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Simple advice to help you profit and save lives this VApril

March 9, 2020

REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

 Retailers can use VApril to help shoppers convert from combustible cigarettes to vaping

It isn’t very often that shopkeepers get to save their customers’ lives but helping even one shopper to kick the habit this April could do just that. Across the UK, vape shops, convenience stores and suppliers all will be working hard to help their shoppers say goodbye to combustible cigarettes and retailers who have the right information at hand can play a big part making this life-changing switch a reality.

So, this week we’re turning our VApril feature into something of a fact sheet that will load you – and your team – up with all the positive reasons why vaping and e-cigarettes should be the way forward for even the most habitual smoker.

First of all, potential customers want to know that the products you sell are safe, particularly after headlines of lung disease and deaths in the US. Shoppers need to know that the UK is one of the most tightly-regulated markets in the world and all products need to be cleared for sale by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulation Authority (MHRA).

“Unlike the US, all e-cigarette products in the UK are tightly regulated for quality and safety by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency and they operate the yellow card scheme, encouraging vapers to report any bad experiences,” Martin Dockrell, head of tobacco control at Public Health England explained during the health scare last year.

Deborah Arnott, the chief executive of the health charity Action on Smoking and Health, added: “In Britain, you can check on the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) website whether the product you’re using has been notified and can be legally sold”.

Next shoppers will want to know which product is best for them in terms of helping them quit. Everyone in the industry agrees that there is a different vape option that will suit different types of users, but closed systems seem like a good place to start.

Described as an option for “absolute beginners” by Doug Mutter, founder of vape store chain VPZ, closed systems use pods or cartridges instead of e-liquids. It means shoppers can buy a device, put in a cartridge and go. It’s a simplicity which all the major manufacturers – Juul, Myblu, Logic Compact and others – are all keen to mention and it’s also been suggested that this quick method of topping up is closer to the immediate experience of buying cigarettes and lighting up as soon as you leave the store.

Though not a vape, the heat-not-burn system IQOS also provides a cigarette-like experience using treated tobacco that is delivered without the tar and smoke that makes traditional cigarettes so deadly.

But there are other benefits besides health which might help convince your VApril shopper to make the jump.

There is the lower cost which promises savings for customers of at least a half (and often much more). There are a number of online calculators smokers can use to find out how much they could save such as e-cigreviewsite.co.uk and puffaway.co.uk.

An additional benefit which is perhaps under appreciated for a country with such unpredictable weather is the fact that vaping isn’t covered by the smoking ban and can end the regular trips into the cold for a ciggie. Many chains – Starbucks, KFC and Wetherspoons – have banned their use but smaller, independent businesses tend to be less strict.

You might be giving your customers a great reason to use their local pub.

So, there you have it – there’s loads of reasons why smokers should be moving over to e-cigarettes and VApril gives you a whole month to convince them. Whether you run a promotion, use themed-PoS or simply use it as an excuse to chat to your regular customers, VApril is a great opportunity to help your customers quit and, maybe just, save their lives.


Top 10 facts for your customers

  1. Vaping is at least 95% healthier than smoking (Public Health England)
  2. The smoking ban does not apply to vaping and many pubs and restaurants are “vape friendly”.
  3. Vaping costs can be as low as £270 per year for a heavy smoker – compared to nearly £4,000 on tobacco (vapemate.co.uk)
  4. £3.6m Britons in the UK vape
  5. Nearly 490,000 hospital admissions annually attributable to smoking-related conditions (NHS)
  6. The NHS spends £2.6bn on smoking-related illnesses each year (Gov.uk)
  7. Lung capacity improves by up to 10% nine months after quitting smoking (NHS)
  8. Half of smokers die early (NHS)
  9. A smoker who turns to vaping saves £74,000 (Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology)
  10. Vaping helps 20,000 people quit smoking every year (PHE)



Vapril Action Plan: Nick Geens, Head of Logic and Reduced Risk Products, JTI UK

  • Retailers must be educated and aware of recent developments, understand the needs of different vapers, and possess an in-depth knowledge of the various devices, liquids, and flavours available.
  • To fully profit from the category, staff must make sure they are comfortable passing on recommendations. As vaping becomes more commonplace in the UK, more customers will turn to their local shops for advice and guidance on the category.
  • To better understand the category and maximise sales, retailers should monitor EPoS data, stock the best sellers in their area and take advantage of educational tools such as JTIAdvance.co.uk. It offers advice, including the latest trends, legislation and NPD.


Vapril Action Plan John Patterson – sales director, Juul

  • If retailers get behind VApril, it can act as a springboard to increase not only sales and margin, but ultimately help many of their customers switch away from tobacco, which is still the biggest single cause of preventable deaths in the UK.
  • VApril presents retailers with an ideal opportunity to educate smokers around vaping. With the menthol ban on cigarettes coming into force on 20 May, it also provides an early opportunity to initiate a dialogue, informing smokers and showcasing the available alternatives.
  • Tobacco is a key category for retailers but sales are in significant decline. Vape sales on the other hand continue to grow with independents enjoying a 28.8% value increase year on year. There are now 3.6 million regular vapers in the UK with more adult smokers entering the vaping category.


What the experts say

 It’s not just the vape industry that thinks e-cigarettes are the way to go for smokers looking to quit. These organisations agree too:

Cancer Research UK

There is growing evidence to show that e-cigarettes can help people cut down or stop smoking. A study suggested that e-cigarettes may have contributed to an additional 50,000 long-term ex-smokers in England in 2017. A study in 2014 demonstrated that those who made quit attempts with e-cigarettes and no other support were around 60% more successful than those who used no aid. In contrast, the same study found that those who use over the counter NRT (nicotine replacement therapies) with no support are no more likely to quit than those who go cold turkey.

Public Health England

E-cigarettes are currently the most popular stop-smoking aid in England, with an estimated 2.5 million users. Over half (51%) have stopped smoking completely and of the 45% who still smoke, half say that they are vaping in order to stop smoking. The number who have quit both smoking and quit vaping has reached 770,000. Based on an assessment of the available international peer-reviewed evidence, PHE and the Royal College of Physicians estimate the risk reduction to be at least 95%.