Vaping Makes You 7 Times More Likely to Get COVID-19
4 MINUTE READ
New research links using e-cigarettes and vaping to increased risk of COVID-19. Here’s why.
By Thomas Vincz, Public Relations Manager
You can now add COVID-19 to the growing list of health problems associated with vaping.
Teens and young adults who vape have a “substantially increased risk” of COVID-19, according to new research released by the Stanford University School of Medicine. The study of 4,000 participants found that young people who use e-cigarettes were five to seven times more likely to become infected with COVID-19, compared with those who did not vape.
These findings add to the body of evidence suggesting young people are more susceptible to the coronavirus than first thought.
“Young people may believe their age protects them from contracting the virus or that they will not experience symptoms of COVID-19, but the data show this isn’t true among those who vape,” the study’s lead author, Dr. Shivani Mathur Gaiha, wrote in a statement.
Here’s what you need to know about this new research:
- Vaping is risky alone, but using regular cigarettes compounds the danger. Young people who’ve vaped before were five times more likely to test positive for the coronavirus than non-users, the study reports. However, those who had used both e-cigarettes and tobacco cigarettes within the last 30 days were nearly seven times more likely to be diagnosed with the virus.
Teens who vaped and smoked were also almost five times as likely to experience COVID-19 symptoms, such as coughing, fever, tiredness and difficulty breathing as those who never smoked or vaped. Showing these types of symptoms probably accounted for this group being two to nine times more likely to be tested.
Interestingly, researchers did not find a connection between a COVID-19 diagnosis and smoking conventional cigarettes alone. That could be because most teens who use nicotine both vape and smoke, but very few use cigarettes only.
“It’s been clear for some time that vaping presents very serious, potentially life-threatening health consequences for young people,” said Dr Don Liss, Vice President and Chief Medical Officer for Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey. “This new research lends even greater urgency to our encouragement of anyone who vapes or uses e-cigarettes to quit.”
- It’s still not known why vaping increases risk. The Stanford study noted that vaping potentially damages the lungs and immune system, leaving teens more susceptible to COVID-19.
It’s also suggested that the mere practice of vaping could make infections more likely. Electronic vaping devices emit aerosols that could contain droplets contaminated with COVID-19. Also, repeatedly touching the mouth and face – a common behavior among people who vape – or sharing vaping devices among teens could also spread the virus.
- More regulation of vaping products could be coming. The Stanford researchers said they hope their findings will encourage the Food and Drug Administration to tighten the rules around the sale of vaping products to young people.
For now, the FDA has not tied COVID-19 to vaping, which the agency warns can expose the lungs to toxic chemicals. “Whether those exposures increase the risk of COVID-19 or the severity of COVID-19 outcomes is not known,” the FDA website says.
But the study’s senior author, Bonnie Halpern-Felsher, PhD, professor of pediatrics at Stanford, says more must be done. “Now is the time,” Halpern-Felsher said. “We need the FDA to hurry up and regulate these products. And we need to tell everyone: If you are a vaper, you are putting yourself at risk for COVID-19 and other lung disease.”