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Vape Shops: An Essential Service?

Vape Shops: An Essential Service?

You may have heard the terms “essential service(s)” and “essential employees” during the coverage of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Many states have applied various degrees of quarantines. Some states and localities are taking a more aggressive approach to dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic (i.e. California’s “shelter-in-place” order). But there are some questions that pertain to vapers: is your local vape shop considered an essential service? In this blog, we will talk about what is considered an essential service and why your local vape shop could be considered an essential service in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic.


What is an essential service?

While the definition of an essential service might vary from state to state and even between localities, the following industries are generally agreed to fall under the category of an essential service: the armed forces, police, firefighting, hospitals, transportation/logistics, grocery stores, gas stations, utilities, and the media. Other services may be considered essential in certain states and localities (i.e. financial services), although that is up to the discretion of local authorities. Recently, video game retailer GameStop had tried to brand itself as an essential service, which received backlash as many retailers closed up shop to slow or stop the spread of COVID-19.

The United Nations’ International Labor Office (ILO) has a definition of what is considered an essential service. “What is meant by essential services in the strict sense of the term depends to a large extent on the particular circumstances prevailing in a country. Moreover, this concept is not absolute, in the sense that a non-essential service may become essential if a strike lasts beyond a certain time or extends beyond a certain scope, thus endangering the life, personal safety or health of the whole or part of the population.”

Why are vape shops an essential service?

COVID-19 effectively took the public eye off of vaping and placed it onto the biggest pandemic in a century. Why are vape shops an essential service? If we go by the definition of the ILO, what can be considered a non-essential service may become essential to the personal safety or health of the whole or part of the population in certain situations should include vape shops and vape retailers. Vapers are utilizing vape products as a form of harm reduction; even in the time of COVID-19, the need for alternative nicotine products will continue just as food delivery will continue or grocery shopping will continue. 

Vaping as a harm reduction method and the vaping industry should be an essential service as adults have reported harm reduction through the use of flavors. The local vape shop should be considered an essential service because it may be the only place that vapers can access the vape products and hardware they need. If vapers return to traditional tobacco products, it may actually add to the issues we are seeing with COVID-19.

Recently, many businesses have been offering curbside pickup or delivery of products and/or services. This can extend to vape shops as well who may be experiencing a lack of business due to the COVID-19 shutdown. Where legally possible, vape shops can use this time to deliver products to local vapers or allow curbside pickup of vape products just like any other retail store.

Do you go to your local vape shop? Should they be an essential service? We’d like to talk about this more in the comments. Let us know what you think!

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Jose Alvarez, - April 13, 2020

Hello everyone, thank you for your responses. We are seeing some vape shops around the country challenge their designation as non-essential services in some jurisdictions. We will be doing a follow-up blog shortly. Thanks for reading!

Alec Bishop - April 13, 2020

Yes vaping is essential because ever since I started vaping I hardly ever get sick and when I do I swear it helps me get over it faster with menthol E eliquids helping to clear my sinuses.

Tina Mayhle - April 13, 2020

I do believe vape shops are essential. I have read so many times that smokers have a higher chance getting covid-19. And as much as I love my online vape shop ( there are some flavors they don’t carry.

Agie - April 13, 2020

Yes, yes, yes!!! I went out to go to my local vape shop and they were closed. I quit smoking 7 months ago and vaping is helping with the process. I had to go two counties over to a party store that had a couple juices…I have never been so relieved! So tell me…alcohol stores are essential? Vape shops are as well!

JACKIE DODSON - April 13, 2020

As a vaper, i would say that the shops are essential if the vaper does not have access the the internet. My shop has stopped carrying my flavors and they have been out of my coils more than they carry them. As a result I have turned to the internet. Your sight has been my choice for quite some time. However, I have been forced to seek other websites because you have not had my coils. I am not sure if you stopped carrying my coil or if you were merely out of stock. I know that I am just one vaper, but I try to be loyal and it hurts me to look elsewhere. Hope i dont have yo change again.

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