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Fewer than half of young people aware of connection between vaping and COVID-19 risk

Evidence is growing that vaping harms lung health and can make young people more vulnerable to COVID-19, including new research from Stanford University that shows teens and young adults who have vaped may be  up to five times more likely to test positive  for the virus than their non-vaping peers. Yet only 44% of young people think vaping and COVID-19 infections are linked, according to new Truth Initiative research.

The research, based on a survey of more than 1,000 young people between 15 and 24 conducted in August, also found that young people were concerned about their health and interested in information about how to improve it. Nearly half (49%) said they are more concerned about their health during the pandemic than they were before.

With most young people unaware that e-cigarette use could significantly increase their risk of testing positive for COVID-19, a new campaign from truth® is working to change misperceptions and help youth stay healthy with Vaping vs. Immune Systems with Dr. Rutland. Launching during the MTV Video Music Awards on August 30, Vaping vs. Immune Systems with Dr. Rutland explains how vaping can damage lungs and weaken the immune system.

In a series of videos, Dr. Cedric "Jamie" Rutland, a pulmonary and critical care physician at the University of California Riverside known for his popular youth-focused approach to sharing critical health information, interacts with young people to correct misinformation about COVID-19 and shares ways to “get a badass immune system.”

As part of the campaign, truth will host a Q&A with Dr. Rutland on Instagram so young people can ask direct questions about vaping and its impact on their health. The campaign will also include immune system boosting tips, like taking an Ice Bath on TikTok.

Vaping vs. Immune Systems with Dr. Rutland builds on the Ready to Ditch JUUL campaign powered by truth, which featured young people creatively ditching their vapes and directed those looking to quit to This is Quitting, a first-of-its-kind, free and anonymous quit vaping program. The text-based program, which was built with input from young people and offers resources easily accessible while social distancing, has enrolled more than 190,000 people to date. Preliminary data about the program published in Nicotine & Tobacco Research following the launch show after just two weeks of using This is Quitting, more than half — 60.8% — reported that they had reduced or stopped using e-cigarettes.

[Teens and young adults can text “DITCHVAPE” to 88709 and get immediate help.]

With the coronavirus pandemic occurring at a time of record-high youth vaping in the United States, addressing misconceptions about the health effects and risks of vaping is especially important. According to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly one-third of all American high school students reported that they used e-cigarettes in 2019, with almost a third of those reporting frequent use, meaning they vaped at least 20 times a month.