Electronic smoking emporium selling £5,000 ‘e-cigarettes’ opens in Hampstead
- Credit: Nigel Sutton
An engineer who helped to build the Olympic Park and an ex-employee of Dragons’ Den star Peter Jones have teamed up to launch Hampstead’s first electronic cigarette boutique.
Vape Emporium has opened in a former gallery in Heath Street and offers “vaping” kits that range from about £30 to £5,000 for the most lavish handmade, diamond-studded devices.
Co-directors Amar El-zayat and Andy Logan, both 35, are passionate advocates of the devices, which do not contain the dangerous toxins of cigarettes, only harmless – but addictive – nicotine.
Mr Logan, a relative of former Ham&High proprietor Arthur Goss and a former Hampstead resident, said: “We’re not a medical company and don’t claim to be medical at all, but it’s got to be safer than burning tobacco and inhaling smoke.
“If people are stopping smoking cigarettes, then we’re definitely saving lives.”
Before starting the business about 18 months ago with an online store, Mr Logan worked in film distribution and telecommunications, including for entrepreneur and TV personality Peter Jones.
Civil engineer Mr El-zayat was construction manager at the Olympic Park, working on-site for five years – and discovering e-smoking there.
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“Everybody smokes in construction,” he said. “I was working on the Olympic site and a security guard was vaping, I just asked him ‘what the hell is that and can I have a go?’
“I had never seen or tried anything like it.”
He began researching the subject and decided to start a business because nobody else had “done something cool” with the products, enlisting long-time friend Andy as a partner.
The shop sells all manner of futuristic smoking devices, including e-cigars and electronic shisha equipment, with the most expensive featuring hand-blown glass, silver and even diamonds.
These are filled with nicotine-packed liquids that are specially made in London, with flavours ranging from plain tobacco to fruity grape, apple or strawberry and even coffee or ice cream.
Some critics of the industry have voiced concern that such liquids are unregulated, but the duo insist theirs are of the highest standard.
They say they would welcome regulation, which the UK and EU governments are exploring, as long as it does not enable the powerful tobacco giants to control the industry.
Mr Logan said: “If it gets to a point where you can only sell the liquids if you have gone through rigorous testing that costs £250,000 or something, then that’s going to knock everyone out of the park, apart from big tobacco and pharmaceutical companies. It would kill the industry.”