Vaping company Blackburn may be a trailblazer, but there are calls for tougher regulation

The concept of vaping is something few people are unaware of, but in the early 2000s it was an unfamiliar phrase.

Although e-cigarettes date back to the 1960s, it was a patent filed by Hon Lik in 2003 that really started the industry. Fed up with his own habit of 20 cigarettes a day and the fact that his father was dying of lung cancer, Hon Lik set out to invent a less harmful cigarette.

The story goes that the idea came to him in a dream, where he died by drowning, his lungs filled with water, and suddenly the water turned into a harmless vapor, hence the idea of the e-cig. Many companies have since jumped on the vaping bandwagon, but it was in 2008 that Totally Wicked was launched in Blackburn.

READ MORE: Blackburn Rovers confirm new shirt front sponsor after Recoverite partnership ends prematurely

On October 8 of that year, the company was launched by Jason Cropper with his brother Fraser, who is its current president, saying 10 years later: “It was a real pioneering moment; with the term vaping still At least three years away from its appearance, manufacturers and retailers of electronic cigarettes have had the extremely difficult task of making our products known and trusted.Even in our early childhood, we were privileged to be able to rely on the support of extremely loyal customers, who have understood the potential of vaping firsthand.”

Jason is no longer involved in running Totally Wicked, having left the multimillion-pound company in 2013 after his comments to politicians were deemed “not to reflect the views of the company”. Marcus Saxton is the current Managing Director.

Marcus Saxton, Managing Director of Totally Wicked

Although Totally Wicked now has over 500 stores across the UK, including company-operated outlets and franchises, as well as sales at Asda, Sainsbury’s and Bargain Booze stores, its roots in Blackburn are a big part of the business. Totally Wicked have been the shirt sponsor of Blackburn Rovers since 2018 and have been the club’s title sponsor since January this year after Rovers parted ways with Recoverite Compression.

Fraser Cropper, the chairman of Totally Wicked, has been a lifelong supporter of the club, having sold programs at Ewood Park as a youngster, and seeing his company logo on the front of his beloved team’s shirts is something of which he is very proud. the sponsorship has also helped Rovers out of a budget dilemma and Totally Wicked has also been a sponsor of St Helen’s Rugby FC for the past 10 years.

Totally Wicked employs over 140 people directly, alongside supporting many other jobs through franchises, and the company recorded sales of £43.5m for the 12 months to March 31 2021, up slightly from the £43.3m it made in the previous year. Based in Stancliffe Street, the company takes its responsibilities seriously, requiring age verification for online sales, and in 2016 was a founding member of the Independent British Vaping Trade Association (IBVTA) which was set up to support the independent vaping industry.

Being a responsible vaping company is a hot topic right now. Last month, Tory MP Adam Afriyie, vice-chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Vaping, demanded tougher regulations on e-cigarettes after a report revealed thousands of vaping devices had been sold to Pupils.

Mr Afriyie warned that online sellers are using colors and flavors to target those under 18, as trading standards officials have reported that thousands of children have been sold vaping devices. According to a new report from Scottish Trading Standards (SCOTSS), a total of 88,839 disposable vaping devices have been withdrawn from sale because they were not labeled correctly under the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016.

In line with tobacco products, e-cigarettes and liquids have age restrictions meaning you must be 18 to buy them, but earlier this year a BBC survey found that a third of stores were selling to young minors. A rise in the number of children vaping has led to calls for stricter regulations on the sale of e-cig products.

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