Vaping is being linked to an increased risk of COVID-19 among teenagers and young adults, according to a new study.
Researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine looked at connections between youth vaping and COVID-19 cases in the U.S. They analyzed online surveys conducted in May by 4,351 people between the ages of 13 and 24.
Among teens and young adults who took a coronavirus test, those who vaped were five to seven times more likely to test positive.
“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.
The participants were evenly divided between those who had used e-cigarettes and those who had never used nicotine products.
Participants who admitted to using both cigarettes and e-cigarettes in the previous 30 days were almost five times as likely to have COVID-19 symptoms, including coughing, fever, tiredness and difficulty breathing, compared to those who never smoked or vaped.
Young people who vaped or smoked, or both, were about two to nine times more likely to receive COVID-19 tests than nonusers.
Among those surveyed who had taken a COVID-19 test, those who had used both e-cigarettes and cigarettes in the previous 30 days were 6.8 times more likely to test positive for the coronavirus.
“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.
Researchers hope their study will be a warning about the dangers of vaping, and also prompt the Food and Drug Administration to consider tighter regulations on vaping products.