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Prior to the start of the Coronavirus pandemic in early 2020, much of the attention of the public health community was focused upon the vaping issue, and the increased participation in vaping among young people and the dangers that were becoming more obvious each day.

Now, many months after COVID-19’s arrival, there is an effort to make sure the dangers of vaping are not forgotten.  Some of the reasons are quite obvious.  For example, vaping affects the lungs by causing an oily substance to be trapped in a body organ that was not built to retain it.  And sure enough, the lungs are just one area affected and weakened by Coronavirus.  COVID-19 causes respiratory symptoms, which can include coughing, shortness of breath, and chest pains; symptoms which can all be made more severe by vaping.

Research has indicated that cigarette smoking could also increase the severity of COVID-19 symptoms.  A meta-analysis study conducted by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco found that COVID-19 patients who had a history of smoking were more likely to have severe Coronavirus disease progression than non-smokers.

In addition, as the public is being constantly reminded not to touch their faces with their hands on a frequent basis due to the presence of the COVID-19 virus, the acts of vaping and smoking certainly involve a lot of “hands to face” and “hands to mouth” contact.”

There does seem to be some positive news on attitudes towards vaping by young people.  When comparing the Illinois Youth Survey’s Will County report results from 2018 and 2020; more 8th, 10th, and 12th graders now consider vaping to be a “great risk.”  Over the past two years, 8th graders considering it a great risk jumped from 26% to 46%, 10th graders from 21% to 45%, and 12th graders 17% to 46%.

Unfortunately, there is also some negative news.  A recent Journal of Adolescent Health study showed that teens who vape are five times more likely to contract Coronavirus.  U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams says the pandemic underscores the need to get the crisis under control.  “I think it’s important that we remember this is still a problem for youth,” Adams stated.  “This (Coronavirus) epidemic has actually increased mental health issues, anxiety, and depression; which increase people’s desire to self-medicate.”

It can certainly be difficult for an individual to stop using nicotine products, regardless of the type.  The Illinois Tobacco Quitline (ITQL) employs nurses, respiratory therapists, and tobacco cessation specialists that can help you assess your addiction and develop a quitting plan that works for you.  If you smoke or vape, and would like help in quitting for good, please call 1-866-QUIT-YES (784-8937).

ITQL now offers counseling for anyone ages 13-17 without parental consent.