ATHRA supports the establishment of new vape shop organisation
Posted on November 27, 2019
ATHRA welcomes the launch today of the Australian Retail Vaping Industry Association (ARVIA) which will support Australia’s vape shops. Vape shops are the modern-day smoking clinics which provide a valuable public health service at no cost to the government.
There are currently up to 200 specialised bricks and mortar vape shops in Australia and numerous online-only providers. The industry is growing rapidly and there are now over 27,000 vape shops globally. Shops sell vaping devices and spare parts and nicotine-free e-liquids. Increasingly tobacconists are also selling vaping products and supplies. A list of Aussie vape shops is available here.
Can vape shops help you quit?
Quitting can be very difficult. For smokers who are unable to quit with conventional treatments, vaping is an effective quitting aid. A recent clinical trial in the UK found that vaping was twice as effective as using nicotine replacement therapy (nicotine patch and gum or lozenge).
However, vaping can be overwhelming at first for new users. There is a vast range of vaping devices and selecting the right one and learning how to use it can be challenging.
Most vape shops are staffed by former smokers who vape and can provide expert, personalised advice for new users. Staff can help you select the right product and tell you how to use it correctly. Trained staff can also advise on battery safety and maintenance issues such changing coils. Most shops also allow customers to test vaping liquids to find ones they like before purchase.
Importantly, staff can support vapers through the quitting journey over the long-term. Many quitters do not achieve long-term abstinence with their first device. The process may involve trying different devices and liquids over time until you find the product that works best for you.
Shop staff can also assist with troubleshooting issues such as leaking and spitting. There is a learning curve to become a proficient vaper and face-to-face support is invaluable.
The research available so far shows that vape shop support can help smokers quit. A study in Italy found that 40% of adult smokers visiting a vape shop for the first time had quit smoking 12 months later. Another 25% had reduced their smoking level. Another study in the US sampled 100 vape shop customers found that 62% of customers had quit smoking completely, confirmed by a breath test.
Vape shops also provide a social and support network, which some vapers find helpful. There are opportunities to meet and socialise with other vapers. Some vapers go on to enjoy vaping as a hobby.
The vape industry is unique in the retail area. Shop owners and staff are passionate about vaping and want to share their knowledge with their customers.
Australia’s neglect of quitting services
Vape shops help to fill an important gap in our health care system which provides very little support for Australia’s three million smokers. There is only a handful of smoking clinics nationally and Quitline is only used by a very small number of smokers each year. Very little training in smoking cessation is provided for health professionals. Time pressures and other priorities result in smoking often being neglected at doctor and pharmacy visits.
Furthermore, many smokers do not see their smoking as a medical problem in need of ‘treatment’. Many see smoking as a lifestyle or personal issue, with vaping as another consumer product. For these smokers, the informal, non-medical vape shop setting may be preferable to a doctor’s surgery.
How ARVIA can help
As an industry organisation, ARVIA can help to further improve and organise the vaping industry. ATHRA would like to see ARVIA lead the industry on self-regulation. This could include setting standards for the quality and safety of products, guidelines for reducing access of products for young people and supporting research in the area.
Another possible benefit of ARVIA is to assist with training of staff. Shop staff have valuable personal experience but could be more effective if trained in smoking cessation skills. A successful training program is available in France.
ARVIA has the potential to make a good retail sector even better and in the process it will save thousands of lives.
Posted by Colin Mendelsohn, firstname.lastname@example.org