COVID-19 Implications for Tobacco and Nicotine Users

As the COVID-19 pandemic wreaks its havoc upon the world’s population, those with compromises to their respiratory and immune systems are particularly vulnerable to the ravages of this disease. Per the August, 2020 article by Dr. Stanton Glantz,56 “Smoking makes COVID worse if you get it and smoking — and vaping — increase the risk of being infected and developing COVID‑19.” He also cites an important recent study which addresses vaping and young users.

“On August 11, 2020, Shivani Mathur Gaiha and Bonnie Halpern-Felsher from Stanford and Jing Cheng from UCSF addressed this problem in a study that used a population-based sample of youth and young adults, “Association between youth smoking, electronic cigarette use and COVID‑19. Among young people (ages 13‑24) COVID‑19 diagnosis was five times more likely among ever-users of e-cigarettes only, seven times more likely among ever-dual-users, and 6.8 times more likely among past 30-day dual-users.

These findings are particularly important as the case mix of people getting COVID is moving to younger people, perhaps reflecting increased exposures due to reduced social distancing and a lack of understanding about factors exacerbating COVID-related risk in this age group.”

As scientists and public health officers learn more about COVID‑19, it will become clearer how health care providers will need to address how to help this subset of patients using these products. Already, smoking cessation counselors have adapted by using Zoom or similar support systems to help their clients. With patients being further stressed by the COVID‑19 pandemic, and being forced to mitigate their behaviors, the desire to use nicotine as a stress breaker looms even larger and presents even more of a challenge to patients and healthcare providers alike.