The UK’s first e-cigarette bar opened in Shoreditch this week. The pop-up establishment in Great Eastern Street will only be around for two and a half weeks, before closing its doors to the public.
Sponsored by e-cigarette maker Vype, visitors to #vypesocial will be able to puff away on their e-cigarettes in a fully-licensed bar and attend speed-dating, comedy and hip hop karaoke.
And yet little is known of the side-effects of e-cigarettes, which vaporise liquid nicotine. Smoking is falling in most rich countries, but “vaping” is on the up. The British Medical Association wants them banned, but it is thought that more than a million people now used e-cigarettes in the UK alone. Goldman Sachs has classified the e-cigarette among its eight most disruptive technologies and the majority of traditional tobacco firms have invested in electronic product development or invested in companies in the space.
The debate around their existence leaves medical experts divided. For some, they could save the lives of a troop of addicted smokers, but for others the lack of product research and regulation leaves them cold. The glamorisation of cigarettes is also a major concern, with protestors worried that those who don’t light up will be drawn to e-cigarettes and their perceived harmlessness.
With e-cigarette sales doubling annually for the last four years and an estimated 7 million users across Europe, whatever one’s view, one thing is for sure; the longevity of e-cigarettes will far exceed that of the Shoreditch pop up.