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New study links vaping, smoking to higher risks for COVID-19 in teens and young adults

Teens or young adults who smoke or vape had a higher chance or testing positive for the coronavirus, according to the study which surveyed more than 4,300 people

MEMPHIS, Tenn — A new study led by scientists at Stanford University of Medicine, finds a strong correlation between testing positive for COVID-19 and young people who vape, use cigarettes or both. 

The Stanford research was conducted in the form of a nationwide survey of more than 4,300  people aged 13 to 24.  

“They talked to a number of people online and did surveys essentially and looked at people with different age groups, looked at people who did and did not use tobacco products," said Dr. Steve Threlkeld. "Did and did not use vaping products.” 

Researchers found that youth who ever used e-cigarettes were 5 times more likely to be positive for COVID-19 than non-users. Youth who ever used both e-cigarettes and cigarettes were seven times more likely. Also young people who both vaped and smoked cigarettes in the past 30 days were close to 7 times more likely to be diagnosed.

Infectious disease expert Dr. Steve Threlkeld explained possibly why.  

“A lot of people in the younger age groups will pass around a vaping product and so there may be some intrinsic risk just in that. Vaping has potential other risks certainly lung problems down the road," added the Baptist Memorial Hospital doctor. 

The survey found that African Americans, Hispanics and multi-racial participants were twice as likely to experience COVID symptoms.

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“We need to be careful to make sure that our youth understand those data and until we understand it better that they realize it’s an increased risk there.”

An advocacy group for vaping products spoke out against the findings.  

Gregory Conley, president of the American Vaping Association said in a statement: 

“This online survey found no association between having exclusively vaped during the past 30 days and reporting a positive COVID-19 test.”