Claims Of The Government Picking “Winners” And “Losers” With Stay-Home Orders
The coronavirus pandemic has forced much of the economy to temporarily halt as the world scrambles for containment. While businesses deemed non-essential are being forced to temporarily shutter, a band of small businesses continue to remain open.
A group of vape shops in San Antonio has outright refused to comply with the city’s “Stay Home, Work Safe” order thus far. Violations of the order are punishable by a fine of $1000 or a jail sentence of up to 180 days.
They claim that the government is being selective in what it deems to be essential, with businesses selling tobacco products allowed to remain open, but vape shops being forced to close in a majority of jurisdictions. Economically it’s not even at a point of businesses turning a profit, but just being able to make payroll.
Law enforcement and legislators have received a number of complaints pertaining to order violations, although they’re currently limiting enforcement for obvious offenders. The order has remained a point of contention, with many left uncertain about what exactly is considered essential and how to even go about enforcing it.
In San Antonio, a small group of vape shops is actively resisting the city’s “Stay Home, Work Safe” order. They claim that the order actively chooses economic “winners” and “losers,” and that their businesses should be given the opportunity to adapt. “It’s absolutely outrageous what is happening here,” said Brad Bennett, owner of Mega Vape. “If a restaurant can do curbside if a pet shop can do curbside, why can’t a vape shop do curbside?”
Across the City, Texas Vape owner Richard Tisdale puts up the same fight, adding a disinfectant to his inventory in an attempt to skirt regulations. “I’m not going to get out of here. My lawyer told me I don’t need to get out of here,” Tisdale said. “I’ve got too many deliveries, still coming. I’m not closing the business. I’ve already paid for all this product coming in. I have to be here.”
Since the order had been issued, the San Antonio Police Department stated it had received over a thousand complaints of violations. Violators face fines of $1000 and up to 180 days in jail; city officials are hoping that businesses comply with the order voluntarily.
“I’m not suggesting we need to start going and indiscriminately just start pounding this home,” said District 8 Councilman Manny Pelaez. “I’m looking for flagrant violation opportunities to remind folks, right?” City officials have since visited both outlets and issued written warnings for the violations, but enforcement action has yet to be taken.
The global smoking epidemic is responsible for millions of complications, diseases, and deaths each and every year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates there are currently 38 million smokers in the United States alone, 16 million of which currently suffer from some form of smoking-related illness or disease.
Vaping offers great promise and potential in combating this deadly worldwide epidemic, being a proven smoking cessation aid and reduced harm alternative to tobacco. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that vaping was more effective than traditional nicotine-replacement therapies in not only helping smokers quit, but remain tobacco-free.
Vaping is already responsible for saving thousands and potentially millions of lives throughout the world each year. Research from University College London found that vaping was responsible for helping up to 70,000 British smokers quit in a single year alone.
Not only has vaping been demonstrated as an effective smoking cessation device, but there is no evidence of long-term risk to users as well. Research published by the National Academy of Sciences found that not only is vaping less harmful than smoking, but there are no known long-term health effects associated with prolonged usage.
Businesses that attempt to adapt to our changing economic landscape aren’t attempting to profit off of a tragedy, but merely trying to remain afloat in an uncertain climate. These small business owners are simply trying to pay their taxes, rent, and retain the staff they have for as long as they can.
Restricting access to vapor products while allowing access to tobacco products, particularly during a high-stress time, may turn former smokers back toward tobacco products or even black market alternatives. It defies basic logic to create an additional public health crisis during a time of increased strain on our healthcare system.
Members of the vaping industry and community must lobby their legislators to allow exemptions for vape shops, noting how essential they are to their health and lives. A concerted campaign of civic engagement and civil discourse may help allow access to such a beneficial product during such difficult times.
What are your thoughts regarding the protests against Stay-Home orders? Do you believe this a benevolent form of civil disobedience or a hazard to public health? We would love to hear from you in the comments below, be sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to receive all the latest vaping news!
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