There is much talk of further measures to control the outbreak of Coronavirus, but closure of vape shops should on no account be considered.

We are living through extraordinary times, with restrictions on personal freedoms – understandably - not seen since the second world war. It is essential that all of us observe the advice of the government, but the NNA hopes that if a rumoured ‘lockdown’ were to happen, vape shops would be excluded on public health grounds.

We have seen other countries such as France and Italy recognise this by exempting premises supplying vaping equipment and liquids from their general order for businesses to close. They have acted wisely, and we would urge the UK government to follow their lead.

These are very stressful times and access to safer nicotine products must be maintained. Supermarkets do sell some vaping products, and - while they are very helpful to many former smokers - they are expensive, with little variety, and do not cater for a large sector of society. Vaping has made a large contribution to the UK’s public health by attracting smokers away from combustible tobacco, and furthermore preventing relapse. It is important that this continues.

Vape shops are typically low key and do not attract crowds, so there are sensible social distancing measures which can easily be taken to ensure that vapers can continue to access the products they have found so useful in reducing risks to their health. There are online options for purchasing vape products, but it would be irresponsible to deny those who are not ‘net savvy’ the services that a bricks and mortar outlet gives them.

The NNA represents all current and future consumers of safer nicotine products, not industry, but we agree with trade bodies IBVTA and UKVIA who have both indicated that vape shops are a key resource and should remain open. The last thing we need during a public health crisis is to encourage another by closing off reduced risk options and leading many to return to smoking widely accessible tobacco.

We hope all our supporters stay safe during this difficult time and that availability of the supplies you need are considered as essential by government as we all know they are.