Vaping only increases chance of spreading Covid-19 by 1% in most cases
Alarmist news stories have incorrectly suggested that vaping can increase the chances of spreading Covid-19 by up to 20%. However, one of the authors of the research has outed the journalists for irresponsible coverage as the sensationalist headlines are both overstated and misleading.
One of the authors of the research in question was Roberto Sussman, Associate Professor at National Autonomous University of Mexico. The findings from the paper were in fact positive for vaping and show that the increased transmission rate of Covid-19 through vapour exhalation is negligible and much lower than the increased risk from talking.
Vaping increases risk of spreading Covid-19 by just 1% in 90% of cases
The study showed that for the vast majority of vapers (90%), the rate of potential coronavirus transmission increases by just 1% when vaping. The 90% consists of Mouth to Lung vapers. For Direct Lung vapers using a high-powered, sub-ohm kit to produce large clouds of vapour, this rate can increase to 5 – 17%.
Is this worrying? When put into context it really isn’t and these figures are not cause for concern. Even the upper limit, 17%, is much lower than the increased transmission rates from every day actions like coughing sneezing and even just talking. Simply speaking for 6 minutes during an hour increases the risk of spreading the virus by 44%. That’s more than 2.5 times the risk as the unlikely worst-case scenario observed with vaping. Moreover, coughing or sneezing can increase the risk by more than 200%, yet these figures were not referred to in either mainstream media article.
Actual findings vs Media Conclusions
The key conclusion to be taken from the study is that 90% of vapers are just 1% more likely to transmit Covid-19 whilst vaping. 1% more, that is, than somebody who is just breathing, but considerably less than someone who is talking. However, that headline doesn’t sell newspapers so this is what they actually said.
“Vapers up to 17% more likely to spread coronavirus because it gets blown around when they breathe out”.
“Vapers with Covid-19 up to 20 per cent more likely to transmit it than infected non-smoker”.
The stories also suggested that experts had called for vaping bans in indoor spaces and at bus stops and queues. However, those claims were not supported with quotes or citations.
This type of scaremongering has plagued vaping throughout its existence. Many experts have now spoken out about the threat of misleading anti-vaping headlines, and this latest study is no different. However, this time it is the author of the study himself who has spoken out about how his research has been misquoted.
Lead author of the study hits back at sloppy journalism
Lead Author, Roberto Sussman took to Twitter with the aim of righting the wrongs caused by the media. He wrote:
“Misquoting our article. 17% added risk only in extreme vaping, 1% risk in vaping done by 90% of vapers, emitting 80 droplets/puff, NOT “thousands of virus”. We didn’t recommend bans in restaurants & train stations @Vaping_Industry @CASAAmedia @DailyMailUK”
“Sloppy journalism spreads contagion panic thru infrequent “big clouds” when 90% of UK vapers use low powered devices (risk = 1%). No mention that contagion risk is 44% for speaking 6 minutes in 1 hour. @LindaBauld @Vaping_Industry @Clive_Bates @Telegraph”
Whether it’s a ploy to cause controversy and increase readership, or if it’s driven by a more malicious anti-vaping agenda, this type of misleading news coverage continues to appear, and undoubtedly has a detrimental effect on people’s perceptions of vaping. Now more than ever, smokers should be urged to quit, and the most successful way to do so is with the help of an e-cigarette. However, unfair negative press makes the beneficial switch to vaping seem less appealing for smokers. This is in turn leaves more smokers continuing their habit, resulting in a missed opportunity for public health.
For the millions of vapers who have already made the life changing switch to e-cigarettes, it’s important to remind ourselves to always be courteous when vaping around others, but if you’re a Mouth to Lung vaper then your risk of spreading Covid-19 is only increased by 1% when vaping. If you’re a Direct Lung vaper then your chances of spreading the virus could be increased to 17%, so bear this in mind when vaping around others. However, you should also remember that simply talking for 6 minutes in an hour without a face covering increases the risk by 44%, so if you’re going to have a chat without a mask, you may as well blow clouds as well. We suggest neither of those as a terribly good idea.