IBVTA writes to Welsh Government
The IBVTA shares the view of Professor John Britton of the University of Nottingham, and former Chair of the Royal College of Physicians Tobacco Advisory Group, that vape stores should be deemed essential retail outlets.
Every year, over 70,000 people across the UK die of a smoking related illness, and smoking is the largest single cause of avoidable early death in Wales. In 2018, around 5,600 deaths in people aged 35 and over were attributable to smoking, which is 16.5 percent of all deaths in this age group.
Reducing the health impacts of smoking is a recognised policy priority for the Welsh Government. Smoking remains one of the main causes of inequalities in health in Wales, with smoking rates in the most deprived areas over double those of the least deprived areas. Providing ready access to safer alternative products should be at the forefront during consideration by governments 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. However, the vast majority of those vapers are still addicted to nicotine at least to some degree, and in many cases are reliant on their local vape shop to ensure continuity of supply.
Should e-cigarettes, e-liquids and associated accessories not be readily available, a proportion of those vapers 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 revert entirely to smoking rather than vaping. Despite plain packaging for combustible cigarettes, and the display restrictions imposed on the product set, 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. Our members 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.
The IBVTA therefore calls on the Welsh Government to ensure that dedicated vape stores can remain open while the spread of coronavirus and associated illness is brought under control.