Prevention and Intervention

Vaping and Youth

Key Facts

  • Vapes are also call electronic cigarettes, e-cigarettes, and electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS).
  • Using a vape is most commonly called vaping.
  • Vapes work by heating a liquid to produce an aerosol that users inhale into their lungs.
  • The liquid can contain: nicotine, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabinoid (CBD) oils, and/or other substances and additives.
  • Vapes aerosol contains poisons, carcinogens, and toxic metals.
  • The most commonly used vapes by teens are disposable or pod-style vapes that come in many flavors and sizes.

Vaping linked to COVID-19 risk in teens and young adults

Researchers at Stanford Medicine found that teenagers and young adults who vape face a much higher risk of COVID-19 than their peers who do not vape.

This study is the first to examine connections between youth vaping and COVID-19 using U.S. population-based data collected during the pandemic.

Among young people who were tested for the virus that causes COVID-19, researchers found that those who vaped were five to seven times more likely to be infected than those who did not use e-cigarettes.

“Teens and young adults need to know that if you use e-cigarettes, you are likely at immediate risk of COVID-19 because you are damaging your lungs,” said the study’s senior author, Bonnie Halpern-Felsher, PhD, professor of pediatrics.

“Young people may believe their age protects them from contracting the virus or that they will not experience symptoms of COVID-19, but the data show this isn’t true among those who vape,” said the study’s lead author, postdoctoral scholar Shivani Mathur Gaiha, PhD. She added “This study tells us pretty clearly that youth who are using vapes or are dual-using [e-cigarettes and cigarettes] are at elevated risk, and it’s not just a small increase in risk; it’s a big one.”

Overall, smoking or vaping increases someone’s risk for COVID-19 because:

  • The immune system is suppressed making the lungs less ready to fight a COVID-19 infection.
  • The lungs produce more of the ACE2 receptor/protein, which acts as a “doorway” for the virus.
  • Those who reported smoking and were hospitalized due to pneumonia from COVID-19 were less likely to recover.
  • The risk of transmitting the virus is greater since fingers are in contact with lips from holding the nicotine product.
  • The risk of transmitting the virus is greater if sharing a nicotine product such as a water pipe or hookah.

Vaping Resources