New study suggests vaping increases COVID-19 risk in teens

U.S.

CHICAGO (NewsNation) — A new study suggests that teenagers and youth who vape and smoke electronic cigarettes are five to seven times more likely to get coronavirus.

The study was led by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine. Researchers surveyed more than 4,300 young adults between the ages of 13 to 24 across the country, including the District of Columbia and three U.S. territories.

The online survey conducted in May included an equal sample of participants that use e-cigarettes and those who had never used nicotine products. The study also factored in the participant’s sex, LGBTQ status, race/ethnicity, mother’s level of education, body mass index, compliance with shelter-in-place orders, and rate of COVID-19 diagnosis.

Participants answered questions about whether they had ever used vaping devices and e-cigarettes, as well as whether they had vaped or smoked in the past 30 days.

They were asked if they had experienced COVID-19 symptoms, received a test for COVID-19 or received a positive diagnosis of the disease after being tested.

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Researchers concluded that the use of cigarettes and e-cigarettes can cause respiratory system damage, potentially increasing the risk of COVID-19, a positive diagnosis and harming health consequences.

“Teens and young adults need to know that if you use e-cigarettes, you are likely at immediate risk of COVID-19 because you are damaging your lungs,” said the study’s senior author and pediatrics professor, Bonnie Halpern-Felsher, PhD.  

The study finds that dual smokers, racial background and weight are key risk factors for the disease.

Dual-smokers who used within 30 days of the study duration were 4.7 times more likely to experience virus symptoms.

Black, Hispanic, and other multiracial people are twice as likely to experience COVID-19 symptoms. The study shows that LGBTQ individuals are 1.8 times more likely to showcase symptoms, and participants who didn’t comply with shelter-in-place guidelines were 1.6 times more likely to exhibit symptoms.

Those who vaped and traditionally smoked were nearly seven times more likely to become infected, according to the study.

“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 and postdoctoral scholar Shivani Mathur Gaiha, PhD.

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