A 92-year-old, fitness fanatic and former London tobacconist is ‘playing’ a key role in the launch of a new web site selling electronic cigarettes.
Leonard (Lenny) Stubbs ran a tobacco store in Holborn from 1947 to 2012. For the first 50 years the store, known simply as “Lenny's” provided a comfortable income for him, but as the world moved into the internet age, a drastic modernisation was required, and the Electric Tobacconist was born – an online shop specialising in the best-selling brands of electronic cigarettes available in the UK.
Determined to prove he’s no dinosaur in the digital age Lenny has taken to twitter @electriclenny to build a four-figure following hooked on his oddball musings. Typical tweets include:
· Got sent off at over 90s football last night for a two-footed tackle. #oops #3aside
· Just been for a run. Felt great! 400m in 3 mins 57 secs. Beat THAT, @beckadlington
· School Reunion last night. VERY boring. Just me and Arthur Newman. #poorturnout
· Do I want the restaurant smoking section? Well, only in the same way I might want the asbestos section... #e-cigarettes
Lenny was a heavy-smoker himself before he saw the light. After a life-time selling cigarettes he is the proverbial poacher turned gamekeeper. He enjoys going to the gym and he enjoys electronic cigarettes. His goal in life is to see tobacco smoker numbers in the UK, currently at 10 million, halved by the time he turns 100.
And if all that sounds a bit too good to be true, well it is.
For Lenny is the creation of his ‘grandson’ Pascal Culverhouse who has launched the Electric Tobacconist (www.electrictobacconist.co.uk) just as the wave of interest in the UK’s newest smoking trend is about to go tidal.
Electronic cigarettes will revolutionise social habits,’ says the 35-year-old entrepreneur from Hertfordshire, UK. ‘Current research suggests they are 99% less harmful than tobacco cigarettes, so I believe they will save the NHS billions of pounds in hospital treatment, and they cost a fraction of normal cigarettes.
‘Lenny is my way of introducing a fun element to a business which is still being treated somewhat cautiously even by some of its own brand leaders.
‘Several online shops are focusing on the safety aspects of electronic cigarettes. I don’t believe younger buyers are interested in that approach. They wouldn’t be smoking them if they didn’t think they were far safer than tobacco.
‘The way e-cigarettes have evolved in the last couple of years is staggering. It’s nearly at the point where you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference in a blind test. So with taste and feel reaching a level where people are rapidly ‘making the switch’, they are now looking to align themselves with a brand which appeals to them the most.
‘Most other web sites are selling only their own brand. The Electric Tobacconist is offering choice. Like any good superstore, online or offline, you are not limited to one brand but the best of the brands. It’s a very exciting venture to be in at from the outset.’
There are already more than 1 million users of electronic cigarettes in the UK producing annual sales in excess of the £100 million. That figure is expected to increase tenfold over the next 5 years. Government legisation to license the new industry will be introduced in 2016 but by that time Pascal believes the tidal wave of new users will be unstoppable.
The Electric Tobacconist is a UK multi-brand e-cigarettes store operating online only. It was launched in 2013 with the aim to offer e-cigarette consumers as great a choice of brands and variation as posssible.