The Coronavirus pandemic has affected the entire world. No industry has been left unchanged by the sweeping lockdowns, closed borders, or the public resource crunch caused by COVID-19. And the vaping industry has been no exception.
Coupled with broad changes to how governments are regulating e cigarettes and vaping in the United States, Europe, and other countries, it’s becoming harder to imagine what the vaping world will look like once the world returns to normal.
But one thing is for sure, as vapers struggle to deal with changing economic and social realities, they must also contend with a dearth of available vape products brought on by government regulations like the Pre-market Tobacco Application (PMTA).
Digging Into The Numbers
At Vaping Cheap, we conducted an informal survey of our readers to see how the pandemic has impacted their buying habits around vaping and e cigarettes. Of those surveyed, approximately 11 percent said they had begun smoking again since the pandemic started.
Fortunately, the majority of respondents (about 77 percent), said they had not returned to cigarettes. However, many said their spending habits had increased amidst the pandemic.
“I live in Massachusetts, so thanks to the pandemic and the damn government it's forced me to spend more just to ensure that I can keep vaping and not smoke,” wrote one respondent.
“[The pandemic] has not affected me at all except in getting products,” explained another VC visitor. “So when I find what I want, I buy more than normal because of the time on shipping. With COVID-19 and the PMTA, I purchased a lot before it went into effect.”
Other respondents said that the amount of time they spend vaping has actually increased during the pandemic.
“I am like vaping 24/7,” wrote one person, while another said they were “vaping a little more than usual.”
“I'm working from home, so I vape all day instead of when I can get away from my desk,” said yet another respondent.
While the number of people we surveyed is admittedly very small - a scant 26 people, it does suggest an increasing crunch on vapers’ wallets even as many people struggle with job losses or cutbacks.
Meanwhile, many countries are enacting stricter e-cigarette regulations. In the United States, flavored vape cartridges were restricted from production in February 2020. Meanwhile, the FDA passed a “deeming rule,” called the Pre-Market Tobacco Application (PMTA) in May 2016 that stated all vape manufacturers had to go through the same application process that cigarette and smokeless tobacco manufacturers must adhere to.
This would allow the FDA to review any products before they can be released to the general public. Essentially, the FDA can now approve or deny any product based on a number of criteria including ingredients, marketing, manufacturing procedures, risk and benefit to the general public, if the proposed product prevents use of a current tobacco product, and whether the proposed product might persuade non-tobacco users to try it.
The problem is, it’s an expensive process to get all of the necessary products through the approval process. And the PMTA applies to all vape-related products, whether its e-juice, cartridges, atomizers, or anything in-between. As a result, many smaller vape companies are being forced out of the industry.
Similar restrictions are being implemented in Europe and Canada. It appears to be causing many vapers to stock up on their products, as some people mentioned above.
The Vaping and COVID-19 Connection
Of course, many red flags have been raised by recent studies claiming a connection between smoking or vaping and the Coronavirus. One study showed that young vapers are five times likely to contract the novel coronavirus.
But, it’s also true that historic and environmental factors play a role in how severe each individual case of COVID-19 is. The connection has long been established that smoking can seriously harm the immune system, making it more difficult to fend off viruses. Moreover, air pollution has been linked to a higher risk of dying from COVID-19 as well.
But for those using vaping as a method to quit smoking, answers have been less forthcoming. Is it best to quit everything cold turkey? Is vaping better than smoking in these cases? Are e cigarettes safer than traditional cigarettes? At least three of our respondents said they returned to smoking amidst the pandemic.
One small glimmer of hope is that more people seem to be quitting smoking as a result of coronavirus. For anyone who has taken up smoking again and wants to quit, we’ve compiled a list of vaping resources for people who want to quit smoking during the pandemic.
One thing that is for sure, there still needs to be more studies conducted on the connection between vaping and COVID-19. It's difficult to tell whether these studies show a correlation or causation, but anything that affects the lungs seems to be an area of concern. So proceed with caution.
Vaping and COVID 19: Stress Factors
Obviously, these are stressful times for everyone. With mass unemployment, a deadly virus, and political turmoil, it’s no small wonder that more people haven’t returned to smoking. We’ll be seeing the results of this pandemic for years, possibly generations, to come. How we handle it in the next few months is important.
At any rate, if coronavirus has you starting to think you want to give up vaping, there are resources available.
And while more people may be putting down cigarettes than ever before, which is undoubtedly a great thing, there are signs that the trend could wane in the opposite direction. As the New York Times pointed out, with increased stressors brought on by the pandemic, it may be enough to push some people to smoke or vape more than before.
So, what will the world look like in the next few months? It’s impossible to say. One thing is for certain: by the time things return to normal, vaping, vape products, and how much access we have to them, will be vastly different.
We’re still interested in how the coronavirus pandemic has impacted your vaping. Feel free to fill out the survey here if you have a minute or two. In the meantime, if you’re looking for vaping deals, we continue to compile as many as we can find daily. You can locate them here.
We'd love to hear what you think of this piece, and any other parts of the website. Please be sure to let us know in the comments below.