COVID Is Prompting Youthful Vapers to Quit

COVID-19 has had at least one positive effect on health: Vaping, the use of e-cigarettes, among teens and young adults has decreased markedly since the beginning of the pandemic.

A survey reported Dec. 3 on the JAMA Network Open says almost a third — 32.8% — of young adult users 13-24 that changed their e-cigarette use since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic quit vaping. Another 35.3% reduced their use of e-cigarettes. Not all e-cigarette users changed their smoking habit, but 56.4% of the survey participants did.

One of the two researchers, Bonnie Halpern-Felsher, a developmental psychologist and professor of pediatrics at Stanford University, told HealthDay, “One of the main reasons they quit is that they were worried about lung health, and we think that’s important, that they thought they could hurt their lungs.”

Vaping already was on the decline according to a CDC and FDA survey conducted just before the COVID shutdown in March. The report published in September found 20% of high school students and 5% of middle school students were vaping in early 2020, compared with 28% of high school students and 11% of middle school students in 2019.

The just published survey said who quit or decreased their use out of concern for their health accounted for 25% of the total. Because they were at home and their parents would know caused 15.2% to quit or cut back. Another 19.5% said it was because they couldn’t get the products. Almost a third (32.1%) said a combination of those factors were responsible.

There’s good reason for youthful vapers to quit. Research has revealed that 13-24 year-old cigarette and e-cigarette users were much more likely than non-smokers to be diagnosed with COVID-19. Dual-users who vaped and smoked cigarettes were 7 times more likely to get a COVID diagnosis. Those who vaped only were 5 times more likely.

The newest survey also found those adhering to the stay-at-home orders were 1.5 times more likely to have reduced or quit e-cigarettes, a consequence of access being limited, a lack of socializing with other users or worries about parents or a combination.

“In this study, sheltering-in-place policies that may have limited access to retail store purchases may have helped facilitate quitting or reduced use among both underage youth and young adults,” the researchers noted.

However, they also found that “that vape shops and online platforms are routinely selling to underage youth during this pandemic.”

Photo by Chiara Summer on Unsplash

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