Govt Urged to Keep Vape Shops Open, so People Don’t Start Smoking Again

The UK government has been asked to keep vape shops across Britain open during the coronavirus lockdown, with a vaping association arguing they are an essential service people need at this time of public health crisis — so they don’t start smoking again. 

Smoking cigarettes is believed to put people who contract the Covid-19 virus at particular risk because their lungs are weaker, doctors believe. Around 3.6 million people in the UK currently use e-cigarettes — most of them former smokers who have managed to quit by vaping instead, because they get the nicotine they want while avoiding the many harmful chemicals given off by burning tobacco. 

This risk has led Public Health England to issue guidance about vaping that says it’s “almost 95% safer” than smoking and that people who smoke should switch to e-cigarettes as an effective way to quit. The NHS issues the same advice, as part of its annual Stoptober stop-smoking campaign. 

Why Keep Vape Shops Open?

E-cigarettes and the e-liquid (or vape juice, as it’s commonly called) they use are available at supermarkets in the UK. But the UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA) says that’s not sufficient because people — smokers in particular — cannot get the kind of specialist advice and recommendations they often need from a vape store about what they should buy. Supermarket workers most likely are not knowledgeable about the vaping products they sell and are therefore unable to offer advice to customers, the trade body says. 

The association says that while its’ member retailers’ shops remain closed under government instructions about the types of businesses allowed to stay open during the coronavirus crisis, some are operating home-delivery services.  But this it is not enough and vape stores should be open to the public. 

“Many of our retailers are already reporting that customers are extremely concerned about not being able to have access to vape products during the coronavirus outbreak,” the group said. “Whilst newsagents and supermarkets are being allowed to sell vape products, they carry limited ranges and are not able to provide the sheer breadth of expert advice and product lines of speciality stores.”

Vaping’s ‘Public Health Role’

UKVIA director, John Dunne, states that because e-cigarettes can keep people from smoking — thereby helping to improve their health — people should be given access to them via the many vape stores around Britain.  

“The UK vaping industry, including retail outlets, online stores, manufacturers and compliance specialists, has a vital role to play in communities across the country, both from an economic and public health perspective and we want the government to recognise this in their response to the unprecedented challenge we face,” he said.

It is also important to keep the vaping sector open to the public, so the government stands a good chance of meeting its target to go “smoke-free” by 2030, he added. Like a growing number of countries, the UK is hoping to dramatically drive down the number of people who smoke, reaching a point — hopefully at the end of this decade — when only a small percentage of people still smoke cigarettes. It’s believed vapes will play a vital part in this public health initiative, as smoking in the UK kills around 78,000 people a year, representing the single biggest preventable cause of death in the four-nation country. 

For now, vape shops in towns and cities around the UK remain closed. But people can order from a reputable online vape store and get the supplies they want delivered.