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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Longitudinal Tracking of Vape Shop Compliance With State Business Regulations Within Southern California Ethnic Neighborhoods During the COVID-19 Pandemic.


The overall aim of this study is to examine vape shop business operations during COVID-19 among a cohort of 88 vape shops in the Greater Los Angeles area in Southern California, located in ethnically diverse communities. A total of six web- and/or phone-based assessments were conducted over a 12-week period (April 1, 2020-June 10, 2020), extending from the mandated closure of nonessential businesses (Stage 1; Assessments 1-3) to the reopening of nonessential sectors (Stage 2; Assessments 4-6), to evaluate business operations (open and closure statuses). The proportion of vape shops found to be noncompliant with the Governor's executive order (i.e., open) during Stage 1 gradually increased from 54 (61.4%) at Assessment 1 (week of April 1, 2020) to 58 (65.9%) at Assessment 3 (week of April 29, 2020). Moreover, vape shops located in Hispanic/Latino and Korean/Asian communities (vs. those in non-Hispanic White and African American communities) were more likely to stay open both during and after the shutdown at Assessments 1 and 6. More specifically, vape shops located in Hispanic/Latino communities were significantly more likely to offer walk-in service during Assessment 1 (during the shutdown), and vape shops in Hispanic/Latino and Korean/Asian were significantly more likely to offer walk-in service during Assessment 6 (after the re-opening). This study demonstrates high rates of noncompliance with shutdown orders among vape shops located in ethnic communities, thus suggesting higher contextual risk factors of COVID-19 exposure among certain ethnic communities.

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