AN ELECTRONIC cigarette supplier has unveiled plans for a six-fold rise in staff numbers in the year ahead as a result of “massive growth” in the market for tobacco substitutes.
Damien Scott, commercial director of Edinburgh-based Skycig UK, said the firm has experienced a 1,000 per cent rise in sales in the past year and its products have replaced 50 million traditional cigarettes since it was formed in 2009.
“It’s only in the past year we’ve started to see the growth we’re currently experiencing,” Scott said, adding that he expects the UK market for electronic cigarettes to be worth around £250 million by 2014.
Growth in the electronic cigarettes market has been attributed to the ban on smoking in enclosed public places, which was introduced in Scotland more than six years ago.
Last week, electronic cigarettes were linked to a major security incident which caused the M6 in Staffordshire to be closed for hours. Armed police evacuated a coach in Staffordshire on Thursday after being alerted by a passenger concerned about vapour emerging from a “health improvement aid for smokers”.
Skycig UK firm currently employs 25 people in Scotland, with a further ten based in London, and Scott expects the workforce to rise to 150 by September 2013.
“All of our orders are shipped from Linlithgow and our customer service operations are based on George Street in Edinburgh,” Scott said.
“Edinburgh and Glasgow are our two largest cities for sales after London and we’re looking to build on that.”
He added: “We’re going through massive growth and we’re looking to expand our office space – and we intend to stay in Edinburgh.”
Scott said the company’s products offered a number of benefits over normal cigarettes, with cost being a major selling point.
“These are up to 75 per cent cheaper than regular cigarettes,” he said.
Although the devices are not primarily aimed at those hoping to quit smoking, he said users can adapt the nicotine content to suit their needs.
He added: “There’s no tar, no carcinogens and none of the 4,000 chemicals found in cigarettes.
“It does contain a nicotine solution and, as the battery heats up the liquid, it creates water vapour to give the authentic feel of smoking.
“It’s also convenient – you can use it in pubs and restaurants because you’re not exhaling tobacco smoke.”
Scott admitted that some users may attract odd looks or complaints from fellow customers in bars and other enclosed public places.
“We sell a blue-tipped battery so it looks like a cigarette from a distance but the blue light allays any fears that people are smoking inside,” Scott said.
“It’s a cosmetic thing, and our customers want the physical feel of smoking. The light’s an important part of that. I don’t see why we should have to hide it away.”