Outlets in New York such as the Henley Vaporium sell e-cigerettes and are known as Vape Bars
Outlets in New York such as the Henley Vaporium sell e-cigarettes which can enjoyed indoors Reuters

E-cigarette bars where smokers can enjoy a nicotine hit indoors are growing in popularity in cities such as New York but could soon be stubbed out.

With the smoking ban in full effect in many major cities, so-called "vaporiums" have opened up offering customers the choice of an array of nicotine-flavoured vapours - with the bonus of not having to stand outside in the winter cold and rain.

"Vape bars" may look closely related to the cannabis cafes of Amsterdam, but the legal status of e-cigarettes means the bars are fully within the law – for now.

'Vaping' is growing more popular in New York with individualised vaporizers on sale
'Vaping' is growing more popular in New York with individualised vaporisers on sale Reuters

Moves are afoot to stamp out the nascent bars in New York City, where outlets such as the Henley Vaporium have sprung up to serve the demand for a taste of nicotine, but without all the tar and tobacco that can be so damaging to health.

The opening of Henley's, New York's first e-cigarette bar, coincides which the exploding popularity of the tabacco replacement device. Vape bars echo shisha bars - where customers smoke without using tobacco. The difference is that at bars such as Henley's the instrument of choice is a vaporiser instead of a hooka pipe. Using one is known as "vaping".

E-cigarettes work by drawing nicotine into a chamber through inhalation by the user. The nicotine is heated and turned into cloud, which is sucked down by the smoker like normal cigarette smoke.

But because e-cigarettes mimic actual tobacco products in design and use is a problem for some lawmakers in New York, who claim they are rolling back progress made against smoking by the authorities.

File image of man smoking e-cigarette
Man enjoys e-cigarette in New York, containing nicotine but no tar Reuters

Some critics claim people have been using e-cigarettes in public places such as libraries.

The American Lung Association accuse e-cigarettes manufacturers of using "the same tactics that big tobacco has used for generations".

"They're attracting users with sweet flavours, celebrity endorsements, and the soothing invitation to switch over instead of quit."

New York councilman James Gennar is on the frontline of efforts to ban the bars. He said: "We see these [electronic] cigarettes are really starting to proliferate, and it's unacceptable."

Julie Woessner, of the Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives, said e-cigarettes had benefits for smokers trying to ween themselves off of tobacco.

"People might be dependent on it but it's not ruining their lives and it's not ruining their health," she said. "I can breathe better. My doctor is thrilled."

Some lawmakers  want to ban Vape bars for sending mixed messages about smoking
Some lawmakers want to ban Vape bars for sending "mixed messages" about smoking Reuters