(LONDON) — As the popularity of e-cigarettes rises, so does the need for public places for those who inhale vapor instead of smoke.
The world’s first e-cigarette lounge opened last week at London’s Heathrow Airport. Previously, e-smokers were subject to the same restrictions as traditional smokers: They had to stand outside the terminal to get their nicotine fix.
E-cigarettes produce water vapor rather than smoke.
The 323-square foot lounge was opened by Gamucci, an electronic cigarette manufacturer.
“Electronic cigarettes are subject to the same restrictions as standard cigarettes and therefore cannot be used inside terminal buildings, except in the designated e-cigarette lounge in Terminal 4,” the airport’s web site states. “They can be carried on your person, but please check with your airline on whether they are allowed on board the aircraft.”
Most travelers appear to be supportive of the lounge. A survey by Skyscanner.net found 57 percent of people would not object to other airports following Heathrow’s lead. Not surprisingly, more smokers than non-smokers were in favor of the lounge. Still, half of all non-smokers surveyed were supportive of more lounges.
The lounge opens at the same time a ban is being sought on e-cigarettes in the U.K. The Telegraph reported on concerns that “electronic cigarettes can develop into a gateway to normal cigarettes.” More than 10 percent of smokers in Britain have switched to the electronic devices, according to the paper.
Although e-cigarettes now account for only 1 percent of U.S. cigarette sales, the market will approach $2 billion in sales by the end of 2013 and may exceed $10 billion by 2017, Bonnie Herzog, an analyst at Wells Fargo & Co. in New York told Bloomberg News last month. Demand for the smokeless devices could surpass that for traditional cigarettes over the next decade, according to Herzog.
Fewer travelers said they would support so-called “vaping zones” on board aircraft.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio