John Dunne, director of the UK Vaping Industry Association responds to a Stanford University study, published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, which looked into the relationship between vaping and Covid-19:
“Whilst we welcome any research which can assist people in staying safe during the Covid-19 pandemic, the UKVIA is disappointed by the Stanford-led study which appears to dismiss the vital harm-reduction role of vaping for smokers. The study draws disproportionate conclusions, is fundamentally flawed and inconclusive.
“Much of the study’s coverage has focused on a possible link between youth vaping and the risk of catching Covid-19. It’s important to point out that the issue of youth vaping observed in some other countries is not representative of the situation in the UK. In fact, less than 0.1% of 11- to 18-year-olds who have never smoked are current vapers in the UK, according to Action on Smoking and Health (ASH). The UKVIA takes the matter of youth access extremely seriously, and it is due to both strong regulation and industry best-practice that the UK is a leader in this regard.
“The study fails to demonstrate a causative relationship between vaping and the Covid-19 infection, which is particularly concerning given the number of factors involved. While the leader of the study, Dr Shivani Gaiha, has attempted to account for study participants ‘sheltering in place’, this metric is self-reported and as such may be unreliable.
“Dr Gahiha’s study also considers ‘ever-use’ to indicate that a person is a vaper. When this is corrected for those who were vaping within 30-days of a Covid-19 diagnosis, the connection between vaping and the virus is no longer significant. To suggest that any use of a vaping product dramatically increases the chances of contracting Covid-19 is therefore a gross exaggeration.
“Furthermore, the UKVIA is concerned to see the researchers taking a partial approach to this research and calling upon regulation as a result of dubious findings. Putting such a call out on the back of the research seriously calls into question its purpose.
“The study is also reckless in stating that vapers are putting themselves ‘at risk of Covid-19’ by vaping. Vaping products are designed only for smokers and ex-smokers to help them quit or stay off conventional cigarettes, which is the most positive action someone can take to improve their health. Vaping’s importance in this regard cannot be understated: A clinical trial at Queen Mary University of London found vaping to be almost twice as effective as NRT, such as patches and gum.
“Public Health England have said that vaping is 95% less harmful than smoking and the UKVIA’s guidance remains clear: if you smoke you should quit entirely, and if you can’t you should consider vaping to assist you. If you don’t smoke or vape, don’t start”.