The UK vaping industry, led by retailer VPZ, is fighting for essential status to stay open during the ongoing and future lockdowns brought on by the pandemic.
VPZ, a premium vape brand and retailer chain in the United Kingdom has issued a petition to parliament, calling on the government to change the industry’s status to “essential” so it can operate during lockdown periods.
If the petition VPZ is circulating among the domestic industry, and consumers reach 10,000 signatories, the government promises to respond with some action. At 100,000 actions, the government will bring the proposal to discussion before Parliament.
“Now more than ever, adult smokers who are ready to switch and those who already have done so need continued access to quality vaping products and support that only specialist vape stores can provide. Considering the pressure that the NHS and local authorities are under, we cannot expect them to be able to provide stop smoking services to all who require them. Government must reconsider the classification of vape shops to ensure we are able to continue the great work in reducing smoking numbers.”
“We are not underestimating the impact of Covid-19 on our community, nor are we asking for a return to normal. Click & collect services, appointment-only operations, or only one customer in the store at a time – there are a number of safe and appropriate solutions to help vapers, but we aren’t seeing sufficient movement towards any action,” said Doug Mutter, director of VPZ, in a press statement sent to Vaping Post via email.
“The lockdown has created an environment where smoking has been allowed to grow considerably and whilst this was inadvertent in the beginning, we can no longer simply ignore the evidence in front of us. Vape stores being closed, having no stop-smoking services and cigarette availability has never been higher,” Mutter added.
Mutter refers to a variety of public health and private data sets that show troubling trends of smoking and drug abuse during lockdown periods. UK industry groups like UKVIA and IBVTA have called for “specialty vapor shops” to be open during these times, too.
VPZ cites survey data from Public Health England — the same government agency that declares e-cigarettes to be 95 percent safer than smoking — where 29 percent of people reported smoking more during periods of lockdown. The company also cites its own survey, which found that 26 percent of smokers said they had increase the number of traditional cigarettes they use during lockdown periods. That said, the volume of cigarettes sold has risen during the pandemic in both the UK and the United States.
The Grocer, a British convenience store industry trade publication, reports that countries across Europe have different approaches to the current enforcement of pandemic policy.
Countries that permit vape shops to stay open in Finland, France, Switzerland, Denmark, Italy, Romania, Norway, The Netherlands, Cyprus, and Sweden. The government in the UK, Ireland, Spain, Belgium, and Germany have forced shops to shutter.
Vaping Post also reported on the role Dr Riccardo Polosa in lobbying the Italian government for changing its initial decision to close vapoe shops to instead remain open.