Vaping among American teens and young adults puts them at 5-7 times greater risk of contracting Covid-19 than those who don’t use e-cigarettes, according to an important new study.

Stanford University medical researchers published their findings Tuesday in the Journal of Adolescent Health. The results surprised even some of them.

The director of the study says it’s a warning to the more than 25% of U.S. high school students who use e-cigarettes.

“Young people may believe their age protects them from contracting the virus or that they will not experience symptoms of Covid-19, but the data show this isn’t true among those who vape,” study leader Shivani Mathur Gaiha said in a statement.

“Participants were asked if they had ever used vaping devices or combustible cigarettes, whether they had vaped or smoked in the past 30 days, and if they had experienced Covid-19 symptoms, been tested for Covid-19 or been diagnosed with the infectious disease,” reports the Reuters news agency.

Among those tested, those who had used only e-cigarettes were 5 times more likely to be positive for the infection. Those who both vaped and smoked traditional cigarettes were 7 times more likely.

I knew there would be a relationship,” study co-author Bonnie Halpern-Felsher told Wired magazine. “I did not expect it to be this strong of a relationship.

Halpern-Felsher said there are several reasons why tobacco use — whether by vaping, smoking or both — might make a young person more vulnerable to the virus.

“Smokers may have more lung damage,” Wired says, “Or they might be touching their hand to their mouth more often than other people, or sharing vapes, increasing their likelihood of being exposed in the first place.”

It might also be that the virus is being spread whenever vapers exhale.