Rite Aid, Walgreens raise minimum age to 21 for tobacco sales
smoking Cigarettes tobacco in hand with a soft-focus. concept quit Cigarettes are dangerous to health.

The state of New York has become the epicenter for the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S. As of Thursday afternoon, the state has 37,258 cases.

With the surge has come renewed calls to ban the sale of cigarettes and vaping products in the state.

The argument is that the coronavirus is a respiratory illness at heart. Smokers and vapers are, therefore, more at risk if they become sick.

The New York State Academy of Family Physicians even recommended last weekend a ban on cigarettes and vaping products in the Empire State until the pandemic is over, according to the New York Daily News.

But smokers and vapers are not easily deterred. A smoker for eight years, Lauren from Sylvania, who didn't want her last name included in this story, talked about her battle to quit cigarettes. "Any virus could have an impact on smokers. I am switching over to vaping. My husband's concerned. He wants me to quit," she said.

Kenny Zimmerman of Perrysburg has been vaping for three years and doesn't have any plans to stop. "Not for the coronavirus, not for that. I don't think it's going to affect it," he said, adding that when he had the flu earlier this month that he stopped vaping temporarily.

In Ohio, cigarettes are still widely available at places deemed as essential services, like gas stations and grocery stores. Vaping products, however, aren't as easy to find. Every vaping store in town is supposed to be closed for the foreseeable future after Gov. Mike DeWine's stay-at-home order.

How resilient will cigarette users and vapers be in the face of a shortage of e-liquid, vaping coils, or a lack of smokes? The American Heart Association puts the question into perspective: "nicotine is just as hard, or harder, to quit than heroin … but people don't recognize that."

  • Silas Tsang

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Facts not fear: Putting COVID-19 into context

WTOL 11’s coverage of the coronavirus is rooted in Facts, not Fear. Visit https://www.wtol.com/coronavirus-covid-19 for comprehensive coverage, find out what you need to know about northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan specifically, learn more about the symptoms, and keep tabs on the cases around the world here. Have a question? Text it to us at 419-248-1100.

Protect yourself from coronavirus

  • Cover: Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
  • Dispose: Throw used tissues in a lined can.
  • Wash hands: Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing; going to the bathroom; and before eating or preparing food.
  • Hand sanitizer: If soap and water are not readily available, use and alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol, covering all surfaces of your hands and rubbing them together until they feel dry.
  • Avoid touching: Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.