IBVTA writes to MPs and Peers
The IBVTA has been working with government, the devolved Parliaments, and public health stakeholders since early March, before the first national lockdown, that our members’ businesses be deemed as essential and be allowed to remain open while the coronavirus outbreak is brought under control.
Last week we shared details of how vape shop owners and operators, as well as their customers, can help us with our current campaign.
This morning we have written to MPs and Peers regarding the announcement that vape shops in England are required to close from the 5th of November, and a copy of the text of that letter can be found below. The IBVTA have already received some positive responses, but will be continuing to engage on this issue over the coming days.
I am writing to you concerning the announcement on Saturday October 31st that retail shops deemed to be non-essential, and therefore required to close during the upcoming national lockdown includes vape shops. The IBVTA believes this position needs to be reconsidered urgently, and we hope this letter might go some way to helping you understand why.
Every year, over 70,000 people across the UK die of a smoking related illness. Providing ready access to safer alternative products should be at the forefront during consideration by any policy makers as to which businesses are deemed essential and permitted to remain open.
Almost all of the UK’s 3.2 million vapers are ex-smokers or current smokers. These vapers have replaced entirely or are reducing their combustible tobacco dependence with a much safer (and less addictive) alternative. Almost 60% of them no longer smoke cigarettes at all. However, the vast majority of those vapers are still addicted to nicotine at least to some degree, and in many cases are reliant on vape shops to ensure continuity of supply.
Dedicated vape shops are currently required to close from Thursday November 5th, as they are not deemed essential, and the wide range of choice of e-cigarettes, e-liquids and associated accessories they provide will not be readily available to their customers. A proportion of those customers will be very tempted to buy a packet of cigarettes to tide them over, and the proportion that are currently using both e-cigarettes and cigarettes will be likely to revert entirely to smoking rather than vaping. Cigarettes are still available in a huge range of outlets, and are far more easily accessible than vaping products.
Unless one has made the journey of moving from smoking to a less harmful alternative, it can be hard to understand the distress that such a situation can cause to an ex-smoker. Vape shops are close enough to their customers’ experience to understand it completely. More importantly, addiction to combustible tobacco is both extremely harmful, and much easier to move towards than away from.
Professor John Britton of the University of Nottingham, and former Chair of the Royal College of Physicians Tobacco Advisory Group, and Professor Lion Shahab of the Tobacco and Alcohol Research Group of University College London, are among a number of public health stakeholders that hold the view that vape stores should be deemed essential retail outlets.
We therefore call on you to help to ensure that dedicated vape stores can remain open while the spread of coronavirus and associated illness is brought under control. These businesses, which supply smokers with the most effective and popular method of quitting smoking, are at least as essential as off-licences. We hope this may be brought up in any parliamentary debate on the detail of the upcoming lockdown.
Gillian Golden, CEO