Smoke No Smoke, whose UK flagship store is based in Regent Street, opened a new branch in Coventry last month following an appearance on Channel 4 News.
And during ‘Stoptober’, an NHS initiative to encourage smokers to give up, the store recruited 87 new customers on top of normal monthly growth.
Explaining the company’s success, managing director Jim Lacey said: “There isn’t a product which simulates smoking in the way that these products do.”
‘E-cigarettes’ are battery-powered metal cylinders which produce a flavoured vapour with varying levels of nicotine.
“You pick it up, you put in your mouth, you inhale and exhale, you get what looks like smoke but it’s steam, and you get the actual throat sensation - the ‘hit’ - as if you’re smoking,” said Jim.
He added that his business has grown on word-of-mouth alone. He said: “We give customers the option to try different flavours, we work out the strength which meets their current intake of nicotine, and then we work on a programme where we reduce the nicotine as it suits them.”
Among the shop’s customers is engine builder Chris Ford, 61.
He said: “I’d been smoking for 50 years before I tried e-cigarettes. In the two and a half months since, I haven’t had a cigarette. And I’ve got a heck of alot more money in my pocket.”
After 20 years as a smoker, I was sceptical that anything could offer a satisfying alternative when I heard about e-cigarettes, writes Andy Morris.
My previous effort to quit was aided by nicotine gum, which mimics the sensation of eating a cigarette so faithfully that smoking one becomes the last thing on your mind. It didn’t last.
After being asked about my usual intake by the staff at Smoke No Smoke, I was offered a sample of a light tobacco-flavoured vapour. Doubting that I would receive the ‘throat hit’ that any smoker craves, I inhaled rather too hungrily.
After I had stopped coughing - evidence that this was, perhaps, pretty close to the real thing - I could immediately see what the fuss was about. And the realisation that I was legally ‘smoking’ (actually ‘vaping’) indoors in a public place filled me with a guilty glee.
Having perused the extensive menu (flavours range from whisky to tiramisu), I sampled a strawberry flavour and was struck by its authenticity. Was I actually smoking a fruit?!
So while I stubbornly refuse to give them up just yet, e-cigarettes offer the next best thing that I have experienced.