National retailer opens first Norfolk store
- Credit: Ian Burt
A national retailer with more than 130 stores has opened its first branch in the county.
VPZ has invested £50,000 to open a new shop on Dereham High Street, creating five new jobs in the process.
The UK's largest vaping retailer, which also specialises in alternative tobacco products, now has 132 stores across the country and is pressing ahead with plans to treble its store footprint to 300 by 2021.
At the official opening of the new branch on Friday, August 9 - attended by Phillip Duigan from Dereham Town Council - VPZ director Doug Mutter emphasised the company's commitment to promoting the health benefits of ditching cigarettes.
"Each new store opening helps us to achieve a greater reach, providing us with a platform to engage and educate even more smokers on the benefits of switching to vaping," said Mr Mutter.
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"We believe it's important to continue supporting our customers on their journey to becoming cigarette-free.
"Consumer education is crucial too and our knowledgeable staff are always available with advice that helps make it easy for smokers to make the switch and give up cigarettes once and for all."
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Despite Public Health England suggesting vaping is 95pc less harmful than smoking traditional cigarettes, Cancer Research UK estimates there are currently 9.4m smokers who could still switch to vaping.
Latest figures show around two million people have already switched, with another 500,000 in the process of making the change.
As thousands reassess their lifestyles, Mr Mutter said the shift represents a chance to keep the nation's struggling high streets alive and adapt to an ever-changing retail environment.
"Vaping represents a huge public health opportunity," added Mr Mutter. "The market will continue to grow as increasing numbers of smokers recognise its effectiveness in helping people to quit.
"At a time when many businesses are exiting high streets across the country, we are committed to creating jobs and investing in communities throughout the UK like we are doing in Dereham.
"We are excited to be opening the doors of our new VPZ store in Dereham as part of our growth plans across the UK."