As the coronavirus pandemic ravages on, straining the economy and pushing the world to a corner, the tobacco and vaping industries are taking advantage of the unique opportunity to popularize their products and build their brands, despite criticism.
Moti Piin, which sells battery-powered vaping pens, for instance, is offering two free surgical masks when you order one pen. Then, there’s Smok, another e-cig brand which is giving consumers the chance to win disposable gloves and up to 10,000 masks if you buy a sleek cartridge.
The list is endless. In fact, some of the companies have gone as far as to purchase ad space on multiple websites to advertise their covid-19 relief packages.
One store, for example, has multiple ads circulating around the internet with the message “Covid19 Relief Effort.” The company is offering two-for-one e-liquid vials. Another e-cig merchant, meanwhile, is offering promo codes that buyers can use to get a 19% discount off nicotine e-juices.
A Lot of People Aren’t Buying the “Kind” Gesture, Though
The tobacco industry insists that they’re just helping out like everyone else. Some have even donated ventilators and initiated charity campaigns to raise funds for medical and economic relief.
But, a lot of people aren’t buying it, with anti-smoking advocates especially livid at what many are now calling the highest level of ‘hypocrisy.’
“It’s as if they don’t realize that they’re in the business of destroying the lungs,” one partially angry critic lashed out. “It makes the word ‘hypocrisy’ feel feeble.”
And, it’s not just in the US. In Greece, one tobacco company came under intense criticism after donating 50 ventilators to an Intensive care Unit (ICU).
Papastratos, owned by PMI, donated the high-tech ventilators to Sotiria Hospital in early March, a move that was welcomed by the country’s Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias. But, anti-tobacco crusaders were having none of it.
“This is a shameful publicity stunt,” Deborah Arnott, CEO of Action on Smoking, lashed out. “If smoking does predispose people to adverse outcomes during covid-19, is it not hypocritical to be giving out ventilators but still selling tobacco products?” another concerned commenter wondered.
It’s easy to see why some people would be concerned. Researchers have long known that tobacco weakens the user’s ability to fight off respiratory infections. It also increases the risk of developing certain types of chronic lung conditions that underlie many severe covid-19 cases.
Indeed, the World Health Organization has since added the coronavirus to the long list of why you shouldn’t smoke. It, therefore, doesn’t feel right to promote tobacco and e-cig products at this time.
At the same time, though, the world needs every bit of help it can find to fight this pandemic. It would be counterproductive to begin nitpicking, wouldn’t it?
Blair Thomas has been a music producer, bouncer, screenwriter and for over a decade has been the proud Co-Founder of eMerchantBroker, the highest-rated high-risk and e-cig merchant account processor in the country. He has climbed in the Himalayas, survived a hurricane, and lived on a gold mine in the Yukon. He currently calls Thailand his home with a lifetime collection of his favorite books.