Operators who stock e-cigarettes could boost takings and keep customers in their outlets longer
OPERATORS who stock e-cigarettes stand to boost profits and keep customers in their bars and clubs for longer.
That’s the view of Allan Barclay, of ecigs-scotland.com, who said his firm has been supplying “forward thinking publicans” with e-cigarette products and that these operators are already reaping the rewards.
“We are all in the business to ultimately drive profit and all the feedback from publicans that we supply to is that these are adding revenue into the till – not only by direct sales but also by keeping patrons inside the establishment which ultimately drives additional sales into the till,” he said.
Barclay highlighted the “high margins” that he said can be generated through e-cigarette sales.
“The profit margin on the sale of e-cig units and liquids is very considerable and this can become a valuable high profit source of income,” he added.
“The pubs that have done it correctly and really got behind it are really pleased with the additional income these are bringing in.”
When it comes to selling e-cigarette products, Emma Logan, co-founder of e-cigarette supplier JAC Vapour, advised publicans to “keep it simple”.
“Don’t over complicate your offering,” she said.
“Understand what you are selling – that is, how the device works, to aid the customer should they need help.”
As far as deciding when and where publicans allow customers to use e-cigarettes in their outlets, Logan believes education can go a long way in the decision making.
“What we need is proper education: working with bars and restaurants with support from public health organisations, government, electronic cigarette brands and electronic cigarette bodies to ensure that smokers, who can benefit the most from these products, are given the opportunity to do so without prejudice,” she said.
Publicans could also play a role in finding a solution that pleases both “vapers” (those who use e-cigarettes) and non-smokers, according to Logan
“It may be as simple a solution as having designated ‘vaping’ zones within each outlet, thus setting boundaries, and perhaps signs that say ‘as a courtesy to other patrons, please keep your vapour production to a minimum’,” she said.
Allan Barclay agreed that customers should be given the opportunity to use e-cigarettes in the on-trade, advising against confining users to the same areas designated for smokers.
“We do not advise that publicans should force vapers to use designated smoking areas,” said Barclay.
“The fundamental basic fact here is that no smoking is actually taking place – there is no combustion or smoke.
“We actively encourage the use of vaping units freely. We are not aware of any pubs, clubs, etc. that have set up designated vaping zones; we would watch that with interest and would look to support any publican in that.”
And although the Scottish Government has opened a consultation on regulations for e-cigarettes, including their use in enclosed public spaces, Barclay believes they are “here to stay”, adding that any question of a ban “stems from a position of ignorance about what these products are and do”.
“The problem lies with the brands of e-cigarette that look exactly like a cigarette with the exception of the blue light at the end – but within the e-cig world people have been ditching these in their droves and switching to the liquid vapourising units, which look nothing like a normal cigarette, so the argument that people may mistake them for actual cigarettes is wearing very thin indeed,” said Barclay.
Emma Logan added: “The smoking ban was introduced as it was based on the belief that smoking cigarettes/tobacco products in enclosed spaces creates harmful properties which are potentially hazardous to health.
“Whilst this is the case with traditional cigarettes, no-one is at harm from people vaping (using electronic cigarettes) indoors and scientific research and studies have confirmed this.
“There are no negative second hand properties from e-cigarette vapour.
“Vaping cannot undermine the smoking ban; the smoking ban is intended to protect bar workers and non-smoking patrons from second hand smoke and since e-cigarettes don’t create this, their use does not undermine the smoking ban’s effort.”