This week has already seen the two UK-based trade bodies speak out against the government’s move to restrict access to reduced harm products. Both the UK Vaping Industry Association and the Independent British Vape Trade Association implored the government to reconsider the action given that vaping is at least 95% safer than smoking and it hopes to achieve Smoke-free status by 2030.
We Vape, a consumer organisation campaigning on behalf of vapers in the UK, has said that due to the Government not allowing vape shops to remain open as a vital health service around 5,800 people may not have the opportunity to quit smoking this month.
Mark Oates, Director of We Vape told Planet of the Vapes: “Vape shop staff are excellent ambassadors for advising people on quitting smoking. They can inform a smoker about the right products for them and help them navigate what is for some, a complicated subject.”
Vaping helps up to 70,000 smokers quit each year
We Vape has cited a study by UCL researchers and led by Dr Emma Beard. It was funded by Cancer Research UK and published in the journal Addiction.
The researchers assessed data on 50,598 smokers between 2006 and 2017. They concluded that in 2017, vaping helped between 50,700 and 69,930 smokers quit, who would probably still be smoking if it wasn’t for the help of an e-cigarette. Meaning throughout the November lockdown 5,800 people may not quit due to vape shops being closed.
Vaping is the most successful smoking cessation tool
Oates added: “Seeing as lockdown is an attempt to try and reduce deaths. It surely makes sense to allow vape shops to remain open so that they can help reduce long-term smoking deaths. We know from the recent Cochrane study that vaping is nearly twice as effective as NRT therapy at helping people quit smoking”
The Cochrane study found that Nicotine e-cigarettes were more effective at helping people stop smoking than Nicotine replacement therapy. For every 100 people using e-cigarettes 10 would successfully stop smoking after 6 months whereas only 6 would do so using Nicotine Replacement Therapy.
Oates concluded: “It is time that the Government re-assessed its decision not to allow the UK’s Vape shops to remain open during this lockdown. It does seem a little strange that Estate Agents are allowed to remain open and conduct viewings and yet vape shops can’t provide a smoking cessation service to the public”.
When the last lockdown was announced, The New Nicotine Alliance (NNA), Britain’s leading tobacco harm reduction charity, denounced the proposals, saying: “Closure of vape shops should on no account be considered. We are living through extraordinary times, with restrictions on personal freedoms – understandably - not seen since the second world war. It is essential that all of us observe the advice of the government, but the NNA hopes that … vape shops would be excluded on public health grounds.
“These are very stressful times and access to safer nicotine products must be maintained. Supermarkets do sell some vaping products, and - while they are very helpful to many former smokers - they are expensive, with little variety, and do not cater for a large sector of society. Vaping has made a large contribution to the UK’s public health by attracting smokers away from combustible tobacco, and furthermore preventing relapse. It is important that this continues.”