Vaping and Corona touch each other just like all other areas of daily life. “Corona” certainly has a good chance of being named Word of the Year 2020 by the German Language Society in Wiesbaden. Whether through necessary political measures, economically or, in the worst case, in terms of health – everyone is affected by the COVID pandemic in one way or another. Unfortunately, the vaping community is no exception. But what specifically has the pandemic meant for consumers, manufacturers and retailers in 2020 to date? The following report examines the situation of the individual actors.
Corona from the point of view of vape manufacturers
After the SARS-CoV-2 virus first emerged in China, the country where most e-cigarettes are produced, the industry was directly affected by the pandemic earlier than other areas. Millions of people have been quarantined at home. “The lack of labor – also in the entire supply chain – put us under a lot of pressure in February.” reports Maggie Huang, who works as a marketing manager for CAK Vape. Although production could be intensified again in March, the virus had spread all over the world by then, there were local shutdowns, vape shops were closed, and demand collapsed. In the meantime, production at large manufacturers such as Aspire or CAK Vape is stable again. In the future, they want to invest more in supply chains in order to reduce possible risks. But many small brands that have no or significantly lower reserves “will disappear forever,” Huang fears.
Wholesale in the Corona Pandemic
The effects of the pandemic were also noticeable for the wholesale trade, almost at a later time than the manufacturers: First there were supply bottlenecks, then the shutdown followed, combined with the closing of shops and vapor stores – depending on the regulations of the respective federal states. The e-cigarette industry has faced enormous difficulties. As Dennis Dahlmann, CEO of InnoCigs, reports in an interview, good communication with manufacturers and employees on site in China was the most important thing in order to make the right decisions during the crisis. Working from home and taking advantage of the short-time allowance scheme for six weeks were tools that helped InnoCigs navigate through the crisis. Under no circumstances, according to Managing Director Henning Sievers, should the seriousness of the situation be hidden behind marketing messages. At least online trading was able to continue. A change in the dropshipping system also gave e-cigarette dealers with shops the opportunity to supply their customers with contactless shipping. Despite all the challenges, people at InnoCigs remain positive. “We have noticed that the steamers have not lost their confidence by a long shot – and I think we all share this confidence.” like Dahlman.
Related Read:Tips For The Best Vaping Taste
Vaping and Corona – retail in Corona mode
The committed commitment of retailers is required on several fronts during the course of the corona crisis, but especially during the shutdowns: finding their way around the new situation, creating and implementing hygiene concepts, answering questions from vapers and, above all, procuring sufficient goods for replenishment. Anyone who did not have online sales before the pandemic was well advised to set one up as soon as possible. Some stores offered live chats during the first lockdown in spring to keep in touch with their customers. In March, the websites of well-known vape shops featured phrases like “We scrape together all sorts of leftovers in Europe for you.” or “Where the journey will go, we cannot estimate at this point in time.” but also “hamster purchases are not necessary!” to read. With the normalization of production in China and the reopening of smaller shops at the end of April 2020, the retail situation has also eased again. Of course, lost sales cannot be fully compensated for. And, that’s also part of the truth, not all shops managed to survive the crisis.
How vapers experienced the corona pandemic
As in other areas of daily life, at the beginning of the crisis, vapers naturally became concerned about securing supplies of vape supplies, especially heads or liquids. Those who wrapped and mixed themselves and had a well-stocked handicraft corner at home now saw themselves at an advantage. Most vapers knew that most of the hardware came from China. When the shutdown began, it also became apparent that e-cigarettes – unlike the far more harmful tobacco cigarettes – were not classified as everyday goods. The efforts of dealer associations and consumers could not change that. On relevant boards such as the e-dampfen-forum, when it came to the topic of vaping and corona, there was a fear that older vapers, who may not have much internet affinity, could return to tobacco cigarettes due to a lack of availability. Valid studies on whether and how many vapers switched to tobacco cigarettes due to a lack of supplies were not available at the time of our reporting. From a personal point of view, however, it can be said that the weeks of the shutdown could be bridged quite well with online offers.
The effects of Corona on the vaper fairs
The report can be heard again and again in the media, but it should not come as a surprise even without it: in addition to the hotel and restaurant industry, the event industry is hardest hit by the immediate effects of the crisis. Most of the steamer fairs in 2020 have also been canceled or postponed. Ira Simeonidis, CEO and co-founder of the Hall of Vape, one of the world’s largest vape fairs, is optimistic. Especially this year, for the fifth anniversary of the HoV, a lot was planned. COVID-19 took that fun away from the three Simeonidis brothers. A slimmed-down version of the fair, which was planned for November, will not take place either. Stephan Grünewald from the market and media institute Rheingold said in the stock exchange newspaper that the turning point would not harm the trade fair operations, as it would fuel cravings for any major event. Simeonidis shares this optimism. The enthusiasm for the Hall of Vape was not quenched either among visitors or exhibitors, there were constant inquiries and the exhibition hall was fully booked for November down to the last stand.
Corona and the political work of the e-cigarette associations
In times of great uncertainty, information becomes the most important commodity. It is only logical that the major dealer associations BfTG and VdeH see it as their most important task during the crisis to always provide their members with the latest information about hygiene concepts, aid loans, compensation for quarantine, etc. A great fear of Michal Dobrajc (VdeH) during the shutdown: In the worst case, consumers could return to the significantly riskier tobacco cigarette if the supply situation is difficult. BfTG spokesman Philip Drögemüller worked tirelessly from morning to night during the shutdown to cushion the impact on retailers and consumers as much as possible. The BfTG published a statement on maintaining the coverage of needs, published a hygiene concept for shops and provided signs for printing, and a fact sheet with the most important status updates by federal state was updated daily at bftg.org. According to an industry survey by the BfTG, two thirds of all e-cigarette retailers and manufacturers assess the future of the vaping industry as optimistic.
Vaping and Corona in scientific discourse
At no time did scientists feel as strong a media presence as during the Corona crisis. Names like Christian Drosten or Hendrik Streeck can be heard as often as those of top politicians. Of course, the main focus of the research is not whether there is a connection between vaping and corona, but there have been some notable reports in this context as well. In April, a team led by French neurobiologist Jean-Pierre Changeux presented a study that suggested nicotine could prevent the coronavirus from sticking. The opposite, vaping increases the risk of a COVID infection, claimed a study by the American Stanford School of Medicine that has since been refuted several times. As with most questions on the topic of Corona, much research in this field is not yet complete. An important, positive interim result draws Dr. Konstantinos Farsalinos from the Greek University of West Attica: The proportion of smokers among those affected is lower than would be assumed given the proportion in the total population. Farsalinos refers to smokers because surveys did not separately identify users of e-cigarettes as such.
What else is relevant for vapers in the context of COVID-19?
It goes without saying that the A-H-A rules (distance hygiene breathing mask) apply to us vapers as well as to everyone else. The hygiene rules also apply to e-cigarettes as well as to all everyday objects clear. However, it doesn’t hurt to take a hard look at things: Letting your buddy try the new liquid from your own vape is a bad idea at the moment. If the e-cigarette has been lying or standing somewhere in public space, thorough cleaning is recommended before the next use, especially if the drip tip has come into contact with surfaces.
As for products purchased online, possibly imported, Simon Bauer from Vape Scene Investigation spoke at the beginning of the pandemic of nine days at most that the corona virus can stay on surfaces. The number has not yet been scientifically refuted. According to the RKI, however, no case of COVID-19 transmission through surface contact has been documented to date. Here it is important to exercise a sense of proportion, when in doubt, caution is the mother of the porcelain box. It is unlikely to become infected on the surface of a product, and things are in the mail for some time. However, disinfecting the packaging and items for a new purchase does no harm and provides more security for you and others.
One can only speculate about the delivery situation after the now effective “Lockdown Light”. This time, the situation is not as unexpected for retailers, consumers and manufacturers as it was in March, and everyone has certainly learned from the crisis. As of now (end of October) there are no plans to shut down retail again. On the other hand, the pandemic has taught us how short the half-life of news can be. A personal stockpiling of evaporator heads, liquid or other accessories, even a little more than normal, can never be wrong.
Joey Hoffmann has published an interesting fact check on the subject of vaping and the corona risk on his blog vapers.guru.
With this in mind: Stay healthy and stay at home whenever possible!