Vaping or Smoking May Increase Risk of Coronavirus Complications

Vaping and smoking may diminish lung function and make it harder for the body to fight off respiratory infections. That’s very dangerous today as the coronavirus attacks the lungs and can develop into pneumonia. Current vapers and smokers should follow current safety measures — and consider quitting — to stay safe.

What Is the Link Between Coronavirus and Vaping?

The coronavirus (also known as COVID-19) attacks and weakens the lungs, which may put smokers and vapers at high risk for serious illnesses and death.

Smoking and vaping irritate the lungs while contracting coronavirus could cause even more damage.

Get key facts about vaping, smoking, and the coronavirus below:

  • 22% of COVID-19 patients with severe symptoms were either current or former smokers, according to a study from the New England Journal of Medicine.
  • Over 25% of COVID-19 patients who needed intensive care or a ventilator were current smokers, as noted by a recent Forbes report.
  • A study by the University of California San Francisco found that the severity of the flu and other infections are much more serious for people who smoke or vape.
  • Smokers are 14 times more likely to develop a severe illness from COVID-19 than nonsmokers, according to Dr. Meilan Han, a pulmonary specialist at Michigan Medicine and professor at the University of Michigan.
  • Researchers continue to study possible links between vaping and coronavirus. While links between vaping and COVID-19 complications are still unknown, the FDA urges those who vape to use caution.

Marijuana is a common substitute in vaping products, and its intake as an aerosol instead of being smoked doesn’t lessen the risk of weakened lungs.

While researchers are still gaining a full understanding of COVID-19, “we can make educated guesses based on past experiences that people with compromised health due to smoking or vaping […] can find themselves at increased risk of COVID-19,” according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

The higher risk of contracting COVID-19 extends to people who smoke illicit drugs, including marijuana, and methamphetamine.

While populations over the age of 65 are more at risk, teenagers who vape open themselves to the risk of contracting COVID-19. All smokers and vapers should be aware of the risks linked between their habit and coronavirus.

Why Does Coronavirus Put Vapers at Risk?

Vaping progressively weakens the lungs and impairs their function. This makes it easier for a coronavirus lung infection to take hold.

The World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed in a study that vapers and smokers can develop pneumonia and other severe forms of the disease.

Other Health Risks of Vaping

Vaping is marketed as a safer alternative to smoking. That said, vaping health risks still loom large — and more dangers continue to become well-known.

Vape products often contain toxic chemical combinations. These chemicals enter the lungs and can cause serious damage.

One chemical additive called diacetyl thickens the air sacs and causes inflammation. Doctors call this “popcorn lung” because it mimics the lung damage popcorn factory workers experienced inhaling diacetyl.

Other chemicals — including tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and vitamin E acetate — have also been found in illegal vape cartridges.

The CDC believes that vitamin E acetate was linked to a sharp uptick in vape-related lung illnesses in 2019 and early 2020. This outbreak led to thousands of hospitalizations and dozens of deaths.

Symptoms of this vape-related lung illness included:

  • Chest pain
  • Cough
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Fever and chills
  • Lung and respiratory damage
  • Vomiting

This illness underscores the fact that vaping is not a “safe” alternative to smoking in the slightest. And as the coronavirus continues to spread throughout the country, anyone who smokes or vapes could be in danger.

How to Reduce Coronavirus Complications from Vaping

The main way to reduce the possible risks of coronavirus associated with vaping is simple: stop vaping.

Research shows vapers benefit almost immediately from quitting, with heart rate and blood pressure dropping to normal within 20 minutes.

The body slowly heals itself once free from e-cigarette smoke. The lungs’ ability to fight off infections fully returns after about nine months.

Those who vape or smoke can also reduce their risks of getting the virus by following guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

These guidelines include:

  • Wash your hands often with soap for at least 20 seconds
  • Self-quarantine and practice social distancing
  • Wear a mask if you do leave home

Vaping has become particularly popular with teenagers. Parents of teenagers who vape should take extra precautions.

Parents can keep their children safe by:

  • Learning about vaping and the associated hazards — especially in the age of the coronavirus
  • Talking about the dangers of vaping and smoking and backing it up with facts
  • Encourage teenagers as they try to quit and seek online counseling if necessary

Parents should also contact a hospital immediately if their child experiences dangerous symptoms of coronavirus or vape-related lung illness. Shared symptoms include fevers and difficulty breathing.

Access more vape resources for parents right now to keep your family safe.

Author:Vape Danger Editorial Team
Vape Danger Editorial Team

Vape Danger helps people understand the dangers of vape and e-cigarette products. Vaping devices are marketed as a safe alternative to traditional cigarettes. However, vape pens and other devices may cause serious injuries and illnesses. The Vape Danger editorial team provides the latest studies and data to help readers make informed health and legal choices.

Last modified: April 24, 2020