A Victory for Italy

Posted 23rd March 2020 by Dave Cross
Doctor Riccardo Polosa, a Professor of Internal Medicine and specialist of Respiratory Diseases and Clinical Immunology at the University of Catania, was angry when Italy closed all vape shops. He argued that the government’s action to limit the spread of COVID-19 placed lives at risk of tobacco-related harm. Sense has prevailed and the stores have reopened.

As a genuine expert in the area of chest infections, Dr Polosa has taken a keen interest in how Italy and the world has responded to the coronovirus (COVID-19) pandemic. He was quick to respond to the Mayor of New York City’s announcement that vaping could increase the risk of contracting the disease: “Where is the evidence? Stop placing smoking and vaping on the same level. Get your facts straight Mayor!”

Shortly afterwards, Italy ordered all vape shops to close. “Open vape shops now! I think it is wrong to deprive smokers of the possibility of switching to less harmful and even more unfair products to let thousands of vapers move to smoke. We must guarantee access to alternative tools to quit smoking,” Polosa reacted.

Italy has suffered the most as COVID-19 swept around the globe. The government’s response in shutting down access to harm reduction products to the country’s million vapers and 16 million smokers left Polosa feeling “a little bit cross.”

“Hundreds of thousands of vapers would have been at risk of gatewaying back to smoking,” Polosa told Filtermag’s Helen Redmond. “It was an issue of public health in my opinion.”

Thanks to the pressure Dr Polosa brought to bear, the Italian government performed a voltafaccia and reversed the decision.

“I was very glad to see that the government was extremely receptive. In a matter of days they responded and said vape shops can remain open.”

Polosa believes that this sets a worldwide precedent, especially as Italy has been exceptionally inconsistent in its approach to alternative nicotine products.


  • Riccardo Polosa on Twitter – [link]
  • A Scientist Persuaded Italy to Exempt Vape Shops From COVID-19 Lockdown – [link]

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 Dave Cross
Article by Dave Cross
Freelance writer, physicist, karateka, dog walker