A new study has found that teens and young adults who vape are more likely to contract COVID-19 than those who do not. The study recommends that regulators address the growing popularity of e-cigarettes, especially now that the proportion of young people being diagnosed with COVID-19 has risen dramatically.

In a study published today in the “Journal of Adolescent Health,” researchers at Stanford University reveal that young people who vape and smoke cigarettes are seven times more likely to be infected with the new coronavirus than those who do not. Young people who only vape are also five times as likely to contract the disease.

In recent weeks, there has been a rise in the number of younger people testing positive for COVID-19. Earlier this month, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that out of the 6 million people with COVID-19, the percentage of patients aged 15 to 24 has tripled from 4.5 percent in February to 15 percent in July. According to researchers, the vulnerability of the younger people to the deadly disease should prompt regulators to do something about the growing popularity of vapes among the members of the age group.

“When I first started seeing the stories come out that adolescents and young adults were suddenly being diagnosed with COVID-19 and actually getting sick from it, one of the thoughts I had was, ‘wow, could this study partly explain that?’” says Bonnie Halpern-Felsher, one of the authors of the Stanford paper.

It remains unknown how exactly vaping increases one’s risk of acquiring the disease but the authors believe that vaping has negative effects on the lungs and the immune system in general that make it easier for the new coronavirus to infect a person’s respiratory system. The paper also notes that vapers may be more exposed to the virus for some reasons, as people who vape normally share devices and touch their faces more as they puff.

The researchers note that their findings are yet another proof that e-cigarettes are not healthy for the body. “This is yet one more sign that e-cigarettes are unhealthy,” said Halpern-Felsher. “Look, this is a pandemic, this is the time for you to quit and not start vaping.”

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