E-cigarette sales rise 500pc as smokers try to kick habit
SALES of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) have soared by nearly 500pc in the last year, while sales of normal cigarettes have fallen by 4pc.
Thousands of smokers will attempt to kick the habit on National No Smoking Day today, as ASH Ireland warned the typical smoker can spend €3,500 a year on a 20-a-day habit or €200,000 over the course of a lifetime.
But new figures obtained by the Irish Independent show a huge move towards e-cigarettes, which deliver a nicotine hit without the tar and cancer-causing chemicals of conventional cigarettes.
Data from market analysts Nielsen Total Scantrack show e-cigarette sales rose 478pc in 2013, while cigarette sales fell by 3.9pc to €1.06bn.
Sales of e-cigarettes rose to €7.36m at supermarkets, convenience stores and garage forecourts, which means they are still a fairly small but fast-growing sector.
The data does not include online sales.
Meanwhile, sales of tobacco and sundries fell by 1.2pc to €1.2bn in the 12 months to the end of December 2013, Nielsen said.
Many smokers have taken up "vaping" e-cigarettes to help them cut down or eventually quit smoking.
And health and consumer bodies here and in the EU have been taken aback by the sudden surge in popularity of e-cigarettes and the Department of Health has been examining how to regulate them.
ASH Ireland said that as many smokers would attempt to quit today, it was worth highlighting the financial as well as the health cost.
"The 20-a-day smoker will spend roughly €3,500 annually on cigarettes.
"Much of this cost is taxes and the remainder enhances the profits of the tobacco industry," said ASH Ireland chairman Dr Ross Morgan.
More than 5,000 people a year die in Ireland as a result of smoking.