The Independent British Vape Trade Association (IBVTA) welcomes the release of a new study, funded by Cancer Research UK, which recognises the role reputable vape shops and their employees play in helping smokers switch to vaping.

This new study, undertaken by Dr Emma Ward, University of East Anglia and published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, found that vape shops provide behavioural support which could help people stop smoking and remain smoke free. According to the research, shop assistants were “really keen to understand customers’ smoking preferences and are able to give tailored advice about the most appropriate products.”. Additionally, the report recommends the NHS should consider working with reputable vape shops to help smokers quit.

There is a thriving independent vape industry in the UK providing consumers with a wide range of quality vape products. The UK’s independent vape industry has a global reputation for quality and innovation. According to one recent study, vaping is now the fastest growing industry in the UK and, after the United States, the UK is the second largest market for vape products in the world. At a local level, vape shops are one of the few areas of positive growth on our high streets. There are estimated to be 1,700 individual vape shops in the UK, of which 650 opened in 2016.

Unlike traditional cessation methods, vaping is empowering. It represents a market-based, user driven, public health insurgency. Increasingly smokers are turning away from state provided solutions and going to independent vape shops in the private sector when they want to stop smoking. No taxpayers money has been spent, yet smokers are stopping, switching and cutting down through the use of vape products.

Reputable, ethical vape shops remain the best place for smokers to get advice about switching from smoking to vaping. Employees are able to walk smokers through the variety of devices and e-liquids available to them, and recommend the product set best suited to their needs.

As the study identifies, this vital support goes beyond the initial purchase; “An unsatisfying vaping set-up, device malfunction, or a lack of access to vape supplies can trigger a smoking relapse. But support from vape shops can help sustain smoking abstinence. We found that shop assistants trouble shoot with customers if they had relapsed and try and find a solution, such as fixing their device or upping their nicotine strength.”.

As Professor Riccardo Polosa, Director of the Institute for Internal and Emergency Medicine of the University of Catania in Italy, has said:

A very good vape shop employee can be better than a trained smoking cessation counsellor..

The IBVTA now calls on the Government to allow independent vaping businesses to reach their full potential. As Public Health England (PHE) identified earlier this week, many thousands of smokers incorrectly believe that vaping is as harmful as smoking. This perception will only change when the industry has a proportionate regulatory landscape and sees the end of both the current near total ban on independent businesses being able to accurately promote their products, and the regular negative and inaccurate media coverage.

Ian Green, Owner of Southampton Vaping Centre and Chairman of the IBVTA’s Vendor Committee said:

It is wonderful to see a study that recognises the positive impact vape shops are having on the public health landscape. Every day IBVTA members across the country are helping people switch from smoking to vaping. Indeed, as the study identifies, our businesses are on the frontline day in day out and are the best solution for smokers and vapers.

Unfortunately, these same reputable businesses are currently suffering. The perfect storm of disproportionate regulation, enforcement inaction and hyperbolic reporting of inaccurate studies has resulted in a negative impact on the bottom lines of responsible businesses. Given the ability to advertise and a more proportionate regulatory regime, even more smokers would be able to switch to vaping with the support of their local vape shop, and significant sums of taxpayers money would be saved to be spent in other areas.”