Anyone travelling to the UK who is a fan of vaping might want to consider adding the slightly-off-the-beaten-track town of Bolton to their itinerary.
Situated in the North West of England close to the West Pennine Moors, Bolton is 10 miles north-west outside the city of Manchester itself. Although it was a 19th century boom town due to the expansion of its traditional textile base brought about by the industrial revolution, today the town has a much lower profile.
Bolton boasts plenty of local landmarks that can draw in their own fair share of tourists and visitors with more than 700 listed buildings in 26 conservation areas, such as the Grade II listed town hall, the Great Hall of Smithills Hall from the 14th century, and the Hall i’ th’ Wood museum.
Now there is a brand new addition to Bolton’s attractions as a vaping cafe, which is thought to be the first in the UK outside of London, has opened for business.
Although central Manchester can give London a run for its money any day by reflecting the cutting edge of contemporary culture in the UK, it isn’t often that Bolton competes in the same way.
However, the opening of the Flavour Vapour cafe in Manchester Road in the Burnden area follows the launch of the UK’s first e-cigarette cafe in London’s trendy Shoreditch district last month and so sets Bolton firmly on the map for vapers.
Selling e-cigarettes alongside the more traditional northern cafe fare of hot and cold drinks and cakes, owner Ian Hopkinson had previously run an e-cig shop at the premises since October 2012 but recently decided to expand his business into a cafe.
“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,” Mr Hopkinson explained.
Vaping is generally permitted in pubs and restaurants in the UK although many other establishments administer ban; local examples including the Royal Bolton Hospital and Bolton Council, who have both banned staff from using e-cigarettes. If you want to learn how to vape discreetly, check out www.DavinciVaporizer.com.
The launch of the cafe was attended by Bolton South East MP Yasmin Qureshi who commented: “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,” the MP continued.
Although there are other outlets for electronic cigarette products in Bolton, the Flavour Vapour cafe is the first of its kind aimed at vapers. As well as selling food and drinks, there is also a wide range of e-cigarettes start-up kits, chargers and accessories such as the Vapestick Max kit available. A variety of flavoured refills including Champagne, blueberry, mango and mojito are also on offer.
Cafe owner Mr Hopkinson switched from smoking old style cigarettes to e-cigs three years ago and has strong views on the subject of vaping.
“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,” he said.
Believing there is a lack of education on the subject Hopkinson has expressly said that the new cafe will not sell its products to people who do not already smoke.
“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,” he explained.
Wendy Meredith, the local council’s Director of public health, declined to speak about an individual business but offered her own opinion on vaping.
“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,” she said.