SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- Health experts report that people who vape are at higher risk of contracting the coronavirus.

“People who vape are at higher risk of developing of coronavirus. If they do end up with coronavirus, they are at higher risk of ending up in the hospital or suffering from more severe cases of coronavirus,” said Sara Moriarty, program director with the Hampden County Tobacco-Free Partnership, a program with the Gandara Center. 

As the coronavirus continues to spread, some local health experts said Friday that those who vape or smoke are at a greater risk of contracting COVID-19.

Moriarty said people who vape are already putting themselves at-risk for developing respiratory related health issues.

“Anytime anybody is choosing to smoke, or use any kind of tobacco product - marijuanna, any kind of smoking product - they are putting their respiratory system at-risk. Right there, you’re at a higher risk for developing some sort of respiratory illness,” Moriarty explained.

Vaping involves a lot of hand-to-mouth contact, Moriarty said, and this also increases the chance for COVID-19 exposure.

“The one thing we have heard over and over again is keep your hands away from your face. Don’t touch your face. Don’t touch your eyes, your mouth, your nose, and people who vape are constantly putting their vape in their mouth, touching their mouth over and over again, so they are at higher risk right there,” Moriarty noted.

Moriarty also said there is significant stress associated with the coronavirus pandemic and this could cause a relapse for some ex-vapers.

“I know it’s really easy for people to fall back on smoking or vaping as a way to deal with stressful situations like this, but it’s so important for people to reach out and get the support that they need right now because of the link between the respiratory illness and coronavirus,” Moriarty noted.

She said there are many support systems available here in western Massachusetts.

“People can access 1-800-QUIT-NOW, the state is offering eight weeks of nicotine replacement therapy right now for people,” Moriarty said.

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