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VIP opens “Blending Boutique”

VIP e-cigs are in the news again, this time with it's new “Blending Boutique” in the East London shopping center, Westfield Stratford City.

The brand has been energetically on the move in recent months, fielding television advertisements that have garnered considerable comment, much of it negative, but perhaps likely to increase sales all the same. When the Advertising Standards Authority relaxed restrictions, allowing adverts on the telly as long as they don't target youth or non-smokers, VIP moved in quickly with new versions of its notoriously salacious TV spots, in which a sultry babe blows vapor in viewers' faces. Or is it smoke? Viewers weren't sure, and 199 of them complained to the ASA, which promptly banned the spots anew. The charge was the familiar one of “re-glamourising smoking” by a vague equation of smoke with vapour, and the attendant claim of an appeal to hook non-smokers on a new form of nicotine.

The new Blending Boutique in Westfield Stratford brings to 120 the number of VIP outlets in Europe. It will feature a “mixologist” (just like the Henley Vaporium in Lower Manhattan, and other vaping lounges in the US, the UK, and worldwide). This helpful staff member will assist the customer in blending his or her own unique flavour of e-liquid. Perhaps it would enhance the popularity of the outlet if the starlet from the advert, with her bedroom eyes and phone-sex practicioner voice, were to be employed as “mixologist”. Just a suggestion.

VIP's parent company, the Electronic Cigarette International Group (ECIG), has also been in the news among stock market analysts, as a result of energetic expansion and stock market activity. Originally trading as Victory E-cigs, based in western Michigan, the company began a vigourous expansion program early this year, buying up a number of other brands, both American and British ones, and redesigning itself as an international conglomerate in the vaping supplies industry, capable of rivaling Big Tobacco firms, even though it markets no poisonous products.

A few months ago, ECIG, which had been an over-the-counter (OTC) stock, announced a plan to go on the NASDAQ. Then, suddenly and mysteriously, their stock price took a nose dive, plummeting to an unprecedented low. The move onto the NASDAQ boards was scotched, an event which even incurred stiff monetary penalties. During the past week, however, the news has been better for the stock value, which is now on the rise again. Some investors see it as an opportunity to get into a market with lucrative potential at rock bottom current prices.

But me, I'm heading for East London and Westfield Stratford City. I hope that babe has been hired as mixologist. “Blow vapor in my face, honey! ...or is it smoke? -- Who cares?!”