Just in time for all of the meme-riddled NFL players quitting smoking, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released a new report revealing startling links between the e-cigarette and dangerous respiratory infections. Apparently, vaping can serve as a way to transmit viruses from person to person, which is more bad news for those of us who have become so addicted to nicotine that we're ambivalent about putting it away.

Image: The CDC

To draw comparisons to smoking (which the CDC is now calling a habit "cheated out of its health", and reducing the nicotine content in e-cigarettes to 10mg per ml), the study compares e-cigarette use and respiratory infections. It revealed that the levels of a particular virus called enterovirus-71 (EV-71) in saliva and nasal secretions could be directly connected to e-cigarette use. The infection is a common virus found in kids, so it's not entirely surprising that someone using an e-cigarette might show some susceptibility to the disease. But these findings stand out because they suggest that vaping might actually increase risk of infection for people who are not already infected.

The authors also found one sample in which e-cigarette use preceded the second cold-like illness that typical respiratory infections cause (post-nasal drip) in this case.

"Public health officials and clinicians need to be aware of the potential for aerosol inhalation to spread viruses," the authors write. And with the recent rise in e-cigarette use, understanding how e-cigarette use could transmit viruses could be very important.

The CDC asked about 41,000 adults about e-cigarette use, and reported how many had experienced breathing problems (post-nasal drip), bronchitis, ear infections or ear problems (perforated eardrums) over the last two years. The numbers were higher in states that favoured one particular brand over another.

"While it's premature to draw firm conclusions about how exposure to e-cigarettes may contribute to community illnesses," the authors conclude, "and to make assumptions about how easily respiratory illnesses are transmitted through e-cigarette vapour, it is important for public health professionals to learn more about the relationship between e-cigarette use and respiratory viruses."