Young people who smoke or use electronic cigarettes are more than five times more likely to contract coronavirus, according to a study published Tuesday by the Stanford University School of Medicine.
The study found that of young adults who were tested for coronavirus, those who reported smoking or using e-cigarettes were five to seven times more likely to be infected than nonsmokers.
“We were surprised,” Bonnie Halpern-Felsher, professor of pediatrics at Stanford University and the study’s senior author, told 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 Stanford study marks the first national population-based look at connections between vaping and smoking and coronavirus in young people. It is based on surveys of 4,351 participants ages 13 to 24 from across the country.
It’s unclear from the study exactly what the relationship is between vaping and contracting COVID-19. Researchers said it could potentially be the fact that vaping damages lungs and that aerosol emitted from e-cigarettes could have droplets containing coronavirus.
Rep. Raja KrishnamoorthiSubramanian (Raja) Raja KrishnamoorthiStudy: Youths who vape, smoke over 5 times more likely to contract coronavirus The FDA must clear the market of junk antibody tests without delay House Democrats find Trump officials overpaid for ventilators by as much as 0 million MORE (D-Ill.), the chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee’s Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy, wrote a letter to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Stephen Hahn citing the new Stanford study, calling on the FDA to clear the market of e-cigarettes for the duration of the pandemic.
The congressman had previously called for the FDA to ban e-cigarettes after earlier studies showed they increased risk of contracting COVID-19. On Tuesday, he gave the FDA an Aug. 18 deadline to respond on whether they will order e-cigarettes to be removed from shelves, and if so, to provide a written description of how they plan to do so.
“The science is now in: e-cigarette users are much likelier to be diagnosed with COVID-19 and to experience symptoms,” Krishnamoorthi wrote. “While we are not writing today to address the safety of e-cigarettes for adult smokers following the deadly spread of COVID-19, it is evident that the youth vaping epidemic has combined forces with the Coronavirus pandemic, creating a much deadlier foe that demands FDA action.”