COVID-19 closes thousands of ‘non-essential’ vape shops but cigarettes still easily available
It seems that every day, another state governor or city mayor is urging their citizens to shelter-in-place due to the rapidly spreading COVID-19 pandemic. Entire regions of the country are suggesting that all non-essential business shut down indefinitely, which unfortunately often includes vape shops.
During his daily news conference this morning on the coronavirus, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that he is closing all public playgrounds for the foreseeable future. He also threatened to mandate an emergency law granting the police the legal authority to charge anyone who is not following the self-isolation guidelines.
In many lawmakers’ eyes, essential businesses only include grocery stores, pharmacies, banks, Wall Street, and gas stations – the most common vendor-of-choice of combustible tobacco products. By leaving vape shops off the list, many public health experts are beginning to fear that the vaping community may be unwittingly lured back into the welcoming arms of Big Tobacco.
Italy banned vape shops, until Polosa convinced them otherwise.
One of the world’s deadliest outbreaks of COVID-19 is occurring right now in Italy. Many epidemiologists estimate that Italy is about 2-3 weeks ahead of the United States in their related attempts to flatten-of the curve of the coronavirus spread.
On March 9, the Italian government put its entire population on immediate lockdown. It was supposed to last until April 3 – just two days from now. Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte is reported to be considering a staggered re-opening of businesses later this week, but he could just as easily extend the lockdown for several weeks.
Luckily Italian vapers don’t have to worry about their local vape shops and e-commerce sites being closed throughout the crisis. Although the Italian government initially considered vape shops to be non-essential businesses in the early days of the outbreak, Dr. Riccardo Polosa of the University of Catania came to their rescue.
By coordinating with several federal agencies and top government officials, Polosa was successful in changing their minds to allow vape shops to remain open. His reasoning was that closing them would cause vapers to relapse into smoking. And the Italian government seems to have agreed.
Texas vape shop owner is fighting the system
At least one vape shop owner in San Antonio appears to share Dr. Polosa ’a view. When Mayor Ron Nirenberg ordered certain businesses shuttered across the city last month, the proprietor of Texas Vape, Richard Tisdale, 81, discovered that he was expected to immediately close his doors.
According to Express News, Mr. Tisdale is refusing. “People need vaping equipment to keep them from smoking cigarettes. We have soldiers who come in. And they’re under a lot of stress. And they need their vape.”
Tisdale is also using some rather creative strategies to help his customers get their vapes. He initially started stocking hand sanitizer so that he could classify as an “essential” business, but that didn’t work out as planned. Today, he allows his customers to come to the locked front door, knock, and wait for Tisdale or one of his employees to complete the transaction right on the doorstep.
(Image courtesy of Shutterstock)