Vaping on the high street
The growing community of vapers both in Ireland and worldwide isn’t just online and in niche areas. Vaping has become part of high street culture in a number of cities, especially London and Paris.
It makes sense: The face of a city’s high street is constantly evolving, not just to reflect trends in clothing, but also to show changes in attitude and lifestyle. (That’s why you don’t see as many record shops as you used to, for instance.)
Here we’ll talk about public vaping establishments in the UK, France and Ireland.
Let’s start with the trendy boroughs of London…
“We get the bankers on one side and the hipsters on the other,” says Igor Kapovsky, the manager of a “vaping store”, which is one of hundreds to have opened across the UK in the past six months.
The Financial Times piece that interviewed Kapovsky talks about vaping as part of the changing face of the high streets. It describes one outlet as a “coffee shop-cum-vape store [which] is a mixture of middlemen in snug, fitted suits and 20-something blokes in plaid shirts”.
The Guardian, meanwhile, reports of the first bona-fide vaping coffee shop in the super-chic Shoreditch. One of its two French owners, Jonathan Cadeilhan, told the paper: “In France, it’s a major market already – there are maybe more than a thousand shops in France and about 300 in Paris,” he said. “Here in London, it’s a young market: you see people here with disposable cigarettes and they will switch to electronic cigarettes. In five years’ time, there will be no more tobacco.”
Indeed, vaping stores have grown by over 50% in the past year in the UK to just under 600 units.
In Kent, 24-year-old entrepreneur Sean Donnellan recently opened a vaping cafe on the high street. He was initially inspired by his mother; he convinced her to switch to vaping when her traditional cigarette habit reached 30 a day. “I didn’t want it tucked away down some back street”, he told a local paper. “There’s nothing to be ashamed of – why not promote it?”
Vaping is certainly growing in profile, having moved from a specialty product to high street shopping and socialising.
Closer to home, there are currently 42 VIP stockists in Ireland, but few public places to vape. Some semi-state bodies have banned vaping (including on public transport), but there are still nowhere near the restrictions placed on traditional cigarettes.
We have yet to see a vaping cafe in this country, though stockists are springing up from coast to coast. One vaping lounge owner and proprietor, Paul O’Shea, told the Irish Independent: “I’d been smoking for 28 years and I tried everything to quit – patches, hypnotherapy, gum, willpower – which I was very bad at, but I just couldn’t stop.”
The paper reports: “He hasn’t smoked a cigarette in two-and-a-half years since switching to electronic ones, but said he still enjoys the smoking sensation they deliver…Paul was so impressed that he opened a specialist shop…selling electronic cigarettes in Bray, Co Wicklow, last year. He said that his typical customer is in their 40s who wants to quit or has serious health issues, but has failed with conventional methods – with some doctors now referring patients to him.”
Vaping in a pub or a cafe is theoretically possible in Ireland: It’s up to the discretion of the establishment itself. Whether we’ll follow the example of the UK and France remains to be seen, but with vaping product sales on the ascent in Ireland (while traditional cigarettes are declining), it might just be a matter of time…
London Heathrow noticed the rise in e-Cigarettes and decided it was time to open the first vape lounge where passengers can enjoy e-cigarettes in the International Departures Lounge of Terminal 4.
According to the founders of the Heathrow vaping lounge:
“We hope our vaping zone will offer an environment to satisfy their cravings”
With more vapers than ever, Heathrow’s decision to open a vaping lounge was a popular one. In a recent survey conducted by Skyscanner, 57% of travelers wouldn’t object to other airports following suit and licensing similar vaping zones. 40% of travelers were in favour of vaping zones onboard the actual aircraft and 64% of smokers said they would consider using them on board a flight if they were available. Check out our blog post on travelling with e-cigarettes for more information on airport vaping.
With the number of Irish vapers increasingly rapidly, it won’t be long before Ireland follows suit with the opening of vaping café’s and lounges. Watch this space! What do you think of vaping cafe’s and lounges?