Dr Shahab is an Associate Professor in Health Psychology at UCL who completed his doctorate by looking at the role of smoking-related biomarkers in smoking cessation, under the supervision of Professor Robert West. He is one of the country’s experts when it comes to tobacco harm reduction research.
“I’ve done a fair amount of work to evaluate the positive effects that e-cigarettes can have on population health. In these uncertain times, I would urge the UK government to extend the ‘essential status’ to vape shops, to allow people who’ve successfully stopped smoking continued access to vape products, in order to prevent them from returning to smoking and thereby putting an additional strain on the NHS during this pandemic.”
Dr Shahab’s call is mirrored by Kevin Barron, the former MP for Rother Valley who worked diligently to promote vaping as an alternative to smoking while at parliament. He said: “The government allows off licences to reopen to enable people to drink alcohol, but keeps vape shops closed, risking vapers to return to tobacco. This cannot be right, we didn’t get to the lowest recorded smokers in this country without vaping, it played a major part.”
Shahab and Barron’s position is supported by the UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA). The trade body says that although the government guidance is that all vape stores should close, businesses can continue to offer an online or home delivery service.
UKVIA has contacted the government directly to discuss the idea of “a controlled and reduced service via vape stores and we will keep the industry updated.”