AN Irish-engineered and manufactured gas-powered tobacco vapouriser has become the hottest must-have accessory for America's dedicated marijuana smokers.
The "Iolite" vapouriser, designed by machine-tool manufacturer Oglesby & Butler of Carlow, is believed to have contributed significantly to the company's leap in earnings, with sales rising by more than 60 per cent to €11.5m last year.
Oglesby & Butler was once the smallest company on the Irish stock market before it was bought out by a consortium led by Tom and Kevin Anderson in 2010.
The vapouriser, which looks like a walkie-talkie, launched in the US in 2008. It is a device for smoking "dried tobacco" products -- but in the United States, where 16 states have legalised medical marijuana growth and sale, the device is selling like hotcakes.
The hand-held vapouriser has attracted massive online interest in the US and has featured in the HBO comedy series Bored to Death, starring Ted Danson and Jason Schwartzman. In the comedy, the two actors play characters who smoke considerable amounts of marijuana while getting into scrapes. The Iolite is mistaken for a walkie-talkie in one of the gags.
Jacqueline Oglesby of Oglesby & Butler said the company is exporting "99 per cent" of its products and 60 per cent are to the US market. Amazon is a direct seller of the Iolite and its successor, the WISPR (a more advanced and compact vapouriser).
She said that their product was "a new way to enjoy tobacco" and that their new version of the vapouriser had "gone down amazingly well" at the huge Consumer Electrical Show in Las Vegas in January. She said the company has 100 employees and all their products are "made completely in Ireland".