Health professionals warn that vaping products can increase the risk of developing acute COVID-19 complications due to respiratory and lung damage.
Vaping and COVID-19: A Deadly Combination
There are many known health risks associated with vaping products. Recently, health professionals issued a new set of warnings that links vaping products to increased risk of developing acute complications of COVID-19. Since the coronavirus attacks the respiratory system, people who use vaping products and contract COVID-19 may suffer very serious complications due to previous respiratory and lung damage caused by vaping. With symptoms that include shortness of breath and deep intense coughing, people with diminished lung function are not able to manage COVID-19 illness very well.
According to the Massachusetts General Hospital and the Massachusetts Attorney, vaping products and cigarettes both increase the risk of severe COVID-19 illness because they lower immune function. During the pandemic, it’s been proven that people with immune deficiency problems have a higher risk of COVID-19 infection. Massachusetts Attorney General, Maura Healey, has issued COVID-19 warnings linked to vaping products for all Massachusetts residents and the general public.
Increased risks of COVID-19 complication poses significant dangers to young people who are the main users of vaping products. There have been several cases of teens and young adults who used vaping products that developed life-threatening complications or died after contracting COVID-19. In March, the New York City Mayor informed the public that a 22-year-old Brooklyn man was diagnosed with COVID-19 and hospitalized. The young man did not have any pre-existing conditions that increased his risk for contracting the virus, except the fact that he was a regular user of vaping products.
Dr. Alicia Casey, a doctor at Boston Children’s Hospital, is very concerned about the risks of COVID-19 illness related to vaping. Dr. Casey specializes in lung diseases in children and teens. Since the outbreak of EVALI, a vaping or e-cigarette-associated lung injury, 2,800 young people have been hospitalized and 68 have died due to severe lung damage. This raises alarm for children, teens, and young people who vape and become ill from COVID-19.
Due to the novel nature of coronavirus, there is not a lot of data on the impact of vaping on COVID-19 illness. However, studies do show that people who use vaping products have more severe symptoms with COVID-19 and are more likely to require a ventilator to breathe. Some studies show that vapers and smokers are more likely to die from the virus due to impaired lung function. Health warnings suggest that vaping can increase the chances that a person will be infected by COVID-19 and need hospitalization and advanced life support to survive.
Vaping and COVID-19 Litigation
Although scientific evidence does not support a direct link between vaping and COVID-19 complications, lawsuits filed by injury lawyers are anticipated. Since the virus primarily attacks the lungs, vaping is suspected to be connected with the disease in a number of different ways. Past litigation shows that unsubstantiated public concern may expose an entire industry to waves of product liability lawsuits and settlement payments for billions of dollars.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, numerous articles have been written on the link between vaping and COVID-19 complications. It’s known that vaping can lead to irreversible lung damage caused by a toxic mix of chemicals used in vaping products including:
- Formaldehyde – a known carcinogen used to preserve dead bodies
- Isoprene – a main component of rubber
- N-nitrosonornicotine – a Group 1 carcinogen used in the curing and processing of tobacco
- Propylene glycol – a chemical used in antifreeze and to de-ice airplanes
- Toluene – a solvent used in paint and nail polish, and to tan leather
The history of litigation in America is not void of precedents showing that companies were exposed to product liability claims despite the lack of scientific evidence proving causation. The most recent one was the Roundup litigation. Between 2016 and 2020, more than 42,700 plaintiffs filed lawsuits with injury lawyers against Monsanto based on claims that the active ingredient, glyphosate, in the pesticide Roundup, was a known carcinogen that caused lymphoma. The results of Roundup lawsuits are well-known. Bayer AG, Monsanto’s parent company, lost all three trials. Plaintiffs were awarded in excess of $2.4 billion, including approximately $2.3 billion in punitive damages. The company is still in remediation for settlement payments that total over $10 billion in thousands of personal injury lawsuits.
Similar to injury claims in Roundup litigation, vaping studies produce strong evidence of a link to lung damage from vaping and COVID-19 complications caused by diminished lung function. As COVID-19 illnesses and deaths continue to rise across the country, it is likely that injury lawyers will see a rise in personal injury lawsuits and possibly product liability lawsuits against manufacturers of vaping products.