Not just smoking, vaping can also increase your risk of contracting COVID-19, finds study  | &nbspPhoto Credit:&nbspiStock Images

Key Highlights

  • Many people around the world consider vaping a healthier alternative to smoking
  • Researchers have found that this may not be true, and vaping could be just as addictive and harmful to health, as smoking
  • Researchers have now also found that just like smoking, vaping can also increase risk of contraction of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus

New Delhi: The world has been battling the COVID-19 pandemic for months now, and people are looking for ways to stop contraction and spread of COVID-19. Various recommendations have been made by various health agencies when it comes to prevention from COVID-19. Wearing masks, social distancing, following proper hand and respiratory hygiene and others are all measures known to considerably reduce the spread of the virus. Simultaneously, to reduce risk of contraction and complications due to COVID-19, people have been recommended to quit smoking and keep their immunity super-strong by following a healthy diet, regular exercise so that even if they are exposed to the virus, they do not develop the infection.

Smoking was linked with a higher risk of COVID-19 from the beginning of the pandemic. Given that the SARS-CoV-2 is known to primarily affect the lungs,  the risk of damage to the vital organs was higher in smokers, given their lung health has already suffered considerable damage. It was later also found that the spike protein of the novel coronavirus binds with the ACE2 receptors on human cells, the incidence of which is much higher in smokers, than in non-smokers.

Study finds vaping also increases the risk of COVID-19 contraction

According to a recent study, it was found that even young people who vape, or use e-cigarettes are at higher risk of contracting COVID-19. The study was published in the Journal of Adolescent Health. It was found that young people who vape maybe five to seven times more likely to contract the virus, as compared to those who do not use e-cigarettes. The risk was linked with the adverse effect of vaping on lung health. 

“The U.S. Surgeon General said youth vaping is at epidemic levels, and we agree,” said Dr Gregory Carnevale, vice president of Medical Affairs, Medicare and retail markets for Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield.

He further said that national figures match what he had seen at a more localized level.

“Unfortunately, that corresponds with what we’re seeing nationally,” he said.

According to researchers, what makes vaping dangerous are the contents of the e-cigarettes. They contain nicotine, heavy metals, and ultra-fine particles. According to regulations as well, these items are not standardized, and it depends largely on brands on what they use in these products, which also adds to the safety concerns. 

“The interesting thing about vaping is the product is not standard, which makes it more difficult,” Carnevale said. “You have these products that are not regulated. FDA is not regulating these products. Some of them are interchangeable, others are more potent.”

Many people, all around the world, believe that vaping is healthier than smoking, or even as good as quitting smoking. However, various studies have shown that this may not be true, and the practice of smoking e-cigarettes may be just as harmful as traditional smoking, if not more. 

“That’s not true. You could become more addicted, not less. Vaping does not result in becoming less addicted to smoking than through other means,” Carnevale said.

According to a statement issued by Christy L. Richards, health educator,  Ontario County Public Health, COVID-19 testing and tracing process involves questions on smoking and vaping. It was found that residents who had a history of smoking or vaping have reported an exacerbated incidence of COVID-19 symptoms. The symptoms are also reported to be more severe and include an increase in resting heart rate, coughing, shortness of breath. 

Accoridng to Richards, “Smoking and vaping at any age is dangerous, and could increase your risk of serious illness.”

“This is uncharted territory and we have much to learn about both vaping and COVID-19,” she said.

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