Just one year ago, Spain seemed like one of the most promising places in the world for electronic cigarettes to successfully overtake tobacco. There were an estimated 3,000 vape shops selling a wide variety of ecigs and e-liquids, but then things went south. Now only around 300 ecig stores remain in operation. As the market continues to decline, ecig supporters around the world are watching closely and trying to figure out what went wrong.
Spain’s national ecig association, ANCE, blames the problem on drug companies. Vice President Alejandro Rodriguez said that pharmaceutical companies are waging a war on electronic cigarette businesses, pushing for tighter regulations and lobbying the government to classical ecigs as medicinal products so they will have to go through pharmacies rather than independent retailers. “There has been a very intense attack by pharmaceutical companies which has generated bad publicity in the media,” Rodriguez explained.
The ANCE spokesman also blamed the problem on an oversaturated market. The number of vapers in Spain simply couldn’t keep 3,000 vape shops in business. Entrepreneurs jumped at the opportunity to fill a need in the market, but there were too many of them and few have survived. Worst of all, many of these businesses gave a bad reputation to electronic cigarettes. They did not advertise them properly or they didn’t offer any real advice to help smokers make the transition to vaping. As a result, many curious smokers tried vaping and were not successful in the long run.
One vape shop owner explained the stress of trying to keep the doors open in the current market. He moved to Spain from Italy when he saw the financial opportunity arise in the vape industry. But when he arrived, he realized that his shop was on a street that had three other vape stores within 220 yards. He said it was “madness” and the businesses just couldn’t survive with that kind of competition.
“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,” the shop owner said.
Experienced vapers argue that ecigs can actually help people stop smoking, but the key is to find the right products and work with a knowledgeable vape shop owner that can guide you through the transition. Without the best products and resources, many will fail and it’s unfortunate to see this playing out in Spain.
What do you think is causing the ecig market to crash in Spain? Is it the underhanded efforts of pharmaceutical companies or too much competition in the market?