Though Purdue warned that shared vaping devices have contributed to the spread of the coronavirus among students, Boilermakers and nearby smoke shops say they haven’t seen a significant decrease in usage since the University’s announcement.
Purdue spokesperson Tim Doty said on Sept. 3 that the University is finding congregate housing conditions and “shared vaping devices” are contributing to the spread of COVID-19.
To deter students from sharing these types of devices, signs warning students of the harmful effects of vaping have been posted around residence halls and dining courts. These not only warn students against vaping because of the risks of spreading the virus, but they also provide guidance for students who do vape.
Deborah Spoerner, a nursing professor, has conducted various studies relating to vaping and the spread of the coronavirus.
“Sharing (vape) devices can spread COVID-19 because the virus is found in saliva,” she said, adding that no research has been conducted into the transmission of the virus through the resulting vapors.
While the University has made efforts to deter students from vaping, or at least sharing vaping devices, local smoke shops don’t seem to feel the brunt of this initiative.
When asked if there has been a decrease in the purchasing of different vape products due to the coronavirus, Darla Rothenburger, a store manager at the Discount Den said, “Not really. here has definitely been a decrease in the purchasing of vape products since the age was raised to 21.”
That being said, Rothenburger also thinks “there should always be a level of concern about these products” and their link to the spread of the coronavirus.
Gunveet Luthra, an employee at the Lucky Store in West Lafayette, said federal guidelines regarding vaping have affected revenue more than the pandemic.
“Some of the disposable vapes are getting banned, that’s why we are losing business — but not because of COVID,” Luthra said. “It’s an addiction, so people won’t quit just because of COVID.”
Some students say they haven’t seen all that much vaping around campus.
“I haven’t noticed a lot of vaping. I’ve noticed a few people, but it’s definitely not as bad as a high school bathroom,” said Connor Mulby, a freshman in Exploratory Studies. “I think people vape on their own time.”