SALES of electronic or E-cigarettes have plummeted by 70 per cent in Spain due to strict regulations covering their use and reports claiming they are not entirely without health risks.
The Spanish National 'Vaping' Association (ANEV) says the fall in populartity of E-cigarettes has been caused by 'an intentional and organised movement aimed at discrediting' the alternative to traditional smoking, and says they should not be subject to the same restrictions as tobacco.
The ANEV insists that using E-cigarettes - called 'vaping' rather than 'smoking', since they give off vapour instead of smoke - is 'far less toxic' to health than traditional cigarettes and cigars.
According to the Association, a counter-movement promoting products aimed at helping people give up smoking is killing off the E-cigarette trade, but that said products have side-effects which are 'much more dangerous'.
If the trend continues, the ANEV predicts that 20 per cent of shops specialising in selling E-cigarettes in Spain could close, despite not having been open for very long.
The Association says the new alternative to smoking has created a significant number of jobs in Spain which would be lost, and has given those forced to give up on the chances of finding work in the traditional job market the possibility of working for themselves instead.
Already, 60 per cent of outlets have closed.
Despite reports that the vapour in E-cigarettes contains nicotine, the addictive substance in tobacco, and that a type of glycerine used in production sits on the lungs and does not break down, Italy and France have been promoting them as safer alternatives to smoking and doctors, oncologists and pneumologists have been recommending them to patients who cannot give up mainstream cigarettes, says the ANEV.
They consider that Spain's blanket ban on 'vaping' near schools, health centres or in public places, and continued health warnings about E-cigarettes, are 'purely financially-motivated' and aimed at benefiting large pharmaceutical giants who provide drugs to help people stop smoking - a way of clawing back multi-millions in taxes.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned that the use of E-cigarettes is not such a healthy alternative to smoking as the public has been led to believe.