A VAPING cafe — thought to be one of the first in the country — has opened in Bolton.
The Flavour Vapour cafe in Manchester Road, Burnden, sells e-cigarrettes alongside hot and cold drinks and cakes.
The opening follows the launch of the country’s first e-cigarette cafe which opened in the trendy London district of Shoreditch last month.
Owner Ian Hopkinson, aged 40, had run an e-cigarette shop at the premises, since October 2012, but recently decided to expand his business into a cafe.
He said: “What we want to do is to provide people with a relaxed atmosphere where they can freely use e-cigarettes and enjoy a coffee — but people who don’t smoke e-cigs are more than welcome here too.”
Smoking e-cigarettes — or vaping — is generally permitted in pubs and restaurants, but the Royal Bolton Hospital and Bolton Council have both banned staff from using e-cigs inside.
Bolton South East MP Yasmin Qureshi attended the launch day yesterday.
She said: “I think the e-business is great because smoking causes so many illnesses, these products are also cheaper but the main benefits are for health — I know someone who was a chain smoker and switched to e-cigarettes and it really worked.
“The cafe is a great idea. It’s nice for people to be able to sit here comfortably and socialise — I think we could see more of them in Bolton.”
There are a number of shops selling the electronic products in Bolton, but the Flavour Vapour cafe is the first cafe dedicated to the product.
It sells e-cig start-up kits, chargers and accessories, as well as a huge variety of flavoured refills, including Champagne, blueberry, mango and mojito.
Mr Hopkinson, who himself switched from smoking normal cigarettes to their electronic alternatives three years ago, believes there is a lack of education on the subject.
He added: “I think the national media can often muddle things up when it comes to e-cigs. I have been using them for three years and have had no problems.
“People like to say it is a gateway to normal smoking but I have never experienced that — I only know of people going the other way.”
The cafe also says it will not sell its products to people who do not already smoke.
Mr Hopkinson added: “We are pitching this as an alternative to smoking — we don’t want to encourage people to become addicted to nicotine if they aren’t already — we also won’t sell to under 18s.”
Director of public health Wendy Meredith said the council could not comment on individual businesses.
She added: “While it is likely that e-cigarettes are considerably less damaging to health than smoking tobacco, they cannot currently be recommended as part of the clinical management for stopping smoking.
“This is because they are unregulated and there is insufficient evidence as to whether they are safe, effective or made to a consistent standard of quality.”
What do you think?
Jack Williams, aged 18, from Tonge Moor
“I started smoking cigarettes when I was about 14 and switched to e-cigs about a year ago.
“The cost is probably the biggest thing for me. I was spending £3.50 a day and now its just £5 a week, plus I feel healthier.
“I think the cafe is a great idea. It’s in a top location and it’s really good to have a social cafe where people can have a coffee and a vape.”
George Burford, aged 22, from Darcy Lever
“I also smoked since 14 and switched to e-cigs last year — I can now breathe a lot better and feel good when I do exercise.
“I will definitely be a regular customer here because I can come and have a vape and chat with my mates. It is ideal.”