The new plant will see the immediate creation of 40 new manufacturing positions as well as 40 jobs in its retail and distribution arm, while the company believes it may be in a position to create up to 1,000 jobs over the next 12 months.
Company chief Stephen Clancy, a native of Derry, told this newspaper about the “lure of the challenge” that Healthier Smoker presented him with, stressing how he proud he is of this “completely Irish product”, which costs approximately €10 per unit.
Having run a series of discount stores prior to the economic downturn, Mr Clancy is proud of the company, where it’s positioned itself, and is enthused about its future growth.
Approximately 50,000 people are using e-cigarettes in Ireland and sales grew by 478 per cent last year, generating revenue of €7.4 million.
A recent survey by University College London found that smokers are approximately 60 per cent more likely to report succeeding quitting smoking if they use e-cigarettes than if they use willpower alone or nicotine replacement therapies such as patches or gum.
Production over the past 18 months has risen from 1000 mix bottles per week to the current rate of 50,000.
The plant expects to be producing two million bottles per week by the autumn and the need for a bigger manufacturing plant is already being anticipated.
The product’s mix is partly made from Irish vegetables and oils in an ‘E-juice’, to which nicotine is later added. The venture, based in the former Paddy Power Plumbing premises, has seen up to €3 million invested by Healthier Smoker in their new, customised Waterford plant, with actor Simon Delaney and model Karen Fitzpatrick also attending the opening.
Speaking from personal experience, this writer used an e-cigarette last year, which saw me go from smoking five cigarettes a day (plus e-cigarette) to just two a month, and by the time the e-cigarette’s battery wore out, I didn’t need a replacement.
A year later, I remain cigarette free, and have to say it proved more effective than nicotine patches, therefore I would humbly suggest that I’m proof positive of their efficacy.
Said company spokesperson Stephen Ryan: “The quality of our products is of the highest standard. In fact, we are leading the way worldwide in terms of superior certifiable quality and safety. Even the Chinese are buying from us in preference to their own manufacturers.
“The fact that we have a 95 per cent retention rate amongst people trialling the liquids speaks for itself and the response from customers certainly attests to it.
“E-cigarettes are a healthy alternative to smoking and means that people are not taking in the numerous toxins and poisons contained in tobacco cigarettes whilst trying to give up.
“There have been some concerns about e-cigarettes but it is now generally recognised that they are a helpful and safe aid to reducing or quitting smoking.”
Mr Ryan added: “There is huge growth potential in this industry and we look forward to being at the forefront of that. In export terms, we anticipate that our business, just from this facility alone, could be worth €100 million in the next five years. The potential is staggering and Ireland could possibly become a world class centre of excellence for the production of e-liquids.”
Actor Simon Delaney told The Munster Express that the product saves him “a tenner a day”, having broken his 20-a-day habit in the months that he’s been on the ‘E-Cig’.
The new Waterford plant will encompass a manufacturing facility as well as a brand new visitors’ centre where people can see where the products are made.
It will be the most modern high-tech plant of its kind, conforming to best practice and setting superior manufacturing practices for this category.
While current investment is running at €3m, an expected €10m investment is projected by the time expansion plans are fully implemented.
Among those also in attendance at the opening were City and County Manager Michael Walsh, Fianna Fáil Cllr Jason Murphy and several Sinn Féin representatives.