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Electronic cigarette use and risk of COVID-19 among young adults without a history of cigarette smoking


It is unknown whether use of e-cigarettes increases susceptibility to COVID-19. In a large clinical sample of young adults, we evaluated whether current or ever e-cigarette use was associated with polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-confirmed COVID-19. To address the confounding of combustible smoking, the sample was restricted to never smokers. This retrospective cohort study analyzed data from the electronic health records of 74,853 young adults (aged 18-35 years), without a history of cigarette smoking, who were screened for e-cigarette use (current, former, never) in the Kaiser Permanente Northern California (KPNC) healthcare system from 3/5/2020 (baseline) to 11/30/2020 (pre-vaccine). COVID-19 risk was estimated in time-to-event analyses using multivariable Cox proportional hazard regression models, adjusted for socio-demographics and medical comorbidities. E-cigarette status in the cohort was: 1.6% current, 1.2% former, and 97.2% never. During follow-up, 1965 (2.6%) patients acquired COVID-19. We did not find evidence that current (vs never) e-cigarette use was associated with risk of COVID-19 (aHR = 1.12 95%CI:0.77-1.62). However, we did find suggestive evidence that former (versus never) e-cigarette use may be associated with greater risk of COVID-19 (aHR = 1.39 95%CI:0.98-1.96). While e-cigarette use is associated with health risks for young adults, results from this study suggest that current use of e-cigarettes may not increase susceptibility for COVID-19 among young adults who have never smoked cigarettes.

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