A new study conducted by researchers from US-based Stanford University and the University of California found “surprising” connections between vaping, smoking and the coronavirus (COVID-19) disease in young adults.
The study, published Tuesday in the Journal of Adolescent Health by the Stanford University School of Medicine, found that young adults who regularly use e-cigarettes and regular cigarettes are five times more likely to be vulnerable to contracting COVID-19.
“COVID-19 is associated with youth use of e-cigarettes only and dual use of e-cigarettes and cigarettes, suggesting the need for screening and education,” according to the study.
Based on surveys of 4,351 participants aging between 13 and 24 from across the United States, the research discovered that young adults who smoke or use e-cigarettes were five to seven times more likely to be infected with a respiratory virus than non-smokers.
“We were surprised,” said Bonnie Halpern-Felsher, professor of pediatrics at Stanford University and co-author of the study, cited by NBC News. “We expected to maybe see some relationship [...] but certainly not at the odds ratios and the significance that we're seeing it here”.
The research team said that the link between vaping and COVID-19 infection could be due to the fact that vaping is known to harm the lungs and that the aerosol produced by e-cigarettes can contain droplets of the virus.
Following the publication of the study on Tuesday, Raja Krishnamoorthi, the chair of the US House of Representatives Oversight and Reform Committee’s Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy said in a letter to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Stephen Hahn, that a temporary removal of e-cigarettes from the market should be decreed during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
In April, the lawmaker called on the FDA to temporarily remove e-cigarettes from the market, citing the results of earlier studies that found a connection between smoking, vaping and worsening COVID-19 infection, but his request was rejected by the federal agency, reportedly due to a lack of sufficient evidence of a direct association between the recreational inhalants and the coronavirus.
“The FDA declined to act, citing the need for more evidence that vaping is a risk factor for contracting coronavirus. That failure to act cost us four months of harm to Americans that we cannot get back,” Krishnamoorthi said in a letter to the FDA. “Today, we have the evidence that the FDA was waiting for, and it can no longer deny the danger e-cigarettes pose during the coronavirus crisis. The science is now in: e-cigarette users are much likelier to be diagnosed with COVID-19 and to experience symptoms”.
Krishnamoorthi gave the FDA an 18 August deadline to respond to the subcommittee’s request, and reveal plans for clearing e-cigarettes from the market.