No more COVID-19 cases among e-cigarette users

E-cigarettes do not seem to affect the risk of contracting COVID-19, according to a new study from the UK. However, the pandemic has changed the habits of those who vejp.

Researchers at the UK College of London wanted to find out how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected e-cigarette users in the UK. 2800 people were included in a statistical study, a quarter of whom were current or former vejp users. Non-smokers, smokers and people using nicotine medicines were also included in the data, which was collected during the country's first major lockdown in spring 2020.

COVID-19 and e-cigarettes

The preliminary results show that there was no difference between non-smokers, vejpers or those using nicotine medicines in terms of reported symptoms for COVID-19. However, the frequency was significantly higher among smokers.

"Current smokers had higher odds of developing symptoms of COVID-19, including those who had quit smoking long ago. However, we saw no difference between those using e-cigarettes or nicotine medicines as a substitute for cigarettes," the researchers write in their analysis.

No less risk with nicotine

Previous studies have indicated that smokers are under-represented among patients hospitalised for COVID-19. And according to an untested theory, nicotine may protect smokers from initial infection. However, the current study did not show such an association. 

'Apart from smoking itself, we couldn't see any difference that indicated that nicotine was a factor. But the study is based on self-reporting, not diagnoses. It may be that smokers experience other symptoms, similar to COVID-19, more often than non-smokers," the researchers write.

The researchers also noted that hand hygiene was good among all groups in the survey, whether they used nicotine or not. Around 85 per cent reported washing their hands thoroughly when they got home and before meals. However, the biggest difference was between non-smokers and recent quitters, with non-smokers being better at washing their hands.

Breathing more during the pandemic

Another observation made by the researchers was that current vejpers and ex-vejpers changed their vejp habits due to the pandemic. Half of the e-cigarette users reported that they vejped as usual during the period, while as many as 40 per cent reported that they vejped more than before. About half of the ex-vejpers in the study also reported that they had started vejping again.

"Common causes were increased feelings of stress and withdrawal. Not necessarily linked to the pandemic" writes News Medical magazine in an article about the study.

E-cigarettes do not increase risks

The researchers behind the report conclude that the pandemic has not significantly increased quit attempts in the UK. However, one in ten e-cigarette users had quit vejpa, due to fear of Covid-19.

"One reason for the fear may be media reports that e-cigarettes increase the risk of Covid-19. However, there is currently no scientific evidence that this is the case," the researchers write.

Most popular stop smoking method

Although e-cigarettes pose some health risks, UK authorities, medical societies and health organisations estimate the risks to be as follows significantly lower than for cigarettes. Taping is currently the most popular method for quitting smoking in the UK.

The College of London study was funded by Cancer Research UK (British Cancer Society).


Study: Associations between vaping and Covid-19: Cross-sectional findings from the HEBECO study

Article: Associations between vaping and COVID-19: cross-sectional findings from the HEBECO study

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