Electronic cigarette brand, VIP, open their first ‘vaping’ bar in Stratford’s Westfield centre today.
The first of its kind in the country, the bar features a mixing area where the V.I.P mixologists can create weird and wonderful flavours for people to try and buy. Along side the bar is a consultation area where people can talk through the different packages on offer with a VIP member of staff.
“We want the experience to be as personal as possible,” VIP commercial director, Louise Stamper explained.
“There are, at last count, 260 e-cigarette companies in the world, out of these I’d say there are 20 serious top brands, so we really need to differentiate ourselves from the competition.”
E-cigarettes have risen to provenance in the last two years with stalls selling the devices, springing up in shopping centres across the company.
The Stop-tober campaign being credited with some of this rise, with many people looking for an alternative to smoking, ‘vaping’ is looking like a more and more attractive option.
At the same time as its opening its flagship store, VIP’s latest TV advert is also drawing controversy.
The ad which features a woman seductively blowing what looks like smoke at the camera, aired during Monday nights episode of ITV new show Granchester.
One viewer wrote on twitter: “Think that VIP e-cigarette advert is just wrong in so many ways.
This shouldn’t be allowed it makes addiction look sexy!”
The advert comes after a change in the advertising rules regarding e-cigarettes, previously the devices were not allowed to be seen and this is the first time one has been used on TV.
It’s unclear what effect ‘vaping’ will have on a persons health, it is perceived as a safer alternative to smoking and while the toxic elements aren’t so prevalent they actually have more nicotine.
“Nicotine free options are available but our target audience is smokers so these people will want that nicotine hit.” Said Stamper.
Another problem e-cigarettes have had in the past year is that some devices appear to spontaneously combust.
Footage emerged earlier this year of a bar lady being showered with sparks when she plugged a customers E-cigarette into an iPad charger, over powering the device.
“This is only a problem with cheap Chinese devices and people not using the correct charger. If you use a VIP e-cig with a VIP charger you will never have a problem,” Stamper explained
“The problems only come when people start using them with other USB charges.”
The company which was recently bought by US e-cig giant, Victory, has its sights on rapid expansion within the next year and have a plan in place to open approximately 100 stores and stalls across the UK before the end of 2015.
Stamper believes this expansion is vital: “The majority of our sales are online so we feel that getting out on the high street will be a great way for us to expand our sales and our audience.”