Even though e-cigarette- or vaping-associated lung injury (EVALI) were “a drop in the bucket” compared with COVID, vaping remains a significant health risk for teens, reported Anne Griffiths, MD, of the Children’s Hospital of Minnesota, during her presentation entitled “Updates on Youth Vaping” at the American Academy of Pediatrics virtual meeting.
According to the 2021 National Youth Tobacco Survey, 11.3% (1.72 million) of high school students (ages 16 to 18) and 2.8% (320 000) of middle school students (ages 12 to 15) reported using e-cigarettes in the past 30 days.
As more than half of youths who tried to stop vaping, there is an opportunity fo paediatricians to intervene, Dr Griffiths said.
Middle school students often start with zero-nicotine, flavour-only products before “they move on to a nicotine-based product and ultimately a THC-based product,” Griffiths noted. Of the middle and high school students who vape, 85% use flavoured products, with sweet and fruity flavours favoured.
Notably, disposable e-cigarettes are now more popular than refillable pods and cartridges this year, with 53.7% of all vaping students reporting use of these products. This comes down to messaging not to reuse vaping products during COVID, Dr Griffiths said.
However, vaping could be a risk factor for COVID, being diagnosed five times more often in vaping adolescents, according to a study in the Journal of Adolescent Health.
E-cigarette flavouring can suppress innate immune function, as demonstrated by studies. Others have shown that e-cigarette vapour may increase ACE2 expression in the lungs, which the receptor that enables entry of SARS-CoV-2 into host cells.
Adolescents presenting with EVALI or COVID (or both) can be differentiated Dr Griffiths said. The patient’s reaction to steroid treatment can be diagnostic: “Unlike SARS-CoV-2 where the [patient’s] improvement might be subtle [with a] gradual response to steroids, in EVALI, one day on high-dose steroids and they feel like a million bucks in comparison.”
In addition, EVALI may present with leukocytosis and high erythrocyte sedimentation rates and C-reactive protein levels, while COVID patients are more likely to have lymphopenia.
Dr Griffiths that in spite of the risks of vaping, “there’s an entire culture surrounding [kids] that can glamorise vaping life.”
Vaping companies reach out to children using methods such as YouTube vape championships, in which competitors perform various smoke tricks. In addition, vaping companies provide scholarships to students, often requiring them to write an essay on the benefits of vaping.
Source: MedPage Today