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Tobacco use and COVID-19: A deadly combination

COVID-19 is a virus that primarily attacks your lungs. Tobacco use, including traditional cigarettes and e-cigarettes or vaping, damages your lungs significantly. This combination increases the risk of death for young people with COVID-19.

Vaping is linked to a substantially increased risk of COVID-19 among teenagers and young adults, according to a new study led by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine. 

Among young people who were tested for the virus that causes COVID-19, the research found that those who vaped were five to seven times more likely to be infected than those who did not use e-cigarettes.

There were 41 million e-cigarette users worldwide (World Health Organization) as of 2018, and that number is expected to reach 55 million by 2021 (Euromonitor).

Vape users tend to be younger. The distribution, according to Gallup, is as follows:

  • 20% of people age 18 to 29
  • 9% of people age 30 to 49
  • 7% of people age 50 to 64
  • less than 0.5% of people older than 65.

And, according to the Truth Initiative, 15- to 17-year-olds are 16 times more likely to vape than 25- to 34-year-olds.  

So, the age group with the most natural immunity to COVID-19, young people, can damage their lungs and endanger their health with damaging health choices. If this is the case, imagine the statistical increase in COVID-19 deaths and symptoms among older adults or those who are already at risk from COVID-19.

What can employers do?

Employers should establish a smoke-free workplace, again reviving those policies that were so necessary in earlier decades, to protect their workers and their customers. Employers should also spell out all prohibited products, including:

  • e-hookahs
  • e-pipes
  • e-cigars
  • e-cigarettes
  • advanced modular ENDS (Electronic nicotine delivery systems)
  • tobacco products
  • cigarettes
  • cigars
  • chewing tobacco
  • smokeless tobacco

Employers can also make employees aware of the magnified risk of COVID-19 that comes with vaping.

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