Over the past weeks where this pandemic has been hitting the main stream media have suggested vaping could be a risk factor for either contracting or increasing the severity of COVID-19. These reports are entirely based on the speculation from anti-vaping advocates, the same folks who had thrown vaping under the bus for 6 months in the latter half of 2019.
Surgeon General Jerome Adams stated without evidence that vaping could be the reason young people may be at higher risk from COVID-19 which of course only added to the anti-vape propaganda. “There are theories that it could be because we know we have a higher proportion of people in the United States and also in Italy who vape,” said Adams on NBC’s Today Show back on March 23.
Finally yesterday the Food and Drug Administration told Bloomberg News, “E-cigarette use can expose the lungs to toxic chemicals, but whether those exposures increase the risk of COVID-19 is not known.” which is a refreshingly honest take from the FDA for once.
While seemingly innocuous that statement contrasts significantly from those of Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Volkow who apparently wants to broadcast she knows nothing recently wrote in the Annals of Internal Medicine that vapers could be at high risk for COVID-19.
Jumping on the bandwagon or perhaps he was always on it Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey boneheadedly went so far as to issue an advisory warning that vaping could actually worsen the spread of COVID-19. Of course let's not forget last month when New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio proclaimed; “If you are a smoker or a vaper that does make you more vulnerable.”
Earlier Bloomberg News published a story with the headline: “Vaping Could Compound Health Risks Tied to Virus, FDA Says,” which immediately prompted Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller and 12 other public health experts to write to the FDA to complain. The signatories warned the FDA that if its communications are, “arbitrary and ill-conceived, spreading fear and confusion with little scientific basis and with unpredictable consequences, then it would be better if FDA and its media spokespeople did not comment further at this time.”
The FDA finally appears to be taking this advice seriously. There is currently no evidence from anywhere in the world showing that vaping eLiquids puts anyone at higher risk for COVID-19.
The Science Media Research Center recently released statements from public health experts to help reporters understand what we do know about smoking, vaping, and COVID-19. “There is no evidence that vaping increases the risk of infection or progression to severe conditions of COVID-19,” said Dr. Caitlin Notley. She added that since switching from smoking to vaping improves cardiovascular and respiratory conditions that smokers who switch “might be expected to have a better prognosis if infected by COVID-19.”
This is all similar to last year’s outbreak of lung illnesses that were wrongly associated with conventional e-cigarettes and conflated into vaping as an issue in general, that was all later found to be the result of adulterated black market marijuana filled THC cartridges.
Another pair of bad players in this game are the Campaign for Tobacco Free-Kids and Parents Against Vaping Electronic Cigarettes which have consistently promoted stories linking vaping and the CORVID-19. On April 15 they even promoted a campaign to tell the White House that vape shops are not essential businesses.
“There is growing concern among public health experts that e-cigarettes can put users at greater risk for serious complications from COVID-19, these products are addicting our kids, and they have not been proven to help smokers quit,” the Campaign for Tobacco Free-Kids put out in a public statement.
That statement is obviously disingenuous if not outright libelous. Vaping has been proven beyond any reasonable doubt to be far safer than combustible cigarettes and consistently shown to help smokers quit. Italy, Spain, France, and Switzerland are keeping their vape shops open because they recognize the public health benefit of ensuring access to safer alternatives to cigarettes.
As the economy starts back up and world gets back to normal slowly over the next few months, will the anti-vaping groups really keep up their attacks on vaping? Probably. Will they win out in the end? Not a chance. Science and facts are on the side of vaping, and with any luck we'll see the end of smoking in this decade. What do you think about all of this? Will anti-vapers shut up? Will vaping put smoking to the wayside of history?