BERLIN, Sept. 21 (Xinhua) -- The e-cigarette industry is benefiting from booming demand for the tobacco-free smoking alternative, the German association for e-cigarette Trade (VdeH) told press at the ongoing "InterTabac" trade fair in Dortmund on Friday.
According to the association, e-cigarette revenue has increased by 39 percent in 2017 to a total of 580 million euros (681.3 million U.S. dollars). As a consequence, revenue has now more than doubled in only two years compared to 270 million euros in sales back in 2015.
"The trend is a steep upwards one," Dac Sprengel, the director of VdeH, said.
In spite of the confidence expressed by Sprengel, Jan Muecke of the German Cigarette Association (DZV) said that his longer-standing industry did not view the new product as a threat.
Muecke noted that several major tobacco companies had already introduced their own electric versions to "broaden the product portfolio". E-cigarettes were still a niche product, accounting for less than a fifth of the 26 billion euros in revenue achieved with the sale of the traditional cigarettes in Germany in 2017.
While Spengel admitted that e-cigarettes sales are still a long way from that figure, he predicted that continued rapid growth could propel revenue in 2019 to 900 million euros. He urged the German government to offer its support to the electric alternative which he claimed could help reduce the incidence of cancer in the country.
Spengel's association estimates that e-cigarettes are "at least 95 percent less harmful" than normal cigarettes. Although the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) shares the view that there are relative benefits, the medical organization has warned that e-cigarettes still contain the extremely addictive substance nicotine and could hence undermine efforts for smokers to give up the habit.
In light of a growing health consciousness among consumers, the DZV generally expects its market to shrink by a longer-term annual rate of around 1-2 percent. The number of cigarettes manufactured annually in Germany has already halved to around 150 billion during the past 15 years.
"InterTabac" is the largest regular industry trade fair of its kind in Germany. Around 500 exhibitors are presenting their products, ranging from cigarettes, cigars to pipes and vaporizers in Dortmund until Sunday.