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Pubs close as Vape Lounges open

Pubs are not doing well in Britain, it would appear. They are closing at a rate of 31 per week, down from a high of 52 per week in 2009, according to Pendle Today, a news source in the north of England.

Vaping lounges are taking up the slack. It looks like a major reorientation in people's habits is going on, not only as regards the recreational substances they use, but also with regard to the places where they like to use them.

In March of this year, The Vape Lab, London's first coffee and vape lounge opened on the city's east side, with plans for expansion.

Says manager Igor Kapovsky, "we're looking at three more stores in London. Then, after December, we move our attention to the rest of the UK and Ireland." The move into the Irish Republic is slated for the second half of 2015.

The Irish Independent reports that there are already as many as one thousand such venues in France. Of course there are many in the US as well.

"It's all about getting a community feel to the whole thing," says Mr. Kapovsky, whose customers may sample more than 60 flavours of e-liquid, including absinthe, tangerine, and Cuban tobacco, at prices in the £7/€9 range.

Meanwhile, back up in the Pendle district, which sits in the Lancashire region of northern England, not far from the city of Leeds, Ryan Lord has renovated the Empire Coffee House in the nearby city of Burnley, and made it the town's first vape friendly social establishment. Lord also has his eye on expansion.

Ireland is prepared to offer Kapovsky's Vape Lab some competition. Phoenix iCig operates a vape cafe in Carlow Town Centre, with its own brand of e-liquids, over one hundred of them. Director Jim FitzGerald also has plans to expand into Dublin within the year.

County Carlow is in the southeastern part of Ireland, just under 100 km. south of Dublin.

So are vaping lounges the new pubs? Is vaping a replacement for alcohol as a legal recreational substance of choice? Such a dramatic shift seems unlikely. The buzz that nicotine gives is of a different kind from that of alcohol, after all. To begin with, nicotine in its lethal form has usually been seen as a supplement to alcohol, rather than as a replacement for it. Critics of vaping still pose challenges, and some of them still argue that vaping, whose unsubstantiated danger, assuredly tiny in any case, is more dangerous than smoking combustible cigarettes, which causes million of deaths with grisly regularity. Perhaps some of them will argue that vaping is also more dangerous than drinking, with its nearly 2 million annual deaths.

In any case, the vaping lounge movement is on a roll, and sure to get bigger.