IN the past year the number of shops selling electronic cigarettes has decreased by 90% following lobbying by pharmaceutical companies and industry experts.
The number of shops stocking vapour sticks has fallen from more than 3,000 to barely 300. Vice president of the country’s national e-cigarettes association, Alejandro Rodriguez laments ‘smear campaigns’ against the product.
He said: “There has been a very intense attack by pharmaceutical companies which has generated bad publicity in the media.”
Companies such as GlaxoSmithKline want to regulate e-cigarettes and introduce medical regulations while the World Health Organisation said their potential health risk ‘remains undetermined’.
One shopkeeper who stocks the device said that the problem is largely because of the number of stores in competition.
He said: “There was a boom for the product here, people thought it was a magic wand for giving up smoking and no, this wasn’t the case.
“It seemed like the market was infinite and there would be enough for everyone, and we can’t deny that many of our clients have gone back to normal tobacco, although nobody is going to admit it.”
Governments worldwide have struggled with how to regulate e-cigarettes and Spain has already banned their use in public places like hospitals and schools.
Supporters claim they are a safer alternative to regular cigarettes and can be used to help smokers quit.