Should tobacco product sales be banned during the COVID-19 pandemic?
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There are calls from some health groups for limits, or outright bans, on tobacco products to help reduce the risks of complications due to COVID-19. Some medical experts think that smoking and vaping can make symptoms worse.
One early scientific study indicates that COVID-19 patients in China were more than twice as likely to get severe infections if they were smokers.
Smoking also means repeatedly bringing your hand to your mouth, when we’re all being cautioned not to touch our faces.
The New York State Academy of Family Physicians has called for a ban on sales of tobacco and e-cigarettes during the pandemic. The International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease has increased its push for an end to sales.
“This is really the best time for governments to take action and to force the tobacco industry to stop selling tobacco in their countries,” the union’s Dr. Gan Quan said.
Around 34 million people in the U.S. smoke cigarettes. Dr. Michael Siegel at the Boston University School of Public Health agrees that quitting smoking and vaping will have positive health benefits, but says says a ban could have unwanted consequences.
“You really do have a danger of a black market developing,” he said. “To me that is the main obstacle to prohibition, honestly. Not the economic consequences to the tobacco companies.”
The National Association of Tobacco Outlets did not have a comment at this time.
Correction (April 13, 2020): An earlier version of this story misspelled Quan’s name.
COVID-19 Economy FAQs
It’s still the question on everyone’s minds: What’s going on with extra COVID-19 unemployment benefits?
The $600-a-week payments have ended, officially, as of July 31. For now, there is no additional federal pandemic unemployment assistance. House Democrats want to renew the $600 payments. Senate Republicans have proposed giving the unemployed 70% of their most recent salary by this October, when state unemployment offices have had time to reconfigure their computer systems to do those calculations. Until then, jobless workers would just get another $200. But, nothing has been signed into law yet.
What’s the latest on evictions?
For millions of Americans, things are looking grim. Unemployment is high, and pandemic eviction moratoriums have expired in states across the country. And as many people already know, eviction is something that can haunt a person’s life for years. For instance, getting evicted can make it hard to rent again. And that can lead to spiraling poverty.
Which retailers are requiring that people wear masks when shopping? And how are they enforcing those rules?
Walmart, Target, Lowe’s, CVS, Home Depot, Costco — they all have policies that say shoppers are required to wear a mask. When an employee confronts a customer who refuses, the interaction can spin out of control, so many of these retailers are telling their workers to not enforce these mandates. But, just having them will actually get more people to wear masks.
You can find answers to more questions on unemployment benefits and COVID-19 here.
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