Posted by: Christie Lanasa
Date: February 8, 2021
Recent medical news is not what you want to hear if you vape and/or smoke tobacco, or have loved ones who use these products. A Stanford University School of Medicine research study published Aug. 11, 2020 in the Journal of Adolescent Health found that young adults and teens who vape are five to seven times more likely to be diagnosed with COVID-19 than those who do not use e-cigarettes. The 13-24 year olds in the study who used cigarettes AND vaped were 6.8 times more likely to be diagnosed with COVID-19 compared to those who never used tobacco.
Other emerging studies suggest vapes, IQOS (electronic devices that heat tobacco leaves to produce an inhalable aerosol, instead of burning tobacco like traditional cigarettes), water pipes, and cigarettes may make lungs more susceptible to respiratory infections and the COVID-19 virus. In a March 2020 editorial published in the Journal of Clinical Medicine, Kielan Darcy McAlinden and her colleagues explored the increased vulnerability of lung cells in tobacco users due to the pro-inflammatory response caused by any of these tobacco products. They found damaged cells and airways, and that the gene that encodes the receptor ACE2, that COVID-19 uses to infect cells, is more active in smokers than nonsmokers.
Vape aerosol and cigarette smoke compromise the heart and lungs, two areas that are attacked by the COVID-19 virus. These products inflame lung cells, making it harder for the lungs to fight off infections as effectively. So while it may sound strange to say a pandemic is a good time to give up vaping and smoking, quitting is a significant way to protect yourself from added susceptibility to COVID-19. And it’s easier to do when you have access to a practical, effective method of quitting. People stop using tobacco every day, even during the most stressful times.
Vaping and other tobacco products contain nicotine, an ingredient that leads to physical, behavioral, and emotional addiction. Vaping and other forms of tobacco use contain other harmful chemicals as well, some of which are known to cause disease. Research suggests tobacco cessation counseling combined with nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) is most effective in helping adults stop using tobacco. The nicotine patch, gum, or lozenge at least doubles the effectiveness of a tobacco-free strategy.
The BeneQUIT tobacco cessation program, offered by BeneFIT Corporate Wellness, a division of Populytics, Inc., offers this gold standard of counseling and NRT for employees 18 and over. A BeneQUIT specialist with a National Certificate in Tobacco Treatment Practice (NCTTP) provides strategic telephonic counseling combined with nicotine patches, gum, or lozenges to help the participant manage withdrawal symptoms. The BeneQUIT program has a 68% tobacco free success rate reported by participants 30 days after they completed the program.
If you are a parent concerned about a child who uses tobacco, please consult your pediatrician. Mylifemyquit.com is a resource where teens can learn the facts about tobacco and vaping and get support for quitting. We recommend you have an honest, supportive discussion with your teen about the risks of vaping and cigarettes. The developing brain is even more susceptible to addictions than an adult brain, so a teen may be curious about these products, or have a lot of difficulty and stress around giving up vaping and tobacco. Encourage your teen to talk to you about how they are feeling and how you can help them manage stress, and direct them to teen-based resources.
For information about COVID-19, including what to do if you have symptoms and where to go for testing, visit Lehigh Valley Health Network’s information page on COVID-19.
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Additional source: https://erj.ersjournals.com/content/56/1/2001645