“Trail of Death”—A Short Film About COVID, Nicotine and Racism

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    This short documentary, concerning COVID-19, smoking, vaping and racism in America, was co-directed by Filter Senior Editor Helen Redmond and Marilena Marchetti. Parts of it were filmed on location in Bologna, Catania and Messina, Italy, in 2019.

    The filmmakers interview Dr. Riccardo Polosa, a world-renowned tobacco harm reduction researcher, about how he was among those who convinced the Italian government to keep vape shops open, despite that country’s far-reaching lockdown in the days when it was the European country hardest-hit by the pandemic.

    Polosa discusses how nicotine could have a protective effect against the coronavirus, far from public health officials’ immediate assumptions that it was an exacerbating factor. He also explains how the pandemic is playing out differently in Italy and the United States.

    “The trail of death will continue for months and months and months, particularly in countries like the US,” he says. “I’m not talking about Italy or European countries where there are supportive systems.”

    In the US, Black and Latinx people are three times as likely as white people to test positive for the coronavirus, and almost twice as likely to die from it.  


    *Juul, PMI and BAT, whose companies or products are mentioned in the film, have provided unrestricted grants, either directly or through subsidiaries, to The Influence Foundation, which operates Filter. Filter’s Editorial Independence Policy applies.

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