The increasing number of vape shops on British high streets may help reduce the number of smokers, new research suggests.
Vape shops can provide effective behavioural support to help smokers quit, the study found.
The study come after officials at Public Health England (PHE) urged smokers to try e-cigarettes to help them quit.
Earlier this week, PHE said that hospitals should sell the devices and that it hoped that they would soon be available as prescription items on the NHS.
Experts at the University of East Anglia conduct interviews with 40 people who switched to e-cigarettes to attempt to quit smoking.
Their study, published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, also saw researchers work with six shops in a range of locations to observe interactions between staff and customers.
Lead researcher Dr Emma Ward, from UEA’s Norwich Medical School, said: “At present there are no e-cigarettes licensed for medicinal use and vape shops are often the ‘frontline’ for cessation support.
“We found that vape shops provided effective behavioural support to help quitters stay smoke free.
“Shop assistants were really keen to understand customers’ smoking preferences and give tailored advice about the most appropriate products. And they were an ongoing point of contact for practical help.”
Commenting on the study, Martin Dockrell, tobacco lead at PHE, said: “Specialist vape shops have valuable expertise and product knowledge to offer smokers who want to quit with the help of an e-cigarette.
“We’ve seen some great examples of these retailers working in partnership with their local stop smoking service to offer smokers a wrap-around package, with tailored behavioural support and practical advice on choosing the right product and getting the best out of it.”
Estimates suggest there are 2.9 million vapers in Britain. The researchers said that there are around 2,000 vape shops in the UK and the industry is estimated to be worth over £600 million in the UK alone.