Closing Vape Shops Will Be a National Disaster

Closing Vape Shops Will Be a National Disaster
(AP Photo/Marshall Ritzel)
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As the coronavirus continues to spread, states are taking drastic measures to curb its spread, such as shutting down all non-essential businesses. While slowing this pandemic is vital, some states might be closing the wrong types of stores. Colorado, for instance, closed all vape shops, while leaving cigarettes sold at convenience stores completely untouched. As smokers are very susceptible to having health complications from the coronavirus, effectively banning e-cigarettes will only force more people to return to smoking and will potentially add even more people to the overloaded healthcare system.

Just recently, the U.S. topped the global list with the most coronavirus cases. Nearly 200,000 Americans have been diagnosed with the coronavirus and that number will only grow. In response, Congress has passed a stunning $2 trillion stimulus package to ensure the country doesn’t fall into a depression. Even worse, hospitals are lacking in necessary supplies, such as the N95 facemasks, and are worried about a massive shortage of hospital beds.

To further curb the coronavirus outbreak, states are rightly restricting movement as best they can in order to reduce the number of hospitalizations. Cities like San Francisco and New York City have implemented stay-at-home mandates. Most states have closed non-essential businesses, leaving essential businesses like grocery stores and banks open.

Simply put, as America grapples with this pandemic, every way to reduce the spread and impact of this virus is paramount.

However, not every state is implementing the best public policies. In Colorado, for instance, Governor Jared Polis shut down vape shops, deeming them "non-essential." At the same time, convenience stores (which sell cigarettes) and marijuana dispensaries have remained open. Why should vape shops be closed? Despite this discrepancy, the impact the coronavirus has on smokers is not good.

A report from the European Union agency for disease control reported that smoking increases the chances to suffer complications from the coronavirus. Indeed, research has found that the virus is fatal to men at a much higher rate at women, with many commenting that men smoke at a rate up to four times higher than women. With this information, what can be done?

For starters, states should recognize the impact e-cigarettes have had on smoking cessation.

According to a report by the American Consumer Institute, e-cigarettes were more commonly used to reduce dependency on cigarettes than any other form of FDA approved nicotine replacement therapy. Another peer-reviewed study in 2016 found that one-third of U.S. smokers used e-cigarettes in their last quit attempt.

Indeed, with so many people turning to e-cigarettes and ditching cigarettes, vaping could help reduce the number of people going to the hospital if they get affected by the coronavirus.

However, under current restrictions, like the one in Colorado, many people will simply return to smoking, thus increasing their risk of being hospitalized because of the coronavirus.

Some, like New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, have claimed that vaping causes the coronavirus to worsen one’s condition. In truth, there is not enough evidence to support this claim. While  vaping isn’t completely risk-free, there simply isn’t any evidence that vaping will increase the chances of getting hospitalized from the coronavirus. However, what is known for sure, is that smoking is an underlying condition that only makes the coronavirus worse, and vaping is 95% safer than smoking.

Tensions are high across the country. But closing vape shops, and hindering those who seek to quit smoking, will ultimately do more harm than good. Vape shops must be deemed essential. The health of the nation depends on it. 

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