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In a letter addressed to FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn on Tuesday, Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, the chairman of the Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy, called on the federal agency to “clear the market of all e-cigarettes, temporarily, for the duration of the coronavirus crisis.”
Despite the subcommittee presenting the results of early studies indicating that coronavirus presents greater risks to e-cigarette users, Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill., said “The FDA declined to act, citing the need for more evidence that vaping is a risk factor for contracting coronavirus."
“That failure to act cost us four months of harm to Americans that we cannot get back,” the congressman wrote. “The science is now in: e-cigarette users are much likelier to be diagnosed with COVID-19 and to experience symptoms.”
His letter cited a new study published Tuesday in the Journal of Adolescent Health that found adolescents and young adults aged 13 to 24 who smoke e-cigarettes are five times more likely than non-vapers to be diagnosed with COVID-19. The study led by Stanford University’s Dr. Bonnie Halpern-Felsher, also found those who vaped and smoked combustible cigarettes in the last 30 days are nearly seven times more likely than nonusers to be diagnosed with COVID-19 and almost five times more likely to experience symptoms.
Krishnamoorthi said the findings were “particularly concerning, given that young people are increasingly driving the spread of COVID-19, threatening the health and safety of Americans of all ages.”
Those who vaped and smoked combustible cigarettes in the last 30 days are nine times more likely to have been tested for COVID-19 than nonusers, according to the study. Those who used e-cigarettes alone in the past 30 days were 2.6 times more likely to be tested. The findings were based on an online national survey of 4,351 adolescents and young adults aged 13 to 24 conducted in May 2020.
“It is evident that the youth vaping epidemic has combined forces with the Coronavirus pandemic, creating a much deadlier foe that demands FDA action,” Krishnamoorthi said. “If we reduce the number of vapers in America, we will reduce the unnecessary stress we are putting on our testing system. People should not have to wait weeks for COVID-19 test results—removing the risk posed by vaping will help.”