WASHINGTON, D.C. — The headlines were alarming. “Vaping Links to COVID-19 Becoming Clear,” blared the New York Times. “We need to tell everyone” about the connection between vaping and COVID-19, urged one supposed expert to USA Today. The message was clear: in the midst of a pandemic, vaping by anyone — including ex-smokers looking to stay off cigarettes — was dangerous.
Not so, according to a new high-quality study published in the Journal of Primary Care & Community Health by researchers from the Mayo Clinic. In contrast to the results of a much-criticized online survey conducted by anti-vaping activists at Stanford University, this study utilized the patient records of nearly 70,000 people. In order to assess the risk of contracting COVID-19, the researchers sorted these patients by their tobacco usage status — current or former use and whether current users smoke, vape, or use both products.
The authors found no association between the current use of vaping products and a COVID-19 diagnosis. Furthermore, much like many studies conducted around the world, the authors reported the counter-intuitive finding that current smokers were at a lower risk of infection of COVID than nonsmokers. The risk for dual users — those using both e-cigarettes and cigarettes — fell in between the two groups.
Gregory Conley, president of the pro-vaping advocacy organization the American Vaping Association, commented:
Last year, health journalists breathlessly reported on the supposed link between vaping and COVID-19, with few stopping to ask whether the evidence was as strong as was being promoted by anti-vaping activists. We are not naïve enough to think that activists will step forward and correct the record, but we have different expectations of journalists. Despite being alerted to the new study, the same journalists who covered speculation and low-quality online surveys have not covered this new Mayo Clinic study. Thanks to their unwillingness to admit they may have listened to the wrong sources, the oft-repeated and wrong claim that vaping is linked to COVID-19 is not going to go away.
The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us a lot about the world we live in. Among those lessons is that there is no crisis that tobacco control will not shamelessly exploit to try to win support for their preferred policies.
Thus far, the only outlets to cover the Mayo Clinic study are Slate (Jacob Grier) and Reason (Guy Bentley). An author on the study, Dr. Tulsi Jose, recently joined Twitter and is tweeting about the study.
About the American Vaping Association
The American Vaping Association is a nonprofit organization that advocates for fair and sensible regulation of vapor products, otherwise known as electronic cigarettes, with the goal of maximizing the number of adult smokers who use these products to quit smoking. The AVA was founded by Gregory Conley, a consumer and industry advocate with a long track record of advocating for vapor products dating back to 2010.
We are dedicated to educating the public and government officials about public health benefits offered by vapor products, which are battery-powered devices that heat a liquid nicotine or nicotine-free solution and create an inhalable vapor. The AVA is not a trade group and does not speak for any particular businesses, including our industry sponsors.