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Vaping multiplies risk of COVID-19 in teens and young adults

Teens and young adults who vape are at significantly higher risk of being diagnosed with COVID-19, according to new research published in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

Young people who reported ever using e-cigarettes were five times more likely to be diagnosed with COVID-19 compared to their non-vaping peers. Those who reported both e-cigarette and cigarette use in the past 30 days were nearly seven times more likely to receive a positive diagnosis and were also almost five times more likely to experience COVID-19-related symptoms compared to those who had never vaped or smoked. These symptoms may include fever, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, and fatigue, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

With the coronavirus pandemic occurring at a time of record-high youth vaping in the United States, many, including the U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams, have previously raised concerns about whether e-cigarette use could make young people more susceptible to the virus. This research, arriving amid growing evidence that vaping can harm lung and heart health overall, validates these concerns.  

As manufacturers of e-cigarettes face a September 9, 2020, deadline to apply to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to keep their products on the market, this research should further compel the agency to require tobacco companies to submit research showing the impact on youth and young adults. Truth Initiative and other public health groups have called on the FDA to require this information before authorizing the marketing of any new tobacco product, including e-cigarettes, or permitting any claim that states or implies a tobacco product is less harmful than any other tobacco product.

This new research is based on data from a national sample of 4,351 people between 13 to 24 years old who were surveyed in May about their e-cigarette and cigarette use, experience of symptoms related to COVID-19, and whether they received a diagnosis. Read the study published in Journal of Adolescent Health.