NNA Ireland says, “It is essential that all of us follow the advice of government and health departments, keeping ‘social distance’ and minimising leaving our homes. These are stressful times and today further restrictions, closing all non-essential retail and business has been announced. We at the NNA Ireland recognise the necessity of these measures but hope the government recognises the role vape shops have to play in helping fight this virus.”
“It is important that people who have quit smoking and remain smoke-free by using low risk nicotine products continue to do so at this time. We do not need any further complications adding to the current crisis. In times of stress, people may be tempted to return to smoking, especially if their regular supply of vape products becomes difficult to access. Italy was first to include vape shops as essential services during the lockdown.”
NNA Ireland highlight a recent statement by Dr Riccardo Polosa, founder of the Center of Excellence for the Acceleration of Harm Reduction(CoEHAR) in Italy, where he said: “I think it is wrong to deprive smokers of the possibility of switching to less harmful [products] and even more unfair to let thousands of vapers move to smoke. We must guarantee access to alternative tools to quit smoking.”
“I couldn’t agree more.” said Dr John Madden, retired GP and NNA Ireland trustee, “Cigarettes will continue to be readily available from supermarkets and corner shops so it is essential that vape shops stay open, it would be a shame, if when this crisis is over, there was seen to be a rise in the amount of people smoking.”
Dr Garrett McGovern, an addiction specialist with the Priority Medical Clinic, said: “The emergence of COVID-19 has put an undue strain on an already overburdened health service. We need to encourage as many people as possible to make attempts to stop smoking (the effects of which could lead to a heightened risk of death in people with COVID-19). No impediments should be put in the way of smokers who want to, or have already, quit using e-cigarettes. The recent reports of e-cigs increasing the severity of COVID-19 infection is without foundation and is not helpful to smokers who are trying to stop.”
NNA Ireland note that while some vaping products are sold by supermarkets the range is limited, and this caters to a small proportion of the vaping market. Also, while online sales are available, not everyone has access to or confidence in online shopping.
“We hope everyone stays well and stays smoke-free. We know how essential vaping is to that and we hope the government also recognise this.”
Professor Linda Bauld said that the similar situation in the UK was being addressed: “I understand that Public Health England is actively discussing this with UK government. As you know vape shops permitted to remain open in Italy and France. Hopefully a decision will be made soon, but it will be important not to allow sampling and testing in store.”