The UKVIA has written to the English, Scottish and Welsh governments to ask them to keep vape shops open during the Covid-19 pandemic and isolation periods.
It follows similar successful lobbying by Dr Riccardo Polosa in Italy.
Polosa wrote to the government asking them to consider keeping vape retailers open to prevent stressed former smokers from returning to tobacco.
Spain and Switzerland have also opted to keep their stores open.
UKVIA’s letter to the Welsh government reads:
“Our simple ask of you is to ensure that vape shops in towns and rural areas across Wales stay open during the crisis and would urge you and your colleagues to look at the example of Italy.
“Dr Riccardo Polosa, a world renowned scientist and researcher on vaping and tobacco harm reduction and founder of the Centre of Excellence for the Acceleration of Harm Reduction, successfully argued that due to the stress caused by the Coronavirus, with the closure of vape shops vapers were highly likely to go back to smoking cigarettes to maintain their nicotine needs.
“This could be dangerous from a public health perspective and could heighten the risk of exposure of tobacco smoke to bystanders during the crisis, including families and children. This could also place a further burden on an already overstretched health system.”
Edinburgh vaping group VPZ is trialling a scheme could enable stores to continue to operate despite a government-ordered total lockdown.
Measures include local deliveries for people, especially those who may not be able to access the VPZ website.
Customers can now call the store to place an order and pay over the phone in addition to the services offered online.
The business has removed all tester and sampling devices, introduced a customer limit within stores and placed goods behind counters to enable staff to maintain a safe distance.
Doug Mutter, director of manufacturing and compliance at VPZ, said:
“These measures are really designed for helping the most vulnerable groups in our society.
“We have trialled a number of options including same-day delivery and order by phone at specifically selected stores.
“These have been found to be helpful and the service well received by customers, which moving forward may well be an option for a number of our stores across the UK.”