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‘Other stores aren’t your biggest competitors,’ category expert tells retailers

April 6, 2021

Former US presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg is among the most high-profile anti-vape campaigners (Credit: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers)

Upcoming interview with tobacco harm reduction expert outlines how stores can capitalise on the fast-growing vape sector post-lockdown

Clive Bates, one of the UK’s leading tobacco harm reduction experts, has warned retailers and manufacturers that the true rivals to their businesses are not competitors in the market but instead anti-nicotine organisations and media outlets who spread false or misleading stories in newspapers or on social media.

In an interview to be published in the next issue of Vape Business, Bates said:

“The threats come from outside – misleading communications, badly-designed regulation, and moral panic. Remember, that your biggest competitors are not your rivals in the industry, but forces that would like to close the whole industry down.”

Bates provides a number of pieces of advice to retailers, including joining forces to ensure the vape industry’s voices is heard: “[The campaign of misinformation from lobbyists] will create some bruising fights in the future, so joining a good trade association and be on your game when it comes to the policy arguments.”

The expert also advises retailers to ensure that best-practice responsible retailing is in place and this standard is maintained by both store owners and their staff. “Please avoid doing stupid stuff that allows [anti-vape campaigners] to accuse the whole industry of marketing to kids, deceiving people about risks, violating regulations, or otherwise being or looking irresponsible.”

However, Bates adds that the vape industry is in a good position to recover from the COVID-19, during which much of the industry has been shuttered or switched to online-only sales.

“Keep the faith,” Bates says: “It’s a good business with many existing and future consumers. It is contributing to a healthier, fitter society by solving one of the biggest and toughest problems in all of public health.  The basic ‘value proposition’, the offer from the industry to the consumer, is very strong and will, in my view, endure.”