Mark Benson, SEO and social media marketing manager for OKCigs.co.uk, on how better understanding of electronic cigarettes is benefiting bars
While bars, pubs and clubs across the UK continue to provide smoking areas for those who wish to indulge in tobacco cigarettes, there is a new phenomenon sweeping across the country. Electronic cigarettes have been very much in the news of late and while many people automatically assume they are relatively new, they have actually been around in some shape or form since the 1960s.
The electronic cigarette we see today has its foundations in 2001 and has certainly instigated a major shift in smoking habits across the UK. Did you know that it is perfectly legal to smoke electronic cigarettes in public places? Did you know that no health issues have been directly associated with electronic cigarettes?
In many ways the electronic cigarette industry is suffering from the same stigma as tobacco cigarettes even though the product and the substances present in electronic cigarettes are very different to your traditional tobacco counterpart.
Gone are the 4,000-plus toxins which have been linked to an array of health issues. The subject of secondary smoking is non-existent but still many people see electronic cigarettes as socially unacceptable. However, the tide is starting to turn and many pubs and clubs across the UK are openly promoting electronic cigarettes as an alternative to tobacco products, and an array of promotions and advertising campaigns are now underway.
As a means of educating the wider public about the laws covering electronic cigarettes, health issues and secondary smoking, vapour parties in bars and pubs are becoming extremely popular. The fact that the modern-day electronic cigarette mimics the traditional tobacco cigarette in shape, size and weight has the potential to give customers the experience of smoking a tobacco cigarette without the potential health issues.
Only a few months ago the idea of promoting electronic cigarettes in bars, pubs and clubs would have been frowned upon. The idea of educational posters on the subject of electronic cigarettes and the legal issues surrounding smoking in public would likely have been ignored by customers.
However, the situation has changed dramatically and it is now becoming more socially acceptable to smoke electronic cigarettes in public and, in many ways, word of mouth is fuelling growth in this new and exciting field.
Retailing electronic cigarettes on the premises
If you were to read the mass media you might get the impression that electronic cigarettes have no regulations whatsoever and it is in many ways a “Wild West” market. The fact is that there are regulations with regard to electronic cigarettes, who can buy them, manufacturing standards and indeed advertising guidelines. Many electronic cigarette retailers have been demonised by the worldwide mass media but no responsible retailer, licensee or nightclub owner wants to see these devices fall into the hands of minors.
For many tobacco cigarette smokers there is now the opportunity to switch to electronic cigarettes and avoid the howling wind and rain, snowstorms and freezing cold weather which many have to endure for their nicotine hit.
While there have been instances of arguments among customers who don’t know about electronic cigarettes, in many ways this perfectly illustrates the need to educate the wider public on electronic cigarettes, exactly what they are and why perhaps issues such as secondary smoking are no longer a problem.
Socially acceptable smoking is back
Bars, pubs and clubs up and down the UK are businesses and the longer your customers remain on your premises the better. The opportunity and the ability to not only offer electronic smokers a more socially comfortable environment in which to smoke their cigarettes but also acquire them on the premises can only be good for business.
The amount of people who enjoy a cigarette while out socialising with friends is enormous and, despite the various restrictions and barriers placed in front of tobacco cigarette smokers, there is now a feasible and an enjoyable alternative.
We may at some stage see new regulations covering the retail and manufacturing of electronic cigarettes, although the European Parliament recently decided against further restrictions, but even the most ardent of opponents concede that electronic cigarettes should not be classed in the same health risk category as tobacco cigarettes.
Bars, pubs and clubs up and down the UK now have the opportunity to put back that piece of the socialising jigsaw which was taken away when the government introduced the smoking ban. Advertising, promotion and more general visibility of electronic cigarettes in prominent social hotspots are not only good for the industry but extremely positive for pubs, bars and clubs.