have emerged, but one thing is certain — smokers are heavily underrepresented in COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths, but public health agencies are now omitting those findings. The only question for the American public is why.

On April 3, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report examining underlying health conditions of 7,162 patients hospitalized with COVID-19. Of those patients, only 1.3 percent were current smokers and only 2.3 percent were former smokers. Later CDC reports do not include any information on smoking status, despite the CDC including that in COVID-19-related questionnaires.

Interestingly enough, states are now following CDC’s lead and omitting their own information on smoking status in COVID-19 cases. For example, an April 20 graph on the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (WVHHR) website noted that only 8 percent of COVID-19 fatalities were current smokers and 14 percent were former smokers. Information on smoking status is no longer available on WVHHR’s website. 

The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) has also chosen not to include smoking information on COVID-19 reports. An April 28 COVID-19 Weekly Report issued by OHA included information on underlying conditions for 73 COVID-19 deaths, of these only one was a current smoker and 18 were former smokers. In its recent May 12 COVID-19 Weekly Report, “OHA has chosen not to produce a table of ‘underlying conditions’ among people who have died.”

This is deeply troublesome as scientists and researchers across the globe are looking into why smokers are underrepresented in COVID-19 cases and deaths.

France recently limited sales of nicotine replacement products after researchers noted that a small percentage of smokers were being infected with COVID-19. Other scientists have also examined nicotine’s role in smokers being underrepresented among COVID-19 cases.

Not to be outdone, the anti-tobacco and anti-vaping Stanton Glantz, a professor at the University of Southern California, San Francisco, introduced his own research that smoking “nearly doubles the rate of COVID-19 progression.”

Although the analysis does note that 29.8 percent of smokers “experienced disease progression, compared with 17.6 percent of non-smoking patients,” smokers were largely underrepresented among the cases. Indeed, of the 11,590 COVID-19 cases, only 731, or 6.3 percent, had a history of smoking.

It is alarming that public health agencies would choose to omit information on smoking status, but it is not surprising. The CDC is notorious for pushing a narrative and not public health.

Last year, in its reporting on vaping-related lung injuries, the agency continually claimed that no one common ingredient or brand could be identified as culprit in the illnesses, yet state health departments were able to identify common fake THC vaping brands such as Dank Vapes.

CDC and the media just told Americans to avoid all vapor products. Undoubtedly, due to public health agencies and the media not informing the press of such fake brands, more illnesses ensued.

Although public health agencies shouldn’t promote smoking, they should be presenting information on smoking status in COVID-19 cases, as there is clearly something going on with smokers being overwhelmingly underrepresented.

The omission of the data only leads one to wonder why it is not included — is it for public health or to continue pushing a narrative?