HCN News & Notes

Gándara Center Warns Vaping Can Increase Coronavirus Risk, Worsen Infection

WEST SPRINGFIELD — Health experts say that vaping can increase the risk of developing coronavirus by compromising the respiratory system — and infections from the virus could be worse for vapers, according to Gándara Center, the host agency for the Hampden County Tobacco Free Partnership (TFCP).

“We all know that smoking is harmful to one’s lungs,” TFCP Director Sara Moriarty said. “As our lives are disrupted by the coronavirus, this fact raises concerns about the damaging impact the illness may have on those who smoke or vape.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) previously warned about a life-threatening vaping illness called e-cigarette or vaping-associated lung injury (EVALI). In fact, some states, including Massachusetts, are issuing specific health advisories on vaping and COVID-19. Cases of EVALI provide evidence that vaping can cause direct lung damage, and may put e-cigarette users into a higher-risk category, according to Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey. Her advisory also mentions that the hand-to-mouth contact when using vaping devices could help spread coronavirus.

Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, noted that, “because it attacks the lungs, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 could be an especially serious threat to those who smoke tobacco or marijuana or who vape.”

Moriarty points out that, while the long-term impact of vaping is not clear, there is evidence coming out that vaping, like smoking, harms the ability of the lungs to fight infection. “Despite the stressful times we’re living in, people who smoke or vape may want to quit to improve their ability to fight the coronavirus,” she said. “The stress may have led others to relapse and start smoking or vaping again. It’s never too late to try to quit.”

People who smoke and vape know how hard it is to quit because nicotine, the drug in tobacco and vaping products, is highly addictive,” Moriarty added. “Repeated tobacco and nicotine use is an addiction, and quitting can takes several tries before one can quit for good. Many tobacco users say quitting is the hardest thing they’ve ever done. However, with planning, support, and dedication, many people quit for good.”