Ireland’s e-cigarette industry is rocketing, with sales of vaping products surging by almost 500% last year and expected to exceed €10m for the first time by the end of this year.
Industry observers said more than 100 specialist e-cigarette shops have opened up across the country in the past two years to cater for the estimated 250,000 Irish vapers.
Such is the growth in the popularity of the devices, which use battery-powered cartridges to produce a nicotine-laced flavour, that a vaping festival is taking place in Dublin today.
Kenneth Killeen, organiser of the ‘Vapefest’ at the Lucan Spa Hotel, said: “We’ve 31 vendors attending and there will be workshops there to educate people about safety, and even a scientist who will talk about the chemistry behind mixing e-liquids.
“Vaping was invented in China in 2003, but it’s only in the past couple of years that it’s really taken off in Ireland.
“There’s now a wide range of products available and we’re at a stage where there are many second and third generation vapers here. It’s a rapidly evolving industry, as anything to do with technology moves very quickly.”
Although the jury is still out on the long-term health effects of e-cigarettes, the World Health Organisation has called for stiff regulation, including bans on indoor use and sales to minors.
As they are relatively new products, there is a lack of long-term scientific evidence on their safety.
Some experts fear they could lead to nicotine addiction and be a gateway to tobacco smoking, while others maintain they have huge potential to help millions of smokers around the world to quit their deadly habit.
Advertisements for the controversial products have already appeared on TV3 and the first commercial showing a woman using an e-cigarette was aired on British TV earlier this week.
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