The UK’s biggest vaping retailer has attacked Government cuts to smoking support services, and said it is investing to help address the issue.
VPZ said it is set to launch a new support service in its stores to help smokers turn from cigarettes for good, amid the reduction in available support.
Bosses at the retailer, which has 135 stores across the country, have criticised reductions in public health spending which they believe have made it “more difficult” for smokers to quit.
“Our customer engagement tells us that most smokers want to quit,” said Doug Mutter, director at VPZ.
“Sadly, the huge cuts in public health spending is currently failing smokers throughout the country and they are being denied the vital help that can truly transform their health and wellbeing.”
A recent report from Action on Smoking and Health and Cancer Research UK found that 44% of local authorities no longer have a specialist stop smoking service for smokers in their area.
The annual report also found that support for smokers and funding for other measures to promote quit attempts has fallen by £41.3 million, around 30%, since 2014.
VPZ said that it believes using vaping to wean smokers off cigarettes can “help tackle the problem”, however questions still remain over the impact of vaping on users’ health.
Peer-reviewed research regarding vaping still remains scarce and recent research by Queen Mary University professor Jonathan Griggs has suggested it could up the risks of pneumonia.
Critics have also said that moving smokers from cigarettes onto vaping products will fail to tackle their long-term addiction problems.
However, Public Health England recently estimated could be at least 95% less than harmful than traditional smoking.
VPZ’s new support service will allow smokers to use carbon monoxide and lung-testing monitors to help analyse the extent of breathing problems.
It said staff will also be equipped to provide support and educational advice, adding that smokers do not need to buy vaping products to access the support.
Mr Mutter added: “At a time when people across the country are having less access to stop smoking services, we are investing so we can help tackle this problem and demonstrate our commitment to improving the health of the nation.
“Vaping is already proving to be a key weapon in the UK’s stop smoking strategy and a radical rethink is required by Government if the country is to meet its 2030 target of becoming smoke-free.
“With this long-term ambition in mind we have decided to take positive action and establish our own support service throughout our growing store network with an offer that allows every smoker to try vaping.”