Iowa could be witnessing further setbacks for their response regarding harm-reduction in this COVID-19 pandemic.
Humans have loved getting high on substances since as long as human history itself; whether it is tobacco or nicotine or any other drugs. And because we know those are detrimental to our health, respective authorities try to curb consumption of those addictive items among the people while implementing several rules and regulations. In typical consideration, people will prefer to follow minimized usage of those drugs rather than giving up their habit in one go – just because the latter choice is very hard to execute. So, when it comes to harm reduction, it makes more sense to allow safer alternative services for people to try rather than directly prohibiting each and every addiction. Still, regrettably, Iowa could be moving in the wrong direction in response to Coronavirus.
With several concerns surfacing over the health issues in this COVID-19 outbreak, every country and state is taking measures accordingly. But people are anxious about what is happening in Iowa. While elsewhere in most of the states, the authorities are working on how to maintain drug supply chains to ensure people don’t turn back to any worse option, the ideas from Iowa are poles apart.
On 6th April, Gov. Kim Reynolds officially revealed the inclusion of vape service while announcing additional closure of some facilities to support the state’s endeavor to fight against COVID-19. In Iowa, the gas stations and the grocery market still remain open while vape and tobacco stores are to remain closed effectively until at least 30th April according to the official instructions. It is comprehensible why they are doing so, but there are only worse situations to follow on.
What does this situation indicate?
It specifies that the people will still find a plentiful supply of typical cigarettes from those gas stations and stationery stores, while local resources of vaporizers and e-cigarettes will gradually get blank. It addresses not only the downfall of the vape market but, more importantly, people’s inconvenience, which can hamper their daily life wellbeing.
We all know why vape was invented and how it came into effect. Most people adapt to vaping in an effort to quit smoking. It means that vaping works primarily as an ailment to those. Currently, Smoking causes over 7 million deaths worldwide per year, while this could increase to 8 million by 2030, according to the CDC. So, while any authority is making any decision regarding harm-reduction from the addictives, the last thing they want to see as a consequence is that the people are going back to smoking.
The situation was the same elsewhere, including Spain and Italy (probably the two countries which dealt with the most damage after the USA in this COVID-19 mayhem) like now in Iowa until they revised their decision and made vape shops – an essential service. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has specified that the smokers are more vulnerable to get affected by Coronavirus, and with more than 215k (as of 28th April 2020) casualties of COVID-19, Iowa just can’t follow the same mistake.
The Government of Saskatchewan made the same mistake as Iowa, and now they are facing thousands of public strikes to pull off their decision. After monitoring the circumstances in Spain and Italy, Columbia S.C. finally decided to include vape shops as an essential facility because they don’t want people to turn back to smoking typical cigarettes.
Dr. Riccardo Polosa is a world-famous researcher on nicotine and tobacco-related health concerns and also the founder of CoEHAR (Centre of Excellence for the Acceleration of Harm Reduction) in Catania, Italy. Last month he expressed his thoughts on how vapers and the smokers are being affected by the current lockdown in Italy to Filtermagazine. He said,
This is not all that is going wrong in Iowa. They also didn’t have any legal syringe service scheme a few years ago until legislatures approved a modification in Senate file 127 in 2019, with nearly 40 states in the USA supporting it. Tiffany Carter, Policy and Community Engagement Coordinator in the Iowa Harm Reduction Coalition said to CBS2 news,
He also added that most of the diseases get transmitted by the misuse or overuse of syringes.
With not enough initiative from the Governor to conduct a legal syringe exchange program, people primarily who inject drugs were being satisfied by the curbside syringe services to date. And for this type of horrible carelessness, there are many reports of how people are acquiring Hepatitis C as the tally jumped to 347 from 73 in just seven years between 2009 and 2016. But recently CDC approved the initiative to operate a legal syringe service in Iowa, and they also agreed to allow them to use federal funding for that.
Meanwhile, last month, two of Iowa’s five licensed CBD dispensaries, respectively in Council Bluffs and Davenport, permanently shut down for some alleged internal and financial issues unconcerned with this Coronavirus pandemic. This means there remain only three legal CBD outlets in Waterloo, Sioux City, and in the Des Moines portion of Windsor Heights to stand by Iowa’s awful medical marijuana service.
Currently, vape shops are getting selected as a non-essential service in many nations and provinces. That’s why people have gone for a petition to materialize their requirements. People want vape shops to remain open or somehow manage to supply vape items during this lockdown. Consumer Advocates of Smoke-free Alternative Association (CASAA) is also tempting the audience to raise their voice against the authority for their inconvenience.
“Tell your governor that vape shops are essential services. Take Action”
Gov. Kim Reynolds has been taking decisions primarily considering the best resolution to combat COVID-19, which means active social distancing. But She has also made some mistakes. In March, she declared that certain restaurants and bars could continue to sell alcoholic beverages without any carryout order.
Is this decision a good one?
History says alcoholic drinks have close contact with some dreadful diseases, and in this current situation, she just can’t take the risk of it. Maybe she is trying to find a path to compensate for the economic downfall, but what about the public welfare? Should the original vision be social distancing, liquor shops must remain closed, or if very much needed, she should ask them to run curbside business.
Gov. Reynolds could offer the vape shops the same scheme she offered the grocery stores or the restaurants. Afterall Government holds the supremacy to implement rules according to the situation. With more than 9 million regular vapers residing in the USA, Iowa being a part of it, can’t take the risk of prompting them to turn back to more harmful options. She could also try some temporary steps to monitor how people are taking it and what are the positives and negatives from it.
Vape stores are on the verge of reopening temporarily while working with a maximum of 50% of legal occupancy capacity between May 1st to 15th in all counties except some, including Iowa. The respective authorities have decided to explore the consequences if vape shops remain open during the lockdown, and Iowa should follow their idea.
The US Food and Drug Administration or FDA regulates the commodity market considering public safety. Recently they changed their opinion on the consequence of vaping related to COVID-19. Earlier, they assumed that vapers could get affected by the Coronavirus more than the normal people. But, in late March, they re-affirmed via an email conversation with Bloomberg officials that there has been no clear evidence that vape can promote the chances of getting infected by the novel Coronavirus. Although the FDA brushed off the confusion surrounding the effect of vaping, they confirmed that smokers still possess a higher risk of getting infected.
Only a vaper can say how difficult it is to refrain from their practice in one go. People are already very much stressed about the ongoing disaster, and they might opt for some additives to run a smooth lifestyle. Considering the current situation worldwide, every Government should make a sensible decision for the betterment of society. An evidence update from gov.uk depicts that vaping carries at least 95% fewer health hazards than smoking. So, as we know that medicines differ from man to man for some reason, we can never predict how imperative syringes and vapes are to those respective persons. Though no addictive is 100% safe, vapes or e-cigarettes might work as a safer alternative. Probably in a comprehensible society, even e-cigarettes could effectively work as an integral element for the public welfare.