An estimated 3.2 million people in Britain are now users of e-cigarettes, or vapes, compared with around 7.4 million who smoke tobacco cigarettes, according to data from a survey conducted by an anti-smoking charity.
Among those who vape, more than half are people who have switched to electronic cigarettes after quitting tobacco, the survey by Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) found, and 40 percent are tobacco smokers trying to quit.
Last year a summary published by Public Health England said it “believes there is compelling evidence that e-cigarettes be made available to NHS patients.” Recently two vaping shops have opened in NHS hospitals in West Midlands, offering staff, patients and visitors an alternative following a site-wide smoking ban.
Experts at PHE now say vaping is around 95 percent less harmful than smoking tobacco cigarettes, and health authorities in Britain foresee substantial public health benefits if smokers are able to switch.
With this is the backdrop, The Asian Media Group, publishers of Pharmacy Business, hosted the first-ever Vape Business Conference & Awards in July at the Millennium Gloucester Hotel, Kensington in central London.
The awards celebrated the achievements of pharmacists, retailers, wholesalers and suppliers in the dynamic and growing vaping category.
Pharmacists are in a unique position to help clear the smoke. As healthcare professionals they are ideally placed to initiate behaviour chance among patients.
As outlined in ASH’s report ‘A Changing Landscape’, services should encourage smokers to use e-cigarette as a stop smoking aid.
Pharmacists have the chance to influence smokers when conducting medicines use reviews or when they get a chance to advice patients when dispensing medicines.
Jay Parmar, owner of Churchill’s Pharmacy in Chiswick, London won the very first Vape Business Pharmacy award.
After winning the award, Parmar said: “Growth has slowed down compared to previous years as there has been competition in this market, but our sales are always on the increase. Being pharmacy-based we are able to provide smoking cessation programmes to patients and this gives us an opportunity to recommend Vapes along NRT products. We have helped a number of people to give up smoking and make their lives healthier.”
Explaining why it chose Churchill’s Pharmacy as a worthy winner, the Judges panel said:
“This pharmacy… has boldly embraced the development of vaping products, believing in the health benefits and selling them alongside traditional smoking cessation products, helping many smokers to switch while offering a professional service and advice that helps this winner to stand up to intense local competition in the vape market from other retail channels.”
Amrit Singh Pahal of Nisa Local High Heath won the top award, Vape Business of the Year – Retail.
He commented: “I am honoured to have won. I have researched the market. I have done my bit. I am honoured to be recognised for it. I appreciate the recognition. I keep on going, keep on persevering. I have got to implement my strategy, get the vaping off the ground and get that vape customer back to the convenience sector.
“I don’t think I did anything specific to deserve this award. I was just concentrating on what I was doing and trying to get the most I could get out of it.
“The other nominees also did really well, I am honoured to be in the same category as those guys. Those guys are inspirational and I have learned a lot by meeting them today.
“I feel I have gained a lot of knowledge from this conference. I have gained a lot in networking experience which will help me to grow. If I have gained then I know other people have gained. I have gained contacts. A lot of other people are very enthusiastic about learning and I want to grow with them.”
Earlier in the day, during the Vape Business Conference, Sandy Chadha, CEO of Supreme Imports Ltd said in the future vaping will move from specialist shops to convenience stores, multiples and online.
Amrit Singh revealed how he is using iPads instore so that consumers can choose their product on the iPad and the till staff will automatically know which product they need. Andrew Miller, head of Next Generation Product Sales at blu said vape specialist shops have consolidated as much in two years as convenience stores did in 20 years, with the big chains buying the small stores.
This article also appears in the August issue of Pharmacy Business.