Research conducted by the Scottish Grocers’ Federation has discovered a lack of public support for stiffer regulation of tobacco harm reduction products such as vaping equipment. Its findings come at a time when many are calling for a relaxation of restrictions following Brexit in order to encourage more smokers to switch to electronic cigarettes.
The Scottish Grocers’ Federation serves the Scottish convenience store sector. It works to support retailers and their staff in running their business, working with suppliers and manufacturers, and helping service providers within the industry.
John Lee, the Head of Policy and Public Affairs, previously explained the Federation’s position on tobacco harm reduction: “Whilst it goes without saying that we all support a reduction in smoking, there is no question that their replacement on the shelves with a less harmful alternative is good not just for the nation’s physical health, but also for the health of our sector. Potentially E-cigarettes and reduced-risk products could be a very important sales category for small retailers”.
Its research, conducted on its behalf by the Diffley Partnership, discovered less than a quarter of Scots want to see restrictions on the access to electronic cigarette products or a curb on access to honest information about them. They surveyed 2500 adults and found 63% agreed that vaping is “definitely less harmful” than smoking.
The Scottish Grocers’ Federation called for politicians and people working in public health to “ensure e-cigarettes are properly positioned to help Scotland meet its smoke-free target”.
Lee added: “Scottish people are expressing their wishes on the future of e-cigarettes, and we want to support them for the good of our public health. Our member convenience stores want to play their part in the massive effort needed to switch smokers to vaping. More vapers are getting their information from stores like ours or from specialist vape shops than from their doctor or NHS stop smoking services, which shows the vital role that retail stores can play in helping Scot’s improve their health.”
Dr Lion Shahab, a man behind much of the positive research coming out of University College London, commented: “There is increasing evidence from high-quality trials and real-world studies that they can help smokers stop, many of whom will have struggled to quit with other means while conferring only a fraction of the harm from combustible cigarettes. In population health terms, e-cigarettes, together with existing smoking cessation support, should therefore be seen as a public good.”
The government in Westminster is currently looking to change the law governing vaping. Many experts are calling on it to allow manufacturers and shops to tell the truth about how well e-cigs work at helping smokers switch and the vastly reduced level of risk.
They are also being urged to change the maximum concentration in an e-liquid bottle to help current long-term smokers switch successfully, as well as being asked to remove the 10ml cap on bottle size and the 2ml cap on tank size.