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A digital VApril: how will it work?

March 30, 2020


The inevitable news that this year’s VApril in going online has come.

The annual push to help smokers give up their combustible cigarette habit has become another victim of the coronavirus pandemic, which has now torn up the traditional calendars of sport, culture as well as retail.

Vapril’s organisers, the UKVIA, usually organise promotional events in stores and encourage businesses to do likewise. As the country sits in lockdown this is impossible. The plan, instead, is to use technology to keep VApril alive and help business at this difficult time.

The UKVIA’s director John Dunne says: “This year the campaign will harness digital platforms to reach out to UK smokers and vapers during the coronavirus lockdown and continue to provide specialist advice for those trying to quit smoking.”

So, will it work and what does it mean for retailers who use VApril as an annual opportunity to lift sales?

Firstly, it is worth underlining the challenges that stand in the way of the industry right now. VApril began very much as an event targeted at specialist vape shops. Those stores have now been mandated to shut by a government which made the controversial decision to not include these stores in a list of essential retail businesses.

This means vape retailing in the UK is now limited to supermarkets and local shops and any online service which specialist stores can offer. Many of these stores offer great ranges of vaping products but are hamstrung in the in-depth advice they can offer thanks to social distancing and limiting shopper numbers in store.

The reorganised version of VApril recognises this, reflects this and surprisingly offers perhaps the most compelling support to smokers of any VApril yet.

At the heart of the VApril campaign will be an online hub, www.vapril.org, which is now live to support the campaign. On the site smokers can access information and expert advice covering vape devices, flavours and nicotine levels.

Smokers who visit www.vapril.org can also download a special “Switch on to Vaping” guide and pose questions online to an expert industry panel.

Meanwhile a number of vapers also share their positive life changing experiences of making the switch from smoking to vaping on the website and there is a vaper’s six-step guide to coronavirus.

Smokers may not be able to get the valuable one-on-one customer service that can be so vital when making the move to vape products but it’s also unlikely that one encounter in-store would offer the in-depth and up-to-date information on offer on the new VApril website.

Privately, the industry is also hopeful that – with millions working from home and using computers and smartphones more than ever – an online campaign will have more effect and hit a larger audience.

The UKVIA describes VApril as “the world’s largest vaping consumer education campaign” and market research from One Poll suggests one-in-five smokers has heard of VApril and nearly three quarters of these (72%) said that the campaign had influenced them to make the switch from smoking to vaping.

VApril 2020 looks like it will be very different but there’s every reason to believe it will have a big effect on helping another tranche of smokers make that vital leap towards a harm reducing option such as vape.


VApril begins on 1 April. Vaping companies and associations in the UK and internationally can contact the UKVIA on [email protected] to gain free access to all the campaign’s materials.