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Vaping Industry Criticized for Using Coronavirus Crisis to Promote Business

Public health experts and media outlets have been criticizing both the tobacco and the vaping industries for making donations, offering freebies and giving discounts during the Covid-19 pandemic as a way of promoting their business.

An article in the Los Angeles Times recently highlighted something that we in the vaping community have known for weeks, even months. Several vape brands and online shops, particularly those based in China, have started either selling or offering medical masks and gloves, as well as thermometers as a bonus for making a purchase. Some vape shops have been coming up with deals and promotional codes inspired by the current coronavirus pandemic, and all this is apparently a bad thing because vaping, like smoking tobacco, destroys your lungs

Let’s face it, businesses in most sectors have been using the Covid-19 lockdown as a way to either boost sales or just stay afloat in a market that is becoming increasingly difficult to survive in with each passing day. The LA Times’ article claims that the “tobacco, vaping industries seize opportunities with freebies, donations”, like vaping is even remotely comparable to smoking in regards to sales and revenue, not to mention potential health hazards. It conveniently fails to point out how last year’s EVALI epidemic, the flavor bans and the constant negative media coverage have all heavily impacted the industry, while allowing the tobacco companies to sell their products carefree. No, vaping brands aren’t giving away and selling medical supplies to boost profits, they are doing it to stay afloat.

But let’s forget for a moment the sorry state of the vaping industry these days, decimated by scandal after scandal and facing the upcoming FDA deadline to keep their products on the market, and suppose that manufacturers and shops are thriving. Is this the only industry using the coronavirus pandemic to advertise services and boost business? Of course not, but vaping is apparently just as bad for your lungs as smoking, so the idea of companies in the vaping industry donating medical supplies and making Covid-19 related donations is seen as hypocritical.

The LA Times article pretty much puts the tobacco and the vaping industry in the the same bowl, so to speak, claiming that while the effects of vaping in a case of Covid-19 are less conclusive than that of smoking tobacco, vaping “has been linked to a growth in tobacco use, particularly among teens” and “tied to a surge in lung infections last summer”. The latter quotation obviously refers to the EVALI epidemic which has already been associated with vaping THC, not vaping in general, even by the CDC. It’s not entirely surprising that people still associate vaping with EVALI, though…

The fact of the matter is that vape companies giving Covid-19-themed discounts, medical supplies freebies and promotions is not the same as tobacco companies donating respirators and large sums of money to hospitals combating the disease. We already know that tobacco smoke can destroy people’s lungs and airways, cause cancer and COPD, but the same cannot be said about vaping. People seem to forget that vaping was created as a less dangerous alternative to smoking, a way to help people quit smoking. Today they are mentioned as pretty much the same in terms of perceived health harm, which I personally find astonishing.

No one is saying that vaping is risk free, and I will be the first to admit that the only thing you that should go into your lungs is clean mountain air. But this isn’t a perfect world, and there are millions of people out there addicted to smoking who won’t give up even in the face of a potentially deadly disease like Covid-19, so when a demonstrably less dangerous alternative comes along, why bash it into oblivion, as if it were the most evil thing ever created?

There is a reason why any competent health expert or media outlet will use phrases like “it is believed”, “vaping could be hazardous”, etc.. There is no solid scientific of medical evidence that vaping is as bad as smoking to human health. Multiple scientific reviews have deemed it 95% safer than smoking tobacco, and yet so many will not make the distinction between the two.

I personally find offering medical supplies as a commercial bonus distasteful, especially in a time when they could be better used in hospitals and volunteer centers, but that goes for every sector, not just the vaping industry. Stop trying to find excuses to put vaping in a negative light, it just makes it painfully obvious that you don’t have credible arguments.

Photo: Allie Smith/Unsplash

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