The government states:
“E-cigarettes (vapes) can be an effective aid to stopping smoking and staying smokefree. The evidence on the health risks of e-cigarettes is still developing. However, it is clear that vaping is far less harmful to the respiratory system than smoking. There is very little evidence on vaping and COVID-19 and it is unknown whether vaping makes you more susceptible to severe disease if you become infected. If it does, the risk is likely to be much less than if you smoke.
“Vaping remains much less harmful than smoking for most people and it is very important that you avoid returning to smoking.
“Vaping involves repetitive hand-to-face movements, which provide greater risk of a route of entry into the body for viruses. To reduce the risk of contact with COVID-19, you should:
- wash your hands more frequently than usual, for 20 seconds, with soap and water (or use hand sanitiser if soap is not available)
- clean your e-cigarette regularly
“Public Health England (PHE) strongly advises against sharing any vaping devices.
“PHE’s 2018 independent e-cigarette evidence review found that, to date, there have been no identified health risks of passive vaping to bystanders. There is currently no evidence that COVID-19 can be caught from passive exposure to e-cigarette vapour, but in the absence of evidence, we recommend that vapers avoid exhaling clouds of vapour in the presence of others.”
In other advice, the government says, “shisha smoking carries all the health risks of smoking” and “if you smoke, you generally have an increased risk of contracting respiratory infections, such as COVID-19, and you are more likely to have underlying smoking-related conditions, which could lead to more severe disease outcomes.”
With the advice remaining unchanged from before the lockdown with regards the relative safety compared to smoking, and the total lack of evidence that vaping increases the chances of contracting or dying from COVID-19, many will wonder why access to vape products was restricted under the lockdown.
Fortunately for smokers looking to quit and vapers who have made the switch, vape stores are now being allowed to open up again on June 15.
Boris Johnson has announced that “non-essential” retail units will be allowed to re-open from that date – although market stalls selling vape gear began trading earlier on Monday.
John Dunne, director at The UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA) said: “All our retail members have still been ‘open for business’ since the lockdown began and have introduced social distancing measures that go well beyond the government guidance. This should give vapers confidence when going to their local stores. Our members, together with the industry as a whole, will be delighted that shops will be able to reopen from the 15 June as it will enable them to give the critical support to their customers, and be a boost to the whole supply chain.”