Vaping, where the user inhales an aerosol that contains nicotine and other flavorings, is already known to be harmful to both teens and adults. But now there’s another reason to skip the e-cigarettes and encourage your teen to ditch the vape pen. Researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine released a new study Wednesday that shows that vaping increases your chances of contracting COVID-19. In the study, those who vaped were five to seven times more likely to be infected with COVID than those who did not use vaping devices.
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The study, published online in the Journal of Adolescent Health was the first of its kind to explore a connection between youth vaping and COVID.
“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, Bonnie Halpern-Felsher, PhD., professor of pediatrics.
Youth may also feel that they are invulnerable to COVID, causing them to participate in riskier behavior, including smoking and vaping.
Other research revealed that nearly all youth who use nicotine in some form vape, and that many vape and smoke cigarettes, but very few use cigarettes alone.
“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,” said the study’s lead author, postdoctoral scholar Shivani Mathur Gaiha, PhD.
Halpern-Felsher said that the study should sound an alarm to the FDA to tighten restrictions on youths being able to purchase vaping products.
“We need the FDA to hurry up and regulate these products,” says Halpern-Felsher. “And we need to tell everyone: If you are a vaper you are putting yourself at risk for COVID-19 and other lung disease.”
The Vaping Epidemic and Your Teen