As vaping has become increasingly popular, e-cigarettes and e-liquids are now sold in various supermarkets and convenience stores, as well as dedicated vape shops. This gives vapers more freedom to stock up on supplies quickly and easily, reducing the likelihood of a smoking relapse.

Vaping products are displayed in contrasting locations in different stores with some being stocked on the counter top, some behind the counter with cigarettes and others with smoking cessation products. The last suggestion on the list has recently been unfairly criticised.

Vaping Criticism

One particular supermarket chain has been targeted and scrutinised for their positioning of vaping goods. Sainsbury’s was the store in question and the criticism was due to the grocery giant displaying e-cigarettes next to smoking cessation aids such as patches and gum.

As e-cigarettes are now recognised by many as the country’s most popular quitting aid, this would surely make perfect sense, wouldn’t it? Not according to MP Bob Blackman, chair of the Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health.

Mr Blackman said,

“It’s wrong to have them on open shelves … We don’t know enough about the long-term effects of electronic cigarette use. There may well be dangerous chemicals in the e-liquid.”

This perhaps misguided viewpoint from the politician comes despite Public Health England’s guidance which states ‘Vaping is 95% less harmful than smoking’. It also contradicts the guidance in the Tobacco Control Plan which suggests e-cigarettes should be sold in hospital shops.

Bob Blackman’s other concern was that the products would be accessible for young people. Under 18s are not allowed to buy vaping products and would be checked for ID by any reputable store. He also went on to suggest that this accessibility would give the impression that vaping products are harmless. It’s important to note that various other age prohibited items such as alcohol are not hidden away behind counters.

Moreover, the uptake of youth vaping in the UK has been deemed as negligible on a number of occasions. Experts have also debunked the gateway theory continuously over recent times. By prohibiting the open display of vaping products, policy makers would not only be making it more difficult for vapers to stock up on supplies, they would also be sending a negative message about e-cigarettes.

A mixed message

Unfortunately, e-cigarettes are often grouped under the same umbrella as cigarettes, when policies are created. By treating e-cigs the same as cigarettes, organisations can, perhaps unwittingly, send the message that vaping is just as bad for your health as smoking.

A spokesperson for Sainsbury’s believes that putting them next to cessation products however would help to send the right message. He said:

“Vaping products are for smokers looking for an alternative to cigarettes. A natural home for them is next to smoking cessation products.” 

Do you think vaping products should be allowed to be displayed on open shelves in shops? Let us know in the comments.