Using e-cigarettes is associated with a substantially increased risk of COVID-19 among teenagers and young adults, according to a study led by an Indian-origin researcher.
The study, published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, is the first to examine connections between youth vaping and COVID-19 using US population-based data collected during the pandemic.
Among young people who were tested for the virus that causes COVID-19, the researchers found that those who vaped were five to seven times more likely to be infected than those who did not use e-cigarettes.
“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 Shivani Mathur Gaiha, a postdoctoral scholar at the Stanford University School of Medicine in the US.
“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,” Gaiha said.
“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, professor at the Stanford University.
Data were collected via online surveys conducted in May. Surveys were completed by 4,351 participants ages 13 to 24 who lived in all 50 US states, the District of Columbia and three US territories.
The researchers recruited a sample of participants that was evenly divided between those who had used e-cigarettes and those who had never used nicotine products.
The sample also included equal numbers of people in different age groups – adolescent, young adult and adult – races and genders.
Participants answered questions about whether they had ever used vaping devices or combustible cigarettes, as well as whether they had vaped or smoked in the past 30 days.
Young people who had used both cigarettes and e-cigarettes in the previous 30 days were 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, the researchers said.
Depending on which nicotine products they used and how recently they had used them, young people who vaped or smoked, or both, were 2.
6 to nine times more likely to receive COVID-19 tests than nonusers, they said.
Those who had used both e-cigarettes and conventional cigarettes in the previous 30 days were 6.8 times more likely to be diagnosed with the disease, they said. Source: PTI