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Grocers making room for vapes

Your local grocer is making room on the shelves for vaping supplies. To be more precise, they're already there, but the management is eagerly planning to make more space for them, according to David Shrimpton's editorial comment in Talking Retail an e-zine that calls itself "The Hub for Grocery Retail". The way things are going, they'll probably move combustible cigarettes over to a smaller section on the side, in order to open up a whole new section for your favorite vapes. 

"Indeed, for those retailers contemplating placing their cigarettes literally under the counter," says Shrimpton, "they could even offer a solution to the question of how best to make use of the high-profile display area where the gantry is currently situated."

Noting that the market for vaping products has grown by 340% in just two years, the grocery guru is crowing about high markups to compensate for low turnover, with a net saving still accruing to the consumer, because of the high number of puffs per e-liquiid container. Everybody wins. 

It is also clear that the favored product will not be the "cigalikes" pushed by Big Tobacco and a few independent companies, but the  personal vaporizers (PVs), tank systems, and "mods" that are more popular among experienced vapers. Industry and market analysts, who watch for trends in investment and sales, have been talking about this trend  for months now, and it is having a genuine impact on the way shelves look in convenience stores, in vape shops, and now in grocery stores as well.

The same trend is evidenced in this new sister site of the E-Cigarette-Forum, presenting the newsiest bits in a special internet location, named in a way that looks to the future. "Vaping" embraces more than just the imitation of cigarettes, and that's reflected here. Who knows, this shifting focus could have an important impact on the regulatory environment, since one of the things that infuriates smoking-ban zealots, and makes them vaping-ban zealots, is the fact that vaping has looked so much like smoking in the past. Just when they won their hard-fought victory and demonized the image of someone with a fag hanging out of their lips, along came a healthy habit that revived that image. The threat of the "re-normalization" of smoking, "glamourizing" it, especially among youth, inflamed their imaginations. Well, no longer! What's glamorous now is the sleek metallic vape pen, not something that looks like a cigarette. This might ease some of the visceral opposition vaping has encountered to date.

Another bright spot in Shrimpton's editorial is his strong recommendation that grocers should carefully observe bans on sale to minors. He notes that the possibility of such sales can "fuel the fire of the anti-vaping lobby," and counsels that "responsible retailers should help guard against this by not selling e-cigs to under-18s and not merchandising them too close to confectionery." These measures on the part of retailers should also help ease opposition to the product.