Vape shops are a popular source for purchasing electronic cigarettes, AKA e-cigarettes, or Vapes and related goods. Apart from the products that vape stores sell, they also provide information to smokers to quit tobacco use in an effortless manner. The majority of vape store customers are vapers who have already quit smoking or in the transition phase. Vaping is a critical device for countless people in controlling their nicotine cravings. Vaping devices and flavored nicotine vape juices are the answer for many transformed smokers, about 90 percent of whom use low nicotine alternatives that are only available in vape shops. At these difficult times, vape shops play a central role in providing customers with product information, and many provide smoking cessation advice as well to combat the craving and stress.
As we all are seeing in the news lately regarding all the essential services that will remain active during these times, we come forward to see considerable discussion on what is regarded as an essential service to our society and who is considered as an essential employee during the coronavirus pandemic, COVID-19. For the past few weeks, globally, there have been various degrees of quarantines across the globe, depending from one country to another, with some states and localities taking more aggressive action. For instance, in California’s Shelter-in-Place order system for the citizens. With all this going around, it leaves vapers with some questions. Are vape shops considered an essential service or not? Are the workers of vape shops essential workers or not? Let's take a glance at why local vape shops should be regarded as an essential service in these difficult times.
What is an Essential Service
As per the United Nations’ International Labor Office (ILO), who has set out their own version of the definition of what is an essential service, regardless of the point that even their definition endures unclear and remains open to discussion. Their version of the definition says: “What is meant by essential services in the strict sense of the term depends to a large extent on the particular circumstances prevailing in a country. Moreover, this concept is not absolute, in the sense that a non-essential service may become essential if a strike lasts beyond a certain time or extends beyond a certain scope, thus endangering the life, personal safety or health of the whole or part of the population.”
At this moment, there are no clear definitions of what an essential service actually is. Lately, companies such as GameStop have tried to consider themselves as an essential service, which received a lot of backlashes as numerous retailers have been closed down to slow down or stop the spread of coronavirus. Nevertheless, there are some services that are still working and have generally been considered as essential services such as healthcare, police, the armed forces, firefighting, transportation and logistics, utility services, grocery shops, the media, and gas stations. Apart from these, there are also other services such as financial services that have been considered essential, but the definition of what an essential service has mainly been at the preference of local and state governments.
Why Vape Shops are an Essential Service during COVID-19
It is crucial to understand why the local vape shop and vape retailers should be considered an essential service, especially during the coronavirus pandemic. COVID-19 has proven to be the biggest global pandemic after the last influenza pandemic that took place in 1918. According to the United Nations’ International Labor Office (ILO), certain services can be considered as essential services in order to shield the individual safety and the health of the completer or part of the population in particular circumstances. Vape shops are the point of access for alternative nicotine products and are proven for harm reduction for the vapers. The requirement for alternative nicotine goods will not be put on halt even during the COVID-19 pandemic, just like the need for everyday groceries.
Vape shops are an essential service, especially for ex-smokers as vaping is proven to be a harm reduction method. In case the vapers or ex-smokers return back to traditional tobacco smoking alternatives, it could even worsen the issues that are being seen in the case with COVID-19. Therefore, the local vape shop should remain open and provide the products to the people to offer alternative nicotine products, which could actually be an indispensable source in helping in reducing the spread of COVID-19 or safe to say, even prevent from worsening the case. Many vape stores have begun offering pickup or delivery of their products and services. If fortunately, this is legally allowed in your area, vape shops can take the help of these times to help continue their business alongside delivering the products to regular vapers during the Coronavirus shutdown or lockdown period. Vape shops should look into the services like pickup and delivery, if legally possible, just like any other retail shop products.
Why Vape Shops should be considered as Essential Services
There are a lot of diverse views out there about considering vape shops as essential services. One day some article talks about the health benefits of vape products, and the very next day, there comes a news report that makes vaping sound threatening. If you’ve been thinking about making the final decision, it can be a confusing choice to make. In this guide, we will cover the major points that why vape shops should be counted as an essential service, so you have a clear frame of reference to decide whether it’s right to classify vape products as essential products.
- Safer than smoking: According to the Royal College of Physicians, which is a well-known organization representing over 35,000 doctors from all over the globe. They have clearly stated, based on their extensive research, that vaping is at least 95 percent safer than traditional smoking. As there is no process of combustion involved, there is no ash or tar associated with vaping, switching to it from smoking facilitates the person to experience health benefits from being free from harmful smoke. It also means better oxygen circulation, oral hygiene, skin health, lung capacity, and an improved sense of taste and smell. The other beneficial public health factor is covered in depth in the upcoming section.
- No noisome odors: One of the many benefits of vaping is that you and your environment won't stink of smoke. The flavors used in vaping may have an aroma, way much better than that of smoke from dead tobacco leaves. To many people, the smell of vapor is barely detectable, or sometimes you might even get a few compliments on the fragrance. Even the tobacco flavors won’t smell like the rank fumes that come from burning tobacco leaves. The smell of cigarettes can be quite intense and annoying to get rid of. It is often seen that your fingers, mouth, clothes, and even your house takes up the strong smell of nicotine with regular smoking, and it simply refuses to leave. The scent is particularly irritating for non-smokers. Vape, on the other hand, does not have that kind of smell as it has a bunch of amazing flavors, some of which even smells really good around a house and the fumes dissipate quickly
- Control over nicotine consumption: Vaping provides its users with full control over their nicotine intake. E-liquids are available in a range of strengths, ranging from zero nicotine to high-strength nicotine. One can choose and switch to exactly how much nicotine they want in their vape device. Most vapers who are ex-smokers prefer to start with high nicotine levels, and gradually work their way down to lower levels, or eliminate the nicotine over time.
- Control over vapor output: The notable edge of vaping is having control over the amount of vapor exhaled by the user. Smaller vape devices such as pod vape are designed for low vapor and convenience, while the high-powered mods are suitable for cloud chasing. Altering the airflow, power output, and coil type also lets you fine-tune your vapor volume according to your preference. You can go minimal or showy as you want, depending on how you prefer to vape and being annoying to people around you. Vape also does not have a bothersome nicotine smoke, which is not only disturbing but also causes discomfort in a lot of people. With the availability of natural flavors and cleaner vapor, people around vapers are not subjected to the harmful and offensive smoke.
- Instantaneous satisfaction: The comfort factor is utmost with vapes due to how swiftly one can quell their cravings. Even though the advanced vape devices come with initial trouble, lots come prefilled and are ready for immediate use, such as the disposable vapes. Either of the ways, once the vape is ready, taking a puff is as easy as pushing a button. While all vape devices require a charged battery and e-liquid to continue serving, the regular vape can sustain your whole day with nil maintenance. It’s ready to use whenever you are.
- Away from Harmful Chemicals: Traditional tobacco cigarettes contain a large amount of harmful chemicals and toxins like cyanide, arsenic, lead, ammonia, carbon monoxide, and the list goes on, all of which are big threats to human health. While smoking cigarettes, there are at least 24 harmful chemicals that are produced, all of which can lead to cancer. Whereas, vape juice contains far fewer chemicals, namely PG, VG, and flavoring. All of these ingredients that are present in e-liquid are food-grade and are FDA approved.
- Less Addictive: Unlike cigarettes, vaping is less addictive. Moreover, since users can actively control the amount of nicotine they consume per smoke, they can spread out and smoke lighter concentrations and hence, effectively reduce the nicotine intake and phase out ultimately. It is thus the best option even for those who are trying to quit smoking. Also, it has been scientifically proven that smoking is associated with incurable diseases in regular and chain smokers, such as mouth cancer, lung cancer, respiratory and cardiovascular illnesses. In Australia, commercially available vape devices should only contain zero nicotine e-liquids; that is why it is not addictive.
- Harmless to Others: Smoking does harm not only the smoker but also the people around them, which is commonly known as second-hand smoke or passive smoking. There is also a higher chance of passive smokers getting coronary diseases and even becoming a victim of cancer. Vaping is far safer for the people in the immediate proximity. Vaping fumes are also odorless vapors and have a pleasant aroma.
- Free of Residue: One more upside to vaping is that it is clear of smoke, residue, and ash. While vaping, you do not have to be always concerned about inadequate odor lingering, tobacco breath, and dirty ash. Vaping is a more reliable and safer option for you, the people around you, and the environment too. You can easily experience vaping without bothering about the consequences of smoking on your health or of people around you.
- Environment Friendly: It is a known fact that smoking itself and the litter produced are bad for the environment. Tobacco produced smoke not only jeopardizes the health of the user but also contributes to atmospheric pollution and, ultimately, to the greenhouse effect. On the other hand, vaping does not involve the kind of risk to the environment. Cigarette butts are a significant waste produced, which takes around ten years to disintegrate. Every year thousands and thousands of cigarette butts are dumped in landfills and often in oceans as well, which have an extremely negative impact on the ecosystem. When this occurs, the cellulose acetate filters of the cigarette butts discharge about 4000 chemicals into the water, harming and killing wildlife, and the worse part is that they can never be decomposed. While most modern devices can now be recycled, making them a much more environmentally sound option. Vape devices are better for the environment as they do not emit polluting compounds in the same way as regular tobacco. By moving to vape, one effectively reduces this additional pollution to the environment and prevents oneself from harm.
Case Study of Canada
On 23rd March 2020, Doug Ford, Premier of Ontario, released the list of essential services that will continue in operation during the COVID-19 outbreak and lockdown period. Despite the inclusion of liquor and cannabis-based stores, adult-only specialty vape shops and vape product stores were not explicitly noted as an essential service for the people. The Canadian Vaping Association (CVA) has regularly voiced its concerns about limiting access to harm reduction products. According to the statement given by Darryl Tempest, Executive Director of The Canadian Vaping Association, the Government of Ontario has taken many crucial actions towards protecting Ontarians' physical and mental health during the pandemic outbreak. They proposed the government continue by including vape shops as an essential service, qualifying under section 55 of the Ontario List of Essential Workplaces prepared in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tempest even went on to phrase that vaping has been proven to be the most successful tool in the fight against burnable tobacco cigarettes and other products. Vape shops provide products and services that assist the health sector by the stipulation of low nicotine harm reduction products, and also help to sustain mental health by filling the nicotine craving of vapers, the broad majority of are former smokers. According to Tempest, vaping business very certainly comes within the definition of an essential service, as given in section 55 of the Ontario List of Essential Workplaces. Unlike many of the services listed by the Ontario Government, adult only vape shops are registered with the local health units in the province of Ontario. As stated by him, by working together, all necessary measures can be easily implemented to keep Ontarians safe without adding further anxiety and stress to the lives of the hundreds of thousands of vapers in Ontario through what is an already challenging time.
Dr. Riccardo Polosa is a world-known scientist and researcher on vaping and tobacco harm reduction and the founding father of the Center of Excellence for the Acceleration of Harm Reduction (CoEHAR), based in Catania, Italy. He has shown concern that the higher possibility of vapers switching back to smoking would induce growth in acute aggravation of lung illnesses amongst many people who had already seen extremely beneficial health results from quitting traditional tobacco smoking with the help of the use of vape products. Tempest also states that the closing of adult-only access specialty vape shops would be very disturbing, both to the reformed tobacco smokers who frequent these businesses and to the already stretched health care system, at a time when the citizens and public health system need everyone's support the most to the maximum extent. Also, in accession to the gateway effect for those who will turn back to traditional smoking, the significant risks of exposing others to passive smoke, along with a host of other unintended outcomes, highlight the effect of keeping lifesaving nicotine vape products within reach of Canadians.
Vaping is Different from Smoking
Cigarettes are among the most challenging addictions to quit regardless of age and time. As provinces go, traditional tobacco smoking is undoubtedly the toughest to quit. All the discussion of the health risks of vaping begins with a comparison to cigarette smoking. But what people, in general, forget is that vapes are designed to be reduced-harm alternatives to smoking traditional tobacco cigarettes. Therefore, for us, it is important to clarify the major differences between vaping and smoking since the vast majority of vapers are either smokers or former smokers. Addressing from a scientific manner, one can not find enough studies to employ a direct comparison between vaping and smoking, which we call a missed opportunity. But it is clearly understood that smoking is bad because of its many health risks and illnesses.
Public Health England, leaving no doubt with its findings, simply states that vaping is at most concise 95 percent safer than smoking traditional cigarettes. They understand the fact that only studying the dangers of vaping is only half of the part, as vaping came into existence fundamentally as an alternative to cigarette smoking. Because there are not many studies that engage a direct comparison, the available information on vaping must be weighed against the available information on cigarette smoking, rather than in isolation.
Specifically, coming to the concern of how vaping helps people is: Vaping eases the process of dropping the nasty nicotine addiction and its cravings afterward. The fair side is that the risk of perishing from tobacco-related diseases such as lung cancer and cardiac arrest goes down significantly within a few years of stopping smoking, depending upon the level of tobacco one consumes. Vaping is the perfect aid that might help make all these efforts a lot more fruitful, in a harmless manner.
For the people who are actively seeking help to quit smoking of traditional tobacco cigarettes, they do find out that vaping helps them make the endeavors more effective and also much less nerve-racking. Possibly every ex-smoker has already made a couple of attempts to succeed in that let’s-quit-smoking pact, but they fell short every time. Industry experts are of the perspective that people who make use of some kind of assistive methods improve their chances of success, and in such cases, vaping turns out to be the most efficient and effective alternative. Therefore, it is highly recommended to assure the results when stopping smoking traditional cigarettes from making use of vaping as a solution to a better choice.
As we all know, cigarettes wreak havoc on the human body, damaging the smoker practically from head to toe, inside out. The harmful effects have been proven beyond rejection. But there is no reliable evidence pointing to similar health effects or problems from vaping, for that matter, unless one counts possible nicotine dependence. Yet, many studies have already proved that nicotine is not directly responsible for any of the harmful results that happen because of smoking. Therefore, vaping continues to be a far better option when compared to smoking.
Busting the Fallacy of Lung Related Problems and Vaping
COVID-19 preys on the lungs, and smoking cigarettes causes harm to the lungs. Long-term inhalation of burning tobacco does lead to lung and esophageal problems and cancer as well and to types of deadly lung conditions such as chronic bronchitis, emphysema, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Cigarette smoke also attacks the lungs of smokers in several ways. Tobacco contains thousands of chemicals, more than 70 of which are known as carcinogens, which are responsible for causing cancers in humans. It also carries particulate matter, that is the bits of burned tobacco and paper, that gets accumulated deep into the lungs, where they get buried in the tissue of the lung. According to a 2017 study published in the journal 'Tobacco Control,' the cancer risk of vaping is on a par as compared to the risk of using pharmaceutical products like nicotine patches, showing even less than one percent of the cancer risk of smoking.
On the flip side, the things that are proven to be most harmful in burning tobacco are absent from vaping practices. As there is no combustion process in vaping, there is no tar or carbon monoxide released, the two other significant dangers of smoking. Vaping does not produce carcinogens in quantities large enough to be considered to be of substantial risks, and it does not contain solid particles like smoke as well. Vaping uses the heating mechanism carried from a coil to turn the vape juice into an inhalable aerosol, which looks like smoke but is not really. Regarding all the concerns related to the ingredients in e-liquid or the vape juice, namely propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, and flavorings, all these ingredients are added to a range of products that we use on a daily basis. There is no proven human research on the effects of inhaling propylene glycol or vegetable glycerin daily for an extended duration.
Public Health Benefits of Vaping
The apparent advantage of vaping is a far lower health risk as compared to cigarette smoking. We have a massive population of people who consume nicotine or engage in the act of traditional smoking, even with its high costs. But what we all should understand is that vaping is probably an ideal alternative with all its benefits. After taking every pointer under consideration, vaping does provide most of the benefits with very little to negligible of the health cost.
There exist ample shreds of evidence to be confident of the low risks of smoke-free nicotine from smokeless tobacco, in one word– vaping. The exposures resulting from vaping, such as inhaling carrier chemicals and tiny quantities of contaminants, are well studied, WHich allows concluding that the risk from vaping is down in the range of the risk from using smokeless tobacco. The further reassurance about this conclusion from the real-world experiences is of hundreds of thousands of vapers who have used the vape products for years, and from numerous formal studies of acute effects, shows vape does not cause any unexpected consequences in the short run. This is the same evidence and reasoning that caused the U.S. FDA to settle that long-standing use of Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) products poses no substantial risk.
Even though there are various differences in health effects among low-risk alternatives to cigarette smoking, they are quite small and negligible. The total risk from all vape products is so close to zero that interchanging them for smoking diminishes risk about as efficiently as not using tobacco products at all. High-quality closed vape systems, which contain only well-studied ingredients and highly controlled heating systems; basically, the genuine vape devices are most risk-free to use. Even the quantities of potentially harmful chemicals produced remain small, much closer to negligible components found in regular room air as per the harmful components created by cigarette smoke. Therefore, it is important to consider that the health risks of vaping are in the range of that compared to everyday hazards, such as inhaling poor quality air or eating junk meals. If such a product is proven as a much cleaner and equally satisfying alternative that can replace traditional smoking for a person, then the right option is pretty clear.
Tobacco smoke contains carcinogens, whereas vape devices only contain propylene glycol, nicotine, and the same food flavorings that you one can find in any local grocery store. Many will argue that there are trace amounts of nitrosamines, the carcinogens that are also produced during the nicotine extraction method from tobacco. But, these are also found in similar quantities in FDA approved nicotine patches as well.
The majority of the customers who visit vape shops are the vapers who have quit smoking or in the transition phase. Vape shops play a crucial role in providing customers with correct product information, and many of them are better able to provide smoking cessation advice to the youth who are seeking help for quitting smoking. There is definitely a demand for clear and easily accessible information on the health effects and effectiveness of vape products for smoking cessation in these tough times. Vape shops are also necessary to ensure the supply of the goods so that people do not get more stressed and go back to harmful tobacco products to satisfy their cravings to combat these difficult times.
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