Sending Office: Honorable Lucille Roybal-Allard
Over the past several weeks we have seen reports of Vape shops defying state laws to close their businesses during this COVID-19 quarantine, and lobbying the Administration to be considered essential businesses under the Department of Homeland Security official
guidance. Please join me in sending a letter to the DHS Acting Secretary requesting that vape shops not be included on the “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce” advisory list, and that as we build plans to re-open our communities, vape shops not be
prioritized for opening ahead of other non-essential business establishments.
Public Health scientists have warned that smoking and vaping place individuals at significantly higher risk for developing more severe complications from the COVID virus. Moreover, studies have shown the ingredients in vaping liquids, especially in the flavored
electronic cigarettes that are so popular with teens and young adults, can affect cell function in the airways and suppress the lungs’ ability to fight infections like COVID-19. This is particularly concerning given the drastic increases in youth vaping in
As our nation continues to battle illness and death associated with COVID-19, it is critical that we do everything possible to protect the health of our communities. Please join me in requesting that Vape shops not be designated as essential establishments,
or given any special consideration for opening before other businesses.
Dear Acting Secretary Wolf:
We are writing to express our concern about recent reports that vape shops are considering requesting to be classified as essential businesses and included on your agency’s “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce” advisory list.
Public health officials have noted that behaviors that weaken the lungs, such as smoking and vaping, place individuals at a higher risk for developing more severe COVID-19 complications. Therefore, given the negative impact vaping can have on lung health
and potential COVID-19 complications, including findings that flavored tobacco products can exacerbate lung infections, we strongly urge you to reject any proposal to classify vape shops as an essential business and to refrain from offering any guidance to
prioritize the reopening of vape shops prior to the reopening of other non-essential businesses.
The urgency of our request also takes into account the worsening epidemic of youth e-cigarette use in America, and the fact young people are particularly drawn to flavored tobacco products. Studies have shown the ingredients in vaping liquids, especially
in flavored electronic cigarettes, can affect cell function in the airways and suppress the lungs’ ability to fight infections like COVID-19.
Vape shops remain a popular source for kids to access e-cigarettes. For example, a study in
JAMA Pediatrics found that in California, 44.7% of tobacco and vape shops sold e-cigarettes to underage buyers. Delaying the opening of these businesses will help protect our youth from COVID-19 complications.
Vape shops continue to argue they should be classified as an essential business because they sell products that may help cigarette smokers quit. Yet, there is limited evidence to indicate that e-cigarettes help adults quit. Moreover, a recent study found
that teens who vape are more likely to start smoking tobacco products than are teens who don’t use electronic cigarettes. U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams stated in a comprehensive report on tobacco cessation issued earlier this year, “there is presently
inadequate evidence to conclude that e-cigarettes, in general, increase smoking cessation.” CDC and other leading public health authorities have reached the same conclusion. Furthermore, the Food and Drug Administration has not approved any e-cigarette as
a tobacco cessation device.
It is critical that businesses that do not serve a truly essential function not be designated as essential establishments. Clearly, vape shops that sell products that could worsen COVID-19 complications, and attract kids to flavored addictive products that
contain specific risks for worsening lung infections, should not be classified as an essential business or allowed to reopen prior to other businesses.
At a time of rising death and illness from the coronavirus, our nation needs to do everything possible to protect Americans’ lungs. One of the best ways is to encourage all Americans not to vape or smoke. We urge you to continue to refrain from including
vape shops on your “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce” advisory list and to reject any efforts to prioritize their opening ahead of other non-essential business establishments.
e-Dear Colleague version 2.0