While the FDA is now backtracking its initial statement, ingesting combustible smoke could lead to more serious symptoms from coronavirus.
Just three weeks ago, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced vaping or smoking could increase risk to contracting the novel coronavirus. Health officials followed their lead and warned smoking or vaping would compromise the lungs and immune system, compounding susceptibility to COVID-19.
The FDA is now walking back its initial statement. The agency states no data links smoking or vaping to increasing your risk of coronavirus infection. However, the FDA maintains the public stance that this behavior will lead to worse symptoms.
“E-cigarette use can expose the lungs to toxic chemicals, but whether those exposures increase the risk of COVID-19 is not known,” an FDA spokesperson emailed Bloomberg Wednesday.
The agency also altered its stance on cigarette smoke from previous public statements. As preliminary studies from China have shown, serious COVID-19 infections were more than twice as likely in patients who smoked versus those that didn’t.
“Cigarette smoking causes heart and lung diseases, suppresses the immune system, and increases the risk of respiratory infections,” FDA spokeswoman Alison Hunt said. “People who smoke cigarettes may be at increased risk from COVID-19, and may have worse outcomes from COVID-19.”
U.S. organizations have been left searching for answers, as rates of young coronavirus patients in America exceed those seen in China. Health officials have pointed to vaping trends in the U.S. as a possible culprit. Marijuana advocacy group NORML also advised marijuana users to refrain from ingesting combustible smoke when possible, suggesting the use of alternative cannabis delivery methods instead.
Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, wrote in a recent blog post that those suffering from substance abuse disorders could be higher risk from the coronavirus. She added that because the infection “attacks the lungs, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 could be an especially serious threat to those who smoke tobacco or marijuana or who vape. “