Small device, big problem: Risk between vaping and COVID-19

The Food and Drug Administration and Center for Tobacco Products recently announced youth use of e-cigarettes, also known as vaping, remains a public health concern.

With COVID-19 on the rise and cold and flu season around thecorner, physicians are advising patients now, more than ever, is a good time to quit smoking and vaping.

Per the FDA, e-cigarettes are the most commonly used tobacco product among both middle and high school students. Compared to 2019, 1.8 million fewer U.S. youth are currently using e-cigarettes and the current youth usage remains concerningly high.

CED Mental Health DeKalb Prevention Specialist Iesha Mcelrath said with school back in session, she has begun sessions with students at DeKalb County Youth Services twice a week on tobacco usage.

“E-cigarettes and tobacco use at school is one of the trending reasons students are apprehended and sent to out-of-school suspension,” said Mcelrath. “Because electronic nicotine delivery systems are still fairly new, new long-term health effects are still being discovered.

As reported by the Center for Disease and Control and Prevention (CDC), In 2020, approximately 1 in 5 high school students and 1 in 20 middle school students used e-cigarettes.

E-cigarettes come in a variety of shapes and sizes and may not look like a tobacco product, which can make them hard to spot.

Some devices popular among teens like Juul and Puff Bar are as small as a USB flash drive and even look like one.

Certain products emit very low amounts of aerosol or “vapor,” making them easier to use discreetly than combustible cigarettes.

Multiple studies, including a recent study from the Division of Adolescent Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, Stanford University, show smoking is associated with increased severity of COVID-19.

Findings found that a COVID-19 diagnosis was five times more likely among users who vaped and seven times more likely among dual-users who vaped and smoked.

Yale Medicine pulmonologist, critical care physician and specialist in respiratory infections Charles Dela Cruz, MD, Ph.D. said it is clear that smoking and vaping is bad for the lungs. Patients who smoke and vape can have damaged lungs that make them susceptible to respiratory infections, including COVID-19.

As stated by physicians, because smoking and vaping are often social activities, with users sometimes sharing cigarettes and devices, the likely spread of illness is substantially higher.

With most e-cigarettes containing nicotine, the same highly addictive drug in cigarettes, medical experts encourage quitting. Some vapes reportedly contain as much nicotine as a pack of 20 regular cigarettes.

Amid the ongoing health crisis, it's important to remember a healthy lifestyle is a priority.

“The youth do not always have the current facts on the substance that they partake in, but hopefully, with educated parents and communities, we can help pass on the important information,” said Mcelrath.

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