The study which was published a few days back, points out that besides selling products, vape shops tend to offer behavioural support to smokers seeking to quit and that health professionals could benefit by understanding their role in helping smokers quit, and work hand in hand with them. There are about 2,000 vape shops in Britain, and vapers are known to prefer purchasing their products from such outlets where they tend to receive one to one advice on how best to use the products in order to quit and which products to purchase.
The researchers looked specifically at the role these outlets have in helping smokers quit. The research was carried out by going on location to observe the interactions between vape shop assistants and their customers, and interviews with about 40 people who switched from smoking to vaping were carried out.
Vape shop assistants found to offer tailored advice to smokers
Lead researcher Dr. Emma Ward said, “Previous evidence suggests that 90 per cent of attempts to quit smoking eventually end in relapse. Smokers are addicted to nicotine, but there are also lots of complex psychosocial behaviours associated with smoking. Nicotine replacement therapy doesn’t always address the behavioural and social aspects of smoking, but switching to e-cigarettes can be a really effective way to stop.”
She pointed out that since e-cigarettes are not licensed for medicinal use, very often vape shops act as the first line of support for vapers, adding, “We found that vape shops provided effective behavioural support to help quitters stay smoke free. Shop assistants were really keen to understand customers’ smoking preferences and give tailored advice about the most appropriate products. And they were an ongoing point of contact for practical help.”
Ward spoke of the personalized service that these outlets offer, saying that support from vape shops supports abstinence. “We found that shop assistants troubleshoot with customers if they had relapsed and try and find a solution, such as fixing their device or upping their nicotine strength.” The study authors concluded that these outlets provide an opportunity for health professionals who could work hand in hand with them, and offer further training where needed, in order to secure the best possible outcomes for their patients.
The benefit of collaborating with vape shops
Principal study investigator, Dr Caitlin Notley, a Society for the Study of Addiction Research Fellow at UEA’s Norwich Medical School, said, “Vape shops could be very valuable allies to the NHS in the fight against smoking.” Notley went on to refer to the updated report about e-cigarettes just released by the PHE, pointing out that most smokers prefer turning to e-cigarettes for smoking cessation rather than other cessation aids.
Furthermore added Notley, “Our study shows that it is just as important to offer ongoing support and give advice on which vape set-up to choose, and how best to use e-cigarettes, particularly to help people stay quit in the long term. Vape shops are well placed to provide this type of support.”