Scientists at Stanford University School of Medicine said teenagers and young adults that vape are at substantially higher risk of becoming infected with COVID-19.
They made the claim in a new study published on Tuesday.
The study was the first to examine links between vaping use in young people and coronavirus infection, Alarabiya reports.
It found that those that vape are between five and seven times more likely to contract the virus compared to those that did not.
“This study tells us pretty clearly that youth who are using vapes or are dual-using [e-cigarettes and cigarettes] are at elevated risk.
“It’s not just a small increase in risk; it’s a big one,” the study’s lead author Shivani Mathur Gaiha, PhD., said in a statement published by Stanford Medicine.
The authors surveyed 4,351 participants aged 13 to 24 across the US, asking about vaping use and COVID-19 symptoms and whether they had been tested for the virus.
Those that had used e-cigarettes within the past month were found to be five times more likely to have been diagnosed with the coronavirus, compared to those that did not vape.
Those that had used both e-cigarettes and normal cigarettes were found to be nearly seven times more likely be diagnosed with the virus.
The study did not, however, find a connection between COVID-19 infection and normal cigarettes alone, with the authors suggesting that this may be due to a pattern of youths generally using both vaping and conventional cigarettes.
“Young people may believe their age protects them from contracting the virus or that they will not experience symptoms of COVID-19, but the data show this isn’t true among those who vape,” Gaiha added.
The World Health Organization (WHO) warned last month that those who smoke normal cigarettes are at a higher risk of severe illness and death from the coronavirus, but it has not been able to specify exactly how much greater the risk is.
The announcement followed a small study conducted by French researchers in April, which suggested that smokers were at less risk of catching COVID-19.
Scientists then questioned the results at the time for lacking definitive data.