There is no clear definition of what an essential service is. Recently, companies such as GameStop have tried to consider themselves as an essential service, which received a lot of backlash as many retailers have closed their doors to slow or stop the spread of COVID-19. However, there are a few services that have generally been considered as essential services: healthcare, the armed forces, police, firefighting, transportation/logistics, utility services, grocery stores, gas stations, and the media. There have also been other services that have been considered essential such as financial services, but the definition of what an essential service is has largely been at the discretion of local and state authorities.
The United Nations’ International Labor Office (ILO) has laid out their own definition of what is anessential service, despite the fact that even their definition remains unclear and open to interpretation. “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.”
Before COVID-19, the focus of the media was on vape products and vaping in general. COVID-19 is now the biggest global pandemic since the influenza pandemic of 1918. Therefore, it is important to understand why your local vape shop and vape retailers may be considered essential services. The ILO states that certain services may be considered essential services in order to protect the personal safety or health of the whole or part of the population in certain situations. Vape shops are often the point of access for alternative nicotine products and harm reduction for vapers. The need for alternative nicotine products will not stop even during the COVID-19 pandemic, just like the need for grocery shopping will need to continue.
Vape shops are an essential service as vaping is considered a harm reduction method because if vapers return to traditional tobacco products, it could add to the issues we are seeing with COVID-19. Therefore, the local vape shop, as a gateway to access harm reduction methods and provide alternative nicotine products, could actually be a vital resource in helping reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Many businesses have started offering curbside pickup or delivery of their products and/or services. If this is legally possible in your area, vape shops can take advantage in these times to help continue their business during the COVID-19 shutdown. Vape shops should look into curbside pickup and delivery (if once again, legally possible) of their products just like any other retail store.
What are your thoughts on vape shops being an essential business? Do you agree that they should be considered an essential service? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below. Let us know what you think!
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