The UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA) has expressed its alarm at figures reported by ITV News indicating an increase in ‘stress smoking’ as a result of COVID-19, calling them “shocking in this day and age”. The trade body has also repeated its call to Government to review vaping regulation which will allow smokers to better weigh up the comparative health risks between using conventional or e-cigarettes.
The data, based on a survey of 1,935 adults aged over 18 in October 2020, conducted by analysts Mintel, showed that 39% of smokers aged 18-34 said they are now smoking more regularly. The survey also indicated 10% of former smokers restarting the habit since the start of the pandemic.
Says John Dunne, Director General of the UK Vaping Industry Association: “Whilst it was good to see that the report showed that sales of e-cigarettes have increased by 7%, it is shocking to see so many smokers smoking more or returning to their habit in this day and age when there are much less harmful alternatives, such as vape products, available.
“The overriding problem is that misinformation on vaping is still prevalent. Many smokers still believe that it is at least as harmful, or indeed more of a health risk than smoking, when evidence from highly credible and respectable organisations such as Public Health England, British Heart Foundation and Cancer Research UK show that using vape products is a fraction of the risk of conventional cigarettes.
“As an industry we are already calling upon Government in their review of the Tobacco Related Products Regulations to look at evidence based messaging we can include on product packaging to raise awareness of the significant harm reduction opportunity that vaping represents for current smokers, including those that have wavered recently due to the pandemic and returned to their habit that they’d worked so hard to leave behind in the first place.
“As the most effective tool in helping smokers to quit compared to other NRTs, smokers need to be assured that the best way to quit smoking is through the use of vaping. Only by doing so will the Government realise it’s ambition of a smoke free nation by 2030.
“This is why we campaigned so hard to keep vape outlets open as essential shops during the lockdowns over the last year – not only to provide critical access to vape products for smokers looking to quit or those tempted to return to smoking, but also to educate them on how to make a successful switch to vaping.
“With vape shops now reopening in England and Wales and set to do the same in Scotland and Northern Ireland by the end of April, we hope that this will help stem the tide of increasing smoking rates and those returning to their old habits.”
The UKVIA is currently mid-way through its month-long VApril awareness campaign, which helps educate smokers on how to successfully transition to vaping.”