E-Cigarette Use May Increase Risk Of Contracting COVID-19 In Teens & Young Adults

Vaping, or the use of electronic nicotine delivery devices that vaporize nicotine-infused liquid, is linked to a dramatically higher risk of getting infected by COVID-19 in teens and young adults, according to a new study by Stanford University researchers.

The study, published in The Journal of Adolescent Health just ahead of International Youth Day on Wednesday, found that teens and young adults who vaped were five times more likely to be diagnosed with COVID-19.

Those who vaped and smoked traditional combustible cigarettes were seven times more likely to receive a positive COVID-19 diagnosis.

“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,” said the study’s lead author, Stanford researcher Shivani Mathur Gaiha, in a press release.

“This study tells us pretty clearly that youth who are using vapes or are dual-using [e-cigarettes and cigarettes] are at elevated risk, and it’s not just a small increase in risk; it’s a big one.”

The study analyzed self-reported data from 4,351 people between the ages of 13-24 across the United States. It found that those who had used e-cigarettes or conventional cigarettes in the past were also more likely to experience symptoms of COVID-19, and seek testing. 

The researchers found no relationship between only smoking traditional cigarettes and COVID-19 infection in this study. However, senior author Bonnie Halpern-Felsher, a professor of pediatrics at Stanford, said this may be due to the fact that few teens and young adults exclusively smoke combustible cigarettes in the United States.

“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,” said Halpern-Felsher.

Image Credits: Flickr: Mike Mozart.

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