The UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA) is calling on the government to consider classifying vape shops as essential retail, as the UK enters a new national lockdown.
Many smokers have also made New Year’s resolutions to quit, and vaping has proved to be one of the best ways to achieve this. Ensuring that smokers can access the customer service, experience, knowledge, and advice that is offered in stores during lockdown is vitally important.
Says John Dunne, director general of the UKVIA: “It’s not just about providing a lifeline to vape businesses during lockdown, but also to vapers and smokers for whom vaping represents a life-changing decision.
“Whilst we fully recognise the need for this latest lockdown, as the COVID-19 situation worsens across many parts of the country, the vaping industry should be seen as a sector which provides essential goods and services.
“We must remember that earlier this year Public Health England acknowledged the contribution played by vaping in helping smokers quit. The Royal College of Physicians also found that e-cigarettes are effective in helping people to stop smoking. Recent research has again highlighted that vape products are much more effective than NRTs in helping smokers give up.
“We welcome the recent announcement to publish a new tobacco control plan in July 2021 and want to help the government achieve its smokefree by 2030 target, but in order to do so we need to be able to offer the same level of service, expertise, and products throughout lockdown. We will continue to make these points strongly to the Government on behalf of the industry and will ask them again to consider vape stores as essential retail as Germany and France have already done.
“We take safety very seriously and vape retail stores are already well equipped to be COVID compliant. Vape stores, for example, are able to control the number of customers in a store at any one time. We want to make sure that smokers are supported at this difficult time, and that those who already vape can continue to gain access to vape devices, e-liquids, and specialist advice in person.
“It continues to be a concern that during lockdowns the risk of passive smoking to the families of smokers is increased. It is therefore vital that the services and expertise of our members remains available at this time.
“According to research one million smokers have already quit smoking during the pandemic and we want to seize on the positives of this situation to encourage that number to grow. The worst thing that could happen is to see former smokers tempted back into smoking as a result of not having access to the services we can provide.
“These are undoubtedly tough times for any industry and the vaping sector is no exception. The status of vape stores needs to be reconsidered, as there is a great opportunity to help smokers achieve their New Year resolution to stop smoking at the same time as protecting the thousands of jobs that our industry employs in manufacturing, wholesale, quality control, and retail.”