A study conducted by the University of East Anglia and funded by Cancer Research UK suggests that the NHS should consider working in partnership with reputable vape shops to aid smoking cessation.
The study, published in February 2018 highlights that as well as selling vaping products, shops also offer behavioural support to smokers looking to quit traditional cigarettes. If health professional were able to further understand and support this, they could work closely with vape shops to help people quit.
With around 2,000 vape shops in the UK, researchers focused their study on the role that these outlets have in helping smokers to quit. By observing interactions between vape shop assistants and customers on location, researchers we able to then interview over 40 people who had switched to vaping from traditional cigarettes.
Dr Emma Ward is the lead researcher on the study and she highlighted that; “Previous evidence suggests that 90% 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.”
The study pointed out that since vaping products are currently not licensed for medical use, vape shops often act as the first line of support for vapers, “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.”
Vape shops were found to also help and support vapers who had relapsed, guiding them with nicotine strength options and suggesting better devices. Principal study investigator, Dt Caitlin Notley stressed that vape shops could be a valuable ally to the NHS in the fight against smoking, referencing the fact that a recent PHE report highlighted that most smokers turned to e-cigarettes compared to other cessation aids.