New York Mayor De Blasio, who is not a medical professional, says that vaping can increase the risk of a severe COVID-19 infection. There is no medical evidence and no scientific studies to indicate that this is the case, and the Mayor has issued his proclamation without having consulted with medical professionals beforehand. According to the CDC, older people over 60, and people with preexisting medical conditions, are more at risk. Neither the CDC nor any other public health establishment has indicated that vaping is linked to the coronavirus in any way.
Several news outlets have carried Mr. De Blasio’s claims as if they were fact issued from a medical authority, despite the fact that the claim is simply from a mayor with a political anti-vaping agenda. Although it is wise to take precautions to avoid exposure to the coronavirus, there is no reason to panic: Vaping is not going to make you get the disease, and it won’t make it worse if you do get it.
One of the questions some people have expressed is that, since nearly 90 percent of all vape products originate in China, is it possible that the virus, which also originated in China, could show up on your vape equipment? Although this is a valid concern, it is highly unlikely. Studies have shown that the virus can survive up to nine days under optimal conditions – however, transportation by sea, which is the most common method used, takes at least three weeks. Consequently, vape pen starter kits and other accessories – or any other product being shipped from China – pose no risk of bringing coronavirus into your home. If you are still worried though, standard sanitizer and disinfectant will inactivate any presence of coronavirus in less than a minute. For extra precaution, if you order vaping equipment, simply give it a quick wipe-down with an antiseptic wipe before use.
People are rightly concerned over what may make a case of COVID-19 worse. Having an underlying medical condition such as lung disease or diabetes may indeed make it worse. COVID-19 may cause lasting lung damage, and those who smoke combustible cigarettes may indeed be at risk. It is a well-known and established fact that smoking causes lung disease.
There has also been the outbreak of EVALI (e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury), which incorrectly led many to believe that vaping causes serious lung injury. It has since been proven that instances of lung disease and death were not caused by using commercial nicotine vape products, but rather, they were caused exclusively by people vaping illicit THC liquids which used Vitamin E acetate as a carrier oil. In fact, smokers who have switched to vaping are far healthier than those who continue to smoke. Mr. De Blasio is right to point out that smoking may be an aggravating factor, and smokers should be concerned. Smokers may indeed have compromised lungs, and if a smoker gets COVID-19, it may be worse than it would be for a non-smoker. But vaping is not a factor, and by creating a false equivalency between smoking and vaping, he incorrectly posits that the risk from smoking also can be equal to the risk from vaping. The Mayor has no evidence to back up his claim.
One of the few medical blogs which implies a link between vaping and smoking is that of Dr. Stanton Glantz, a discredited researcher at University of California San Francisco, whose anti-vaping research was recently retracted from the Journal of the American Heart Association because it was based on faulty data and illogical conclusions. Dr. Glantz, in his latest blog, again violates one of the major premises of scientific research, that correlation is not causation. In his blog, he notes that in an analysis of deaths from coronavirus in China, men are more likely to die than women. Dr. Glantz makes a big leap to conclude that, since Chinese men are more likely to smoke than Chinese women (again, a claim he makes with no citation), that COVID-19 deaths come from smoking. Although his logic is flawed, Dr. Glantz may have a point that smoking will make a case of COVID-19 more serious. However, he illogically and with no proof, equates smoking to vaping, and claims that vaping too, makes COVID-19 more serious. It does not. In fact, because those who have switched from smoking to vaping are no longer exposed to the toxic chemicals and harsh smoke coming from combustible cigarettes, a more logical argument would be that those who vape are in a far better position vis-à-vis coronavirus than those who smoke.