While much remains to be learned, an early study examining the relationship between smoking, vaping, and COVID-19 in youth was published in August 2020. The full study can be found in the Journal of Adolescent Health here and a media release can be found here.
What was studied?
A diverse group of youth and young adults ages 13-24 were surveyed. Questions included ever smoking or vaping as well as past 30-day use. Regarding COVID-19, youth indicated if they had experienced symptoms, received a COVID-19 test, and/or were positively diagnosed as having COVID-19. Participants also provided demographic information and information on compliance with shelter-in-place orders.
What were key findings?
- As compared to youth who reported never vaping or smoking, youth who reported vaping, smoking, or both, were at increased risk of experiencing COVID-19 symptoms (e.g., coughing, fever, tiredness, or difficulty breathing) and were more likely to have been tested for COVID-19.
- Within youth tested for COVID-19, those who had ever vaped were five times more likely than non-users to be positively diagnosed. This increased to 6.8 times more likely to get a positive diagnosis if youth both vaped and smoked within the past 30-days.
- While smoking alone was not associated with positive COVID-19 diagnosis, this was likely due to most youth reporting either only vaping or both smoking and vaping.
What might DFC coalitions do with this information?
These findings show an association and more research is needed toconfirm these findings. That said, vaping and smoking should never be used by youth and young adults. To help support your efforts to prevent or reduce vaping and smoking among youth, consider the following activities:
- Engage with your Media and Youth sector/youth coalition to share information about the harms of e-cigarettes.
- Educate local officials on passing new ordinances such as requiring signage at convenience stores, bars, restaurants, or other places where smoking and vaping products are sold or used.
- Support youth who are currently vaping and/or smoking by providing access to local and national resources on how to stop (e.g., teen.smokefree.gov and This is Quitting).
Additional resources are available on this topic from the CDC and NIDA. If you have any local successes or additional ideas to share with other DFC coalitions, please submit a Success Story on the DFC Me Learning Center. Thank you to all the coalitions who have already taken this step! Finally, please let us know if you have any questions about the study.