March 25, 2020
Could the Government be about to give the green light to the UK’s vape shops to open their doors once more?
Only 24 hours after demanding all but a few retail stores close their doors, off-licences and licenced shops have been given the nod to re-open as “essential businesses”.
So will vape shops be next? The industry certainly hopes so.
Doug Mutter, director of compliance and manufacturing for the VPZ vape shop chain was one of many industry figures to be dismayed that vape shops had not been identified as “essential”:
“We are disappointed with the lack of clarification from the Government regarding where vaping retailers stand. Other European nations had recognised the work vaping specialists do in reducing the stress on health services and kept the local stores open. We had expected this to be the case and had begun investing in new processes in order to manage our business in such an environment.”
VPZ is the UK’s largest vape shop chain and all 155 stores had closed their doors as of 24 March.
Earlier in the week, John Dunne, director of industry body UKVIA, had warned that closing vape stores could lead many ex-smokers to return to their habit:
“The UK vaping industry, including retail outlets, online stores, manufacturers and compliance specialists, has a vital role to play in communities across the country, both from an economic and public health perspective and we want the Government to recognise this in their response to the unprecedented challenge we face.
“In particular, if vape shops were to close it would mean that smokers and vapers would not have access to specialist advice. Keeping the vaping sector open for business is also crucial to meeting the Government’s target for England to be smoke free by 2030.”
As with all COVID-19-related stories, this picture is changing fast and if there is a further change in UK policy we shall bring it to you.
Update: 12:25 25/03/15
Well that was quick. VPZ says lobbying is going on to make a change in the guidance right now. Read his latest comments below:
“At VPZ we had fully expected vaping retailers to be given essential trader status in a controlled manner much like in Italy, Spain and other European nations. We have reached out to the relevant Government departments requesting them too look again at the case and to reopen vaping stores across the UK. We hope to see a change in the coming days because a lot of our customers have already reached out and expressed concern about access to products.”