Lifelong smokers in the United Kingdom are increasingly turning to electronic cigarettes to ditch the deadly habit, and largely credit vape shops for putting them on the path to quitting.
The Vapestore, part of a franchise chain located in the town of Dorking, drew criticism from residents when it opened in March in the town’s famous shopping area of West Street. Decades-long smokers in the area, however, say that the store and its workers are helping them quit for the first time. Lorna Randall, a smoker of 32 years, said the store provided her with the knowledge and support needed to sustain her abstinence from combustible tobacco, reports Get Surrey.
For a longtime smoker, navigating the world of vaping can be daunting, and often keeps smokers from giving the devices a try. Randall said the vape shop workers walked her through the various devices and other products, as well as how to maintain them, which e-liquid to use, and what nicotine level to maintain.
“All along the way they have been like a little place for community support, showing me how to clean the kit, refilling it, helping to change my dose and have just made stopping smoking not be that difficult when it can be so tough,” Randall told Get Surrey. “I have been smoking for so long that there is no way I could quit smoking without their support and I was amazed that I even lasted two weeks at first.”
Vaping eliminates up to 95 percent of the risk associated with cigarettes because the majority of cancer-causing chemicals are released through combustion, according to Public Health England.
Workers at the store say they are selling a large volume of starter kits to new customers on a weekly basis, a sign that the products are most popular with smokers looking to quit. Brendan Goggin, the manager of Vapestore, says the goal is to help customers wean off cigarettes, and ultimately vaping devices as well.
“Vaping isn’t a replacement for smoking, it’s a way to get people off smoking and we are there to help and support,” Goggin, a former smoker who quit with a vape, told Get Surrey. “I get customers calling me up asking for advice. There are some people we see every couple of weeks and some that we used to see but don’t anymore, as they’ve stopped vaping as well and that’s the idea.”
The U.K.’s Department of Health released a policy paper on e-cigarettes July 18, backing the devices as useful tools to quit smoking and eliminate secondhand risks to the public. The department’s Five Year Tobacco Control plan aims to significantly slash the overall smoking rate, and argues that expanding public access to vaping will help achieve this goal.
Health officials in the country hope to bring the smoking rate down from 15.5 percent to 12 percent by the end of 2022. The report states that the government wants to “minimize the risk of harm” to the smoker and those around them by “maximizing the availability of safer alternatives to smoking.”
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