Young adults who vape were more likely to develop wheeze and other respiratory issues within one year of vaping, according to a study funded by the American Lung Association (ALA) and published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

The researchers report that youth who vape had greater incidence of self-reported respiratory symptoms, such as wheezing, dry cough during sleeping and wheezing during exercise, within 12 months of use. These symptoms were reported regardless of former combustible cigarette use, according to researchers at Boston University School of Public Health.

Specifically, the study found that:

  • Current e-cigarette users had 
    • 32% greater odds of developing any respiratory symptom and 
    • 51% greater odds of developing wheezing in the chest. 
  • Former e-cigarette users had 
    • 20% greater odds of developing any respiratory symptom and 
    • 41% greater odds of developing wheezing in the chest.

“The present study finds a significant prospective association of vaping with subsequent respiratory symptom development in a large, nationally representative cohort of young adults with no previous history of respiratory symptoms,” said Dr. Stokes. “This evidence highlights an urgent public health imperative for more robust regulatory standards at all levels of government to stop the youth vaping epidemic in its tracks.” 

“This study provides more evidence that e-cigarettes are harmful to the lungs and that the US FDA needs to provide stronger public health protections from these products including removing all flavored products from the marketplace,” said Albert Rizzo, MD, chief medical officer for the American Lung Association. “This research adds further evidence that there is no safe e-cigarette and that vaping is harmful to your health.” 

Additionally, the study reported that tobacco flavored e-cigarette users had 170% greater odds of developing any respiratory symptom compared to never users. The Lung Association has called on the FDA to create a standard and define which chemicals should go into the tobacco flavored e-cigarettes. The organization recognizes that all flavors in e-cigarettes are additives and there is no “tobacco” flavor inherent in e-cigarettes. This article used data from the PATH study (Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health), a longitudinal study tracking changes in tobacco use over time among participants. This article looked at young adults (aged 18-24 years) who were current or former e-cigarettes users and had no respiratory disease or symptoms prior to entering the study. Dr. Stokes is currently funded by the American Lung Association’s Public Policy Research Award, a new award empowering scientists to examine public policy issues that impact lung health.