Two days after New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio opined that a 22-year-old’s severe case of COVID-19 was linked to vaping, groups indirectly funded by vape companies fought back, launching their own campaign to contradict warnings from public health experts that vaping can worsen COVID-19 diagnoses, Bloomberg reported.
The Global State of Tobacco Harm Reduction called experts’ notion that vaping could put someone at greater risk of more severe cases of COVID-19 “unfounded rumors,” and said naysayers had “limited available evidence” for making those claims. Consumer Advocates for Smoke-Free Alternatives Association published on its website an article that argued the “pandemic provides fertile ground for spreading misinformation on vaping.”
Similar messages have been traced back to the Foundation for a Smoke Free World, or FSFW, a nonprofit organization funded by Marlboro maker Philip Morris International. Its sister company, Altria Group Inc., has a stake in JUUL.
The debate comes as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is amping up its crackdown on vape companies that target youth through advertising, flavored vapes, and products like backpacks that allow easy concealment of vape devices. Vape companies that want to continue to market their products in the U.S. also have to prove they serve a public health benefit by helping cigarette smokers kick the habit. That deadline has been pushed back to May due to the coronavirus.
There is still much to learn about the coronavirus, and while public health and medical health officials cannot make a definitive connection between vaping and severe COVID-19 cases, it is understood that people with lung diseases who contract COVID-19 tend to fare worse with this respiratory virus because it attacks the lungs. The FDA has previously said that cigarette smoking can cause “worse outcomes” in COVID-19 patients.
Beasley Allen lawyers Joseph VanZandt and Sydney Everett, together with Mass Torts Section Head Andy Birchfield, are currently representing several individuals who are suing the top U.S. vape maker JUUL for the negative impact its products have had on their lives. They also have filed lawsuits on behalf of school districts nationwide, which seek to protect students and recover resources spent fighting the vaping epidemic.