In recent studies, around a quarter of smoking Scots said they are smoking more during since the first COVID-19 pandemic lockdown. Ease of access to reduced harm products came under fire last week as First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced her administration would be looking again at click & collect services from “non-essential” retailers.
UK Government advice states: “E-cigarettes can be an effective aid to stopping smoking and staying smokefree' and that 'for most people vaping remains significantly less harmful than smoking'.”
It has long been accepted that accidental quitters account for a sizeable number of those managing to stop smoking. Preventing access to vape stores is certain to be detrimental to the Scotland’s ambition to achieve Smokefree 2034.
UKVIA director John Dunne said: “Cancer Research UK has already cautioned that Scotland is on course to miss its smoke-free target by 16 years. All the nations of the UK must reconsider how they support the vaping industry and the public during lockdown. Squandering the potential of modern, harm-reduction tools is a disaster for public health. I am writing to ministers and MPs to urge them to protect click-and-collect retail provisions, and the British vaping sector stands ready to support in any way it can.”
VPZ’s Director of Manufacturing and Compliance, Doug Mutter added: “Years of hard work in reducing smoking rates in Scotland are on the verge of being wasted if we fail to act, by not providing the tools people need to stop this deadly habit. Specialist vaping stores have done a fantastic job in adapting safely to trying times, so the suspension of click-and-collect is a huge blow. We must be allowed to properly support those seeking advice and guidance on harm-reduction alternatives.”
UKVIA has already called on the UK Government to rethink the status of vape shops this year, announcing that vape shops should be considered “essential” as England entered its third lockdown.
Rather than supporting UKVIA’s tobacco harm reduction call, UK anti-smoking charity Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) attacked UKVIA by fixating on its membership: “UKVIA has tobacco industry members”. Following the joint VPZ/UKVIA announcement, ASH repeated its nonsensical approach and referred newsletter readers to Tobacco Tactics, an anti-vaping website run by the University of Bath and funded by Michael Bloomberg.