If you’ve been out making a cup of tea or grabbing a sandwich during the first quarter of 2020, there’s this little thing called COVID-19 knocking about. Don’t worry, it’ll go nowhere and be a non-story in a week or two. Unfortunately, it’s resulted in the closure of all the pubs and forced us all to endure our families in close confinement. Luckily, some celebrities are uploading videos of themselves stuck in their mansions complaining about how awful it is just to make us feel better.
New Nicotine Alliance Ireland said that Eire had seen, “some of the most stringent restrictions imposed on a population, outside of wartime” [link].
University College London’s Dr Lion Shahab urged the government to extend “essential status” to vape shops, to prevent people from returning to smoking [link].
“There is no evidence that vaping increases the risk or the severity of COVID-19 in vapers or bystanders, in spite of claims by anti-vaping activists,” said Professor Mendelsohn, as he announced the release of a factsheet on COVID-19 and vaping by ATHRA [link].
2020 was definitely not fun by now. Members of the Planet of the Vapes forum were reporting contracting the virus and this writer found himself one step away from intubation.
Independent vape companies were donating PPE and sanitiser to frontline staff and Philip Morris International responded to a request and donated 50 ventilators to the Greek healthcare system [link].
Some had slightly odd responses. Action on Smoking and Health’s Deborah Arnott appeared to prefer the option of people, saying: “This is a shameful publicity stunt by Philip Morris International.”
PMI’s Dr Gilchrist pointed out that the tobacco firm issued no press release, did no corporate social media, made no mention of it on its website and gave no interviews about it. The only reason anyone knew of the gesture was because of the Bureau of Investigative Journalism article that the Arnott quote came from.
Dr Caitlin Notley, a harm reduction expert University of East Anglia, issued advice to smokers attempting to quit during the COVID-19 lockdown [link], Alex Cunningham MP (Labour) called on then Public Health Minister Steve Brine to open up vape stores [link], and experts wrote to Mitch Zeller at the Food and Drug Administration about vaping and COVID-19 [link].
Belgian TV channel RTL-TVI called the denial of vape products to the public a “crisis” [link]. The New Nicotine Alliance attacked Voke’s owner Kind Consumer for “exploiting deaths attributable to black market THC liquids in the USA to promote its product” [link] – few will weep at the news that Kind Consumer has now “gone up in smoke” [link].
Research showed vaping worked better that stop smoking counselling [link] but there was something else happening, something incredibly frustrating for anyone with an ideological opposition to nicotine use.
News began to filter through that hospital admissions were highlighting a discrepancy. It was expected that smokers would feature highly in the numbers of patients experiencing severe COVID-19 symptoms, but they simply weren’t there. Nor were the vapers.
Research coming out of France [link] pointed to some kind of anti-COVID property of nicotine use [link]. People who make a healthy living out of opposing nicotine use were unsettled by the news [link] and went on the offensive [link] [link] [link][link].
University College London’s Dr Lion Shahab and Dr Aleksandra Herbec appealed to vapers to help with a study looking at lifestyle choices during the COVID pandemic [link] while Spanish consumer group EFVI and MOVE (Medical Organizations Supporting Vaping and Electronic cigarettes) conducted their own survey [link].
Vape company VPZ celebrated a record number of NHS workers managing to switch during the pandemic thanks to the special promotion it was running [link]. Amazingly, ASH’s Deborah Arnott has a problem with this as well as she drifted ever closer to the views espoused by her Bloomberg-funded friends.
Never was it clearer that a section of the tobacco control community didn’t care about saving lives unless it was only done their way. They objected to independent vape companies producing free sanitiser, they hated reduced priced vape products to key workers – and they went apoplectic when they discovered tobacco companies were working on COVID-19 vaccines [link].
Cardiff University’s Professor Judith Hall sought funding for a study looking at nicotine and its potential use with the COVID-19 virus pandemic [link]. As pubs opened up beer gardens and put chairs on streets, prohibitionists wanted to vaping banned because it looks too much like smoking [link].
Far from being a funfest, this year was rapidly becoming as tedious as a one-joke Michael Macintyre gig. Researchers lied about teen vaping rates in Canada [link], called for a ban on vaping in private homes [link], and whined about vaping being downright “unpleasant” [link].
Even worse, we were almost halfway through the year and still no extra-terrestrial craft had beamed Stanton Glantz on board and whisked him off to another dimension, leaving him free to invent more complete nonsense [link].
Lovely weather accompanied positive action by advocates and advocacy groups. World Vape Day was celebrated [link], European Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates launched its manifesto [link], and the New Nicotine Alliance began a series of highly successful webcasts [link].
The Global Forum for Nicotine was forced online for the first time, which meant everybody could listen to genuine experts online and could access facts about vaping and COVID-19 [link]. Australia’s Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt clearly didn’t watch any of the presentations as he didn’t seem to know if he was coming [link] or going [link] with his nicotine ban proposal.
With everyone in the UK promising not to do anything that would help spread the virus it was clear we were now over the worst of it and the second half of the year would be the fantastic 2020 we’d always planned on. Let’s forget about the last six months, July is going to be smashing.