You may have seen your local town or city feature in the ‘top 10 unhealthiest high streets in the UK’ or visa versa. The Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) has published the 2018 report which sees Grimsby as having the unhealthiest high street.

The ranking system determines bad health by taking into consideration the number of ‘unhealthy’ outlets, which includes bookmakers, payday lenders and fast food restaurants. A healthy high street is determined by the number places such as libraries, pharmacies and leisure centres.

In 2018, a number of new outlets were added to the analysis, one of them being Vape shops, but how do they rank on the ‘Richter scale of health’?

Vape Shops are a healthy addition to the high street

The ‘Richter scale of health’ judges certain outlets on 4 areas: Healthy/healthier choices, social interaction, Access to services and advice, and mental wellbeing. These can be a positive or negative score and a total score is calculated on this basis.

It’s good news for vape shops as they received a positive score of 3. This is compared with a score of 7 for leisure centres and -4 for high cost credit outlets. The maximum score is 8 for the healthiest outlets and -8 for the unhealthiest. This therefore means that vape shops are seen as a healthy addition to the high street; a very encouraging position for the vaping industry.

The RSPH’s reasoning for the healthy ranking is explained in the report. It covers vaping’s backing from major public health organisations and explores e-cigarettes’ success as a smoking cessation tool. The gateway theory and the threat of re-normalisation of smoking are both rightly dismissed.

This decision is certainly a step in the right direction to help correct the misperception of vaping. The report states:

“As vape shops contribute heavily to the public profile of e-cigarettes, they are ideally placed to play a central role in their promotion towards smokers who want to quit but have not yet tried vaping.

This is important because, although it is by some distance the most popular quitting method, there remains much misunderstanding around the relative harms of vaping: only 17% of the public (and 25% of smokers) correctly believe that e-cigarettes are a lot less harmful than smoking.” 

recommendations

The report did explain that “more can be done” in terms of vape shops and their contribution to the high street. The RSPH gave three recommendations:

Vape shops to ensure all customers who smoke are aware of their local stop smoking service.

Facebook and Google to provide discounted advertising opportunities to local, independent health-promoting businesses.

Council to set differential rent classes for tenants based on how health-promoting their business offer is.

It’s great to see vaping noticed and progressive action being encouraged. The Independent British Vape Trade Association (IBVTA) has also welcomed the report and Chief Executive, Gillian Golden said:

‘’The high street vape shop is now firmly at the front line in getting smokers off smoking by switching them to vaping, so we warmly welcome the positive ranking that the RSPH places on vape shops in their report. We would also echo their calls for better supports for vape businesses from councils. However, strict advertising rules prevent the full promotion of vaping which could yield even better public health results, if only it were possible to utilise social media and other traditional advertising outlets.’’

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