E-cigarette sales reach $1 billion, continue to climb

If you have had any doubt that e-cigarettes are here to stay, the most recent report on the industry's sales may convince you otherwise. E-cig sales recently surpassed the $1 billion mark, which analysts had previously predicted would happen at some point this year. 

Wells Fargo Securities analyzed sales data from both the retail and online markets, and estimated the total sales currently hover just above $1 billion, according to Business Insider. The organization also predicted that this number could jump to $1.76 billion by Dec. 31.  When compared to last year's numbers (about $500 million), this marks a 240 percent increase and highlights a growing interest in electronic cigarettes.

E-cigarettes could outpace traditional cigarettes soon
"When combined with online sales, the industry has now exceeded $1 billion for the first time ever, with the consumption of e-cigs likely surpassing that of traditional cigarettes in the next decade," Bonnie Herzog of Wells Fargo, told Business Insider. 

It certainly doesn't hurt that e-cigarettes are far more versatile than traditional cigarettes, as they produce a practically odorless water vapor and can be smoked indoors and in most public spaces. They are also vastly more affordable, as one cartridge is the equivalent of one to two packs of cigarettes. Savings are especially pronounced when you order in bulk. For instance, when buying a 45-pack of cartridges from South Beach Smoke for $99.99, you're paying about $2.22 per cartridge. This would be like spending $1.55 for a pack of traditional cigarettes, which is far cheaper than shelling out $7 or more.

Potential loss of online purchasing ability
The ability to buy electronic cigarettes online has a lot to do with the rapid growth of this industry, as the Wells Fargo analysis found that online sales could account for anywhere from $500 billion to $625 billion of the overall sales in 2013. However, Fast Company reports that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is currently looking into regulations regarding the sale and use of e-cigs. This could result in a ban on online sales.

Thankfully for e-cig users, these vapor cigarettes are not exclusively available online. Should the FDA create sale restrictions, you will still be able to purchase your e-cigs and cartridges at various retailers. There are even shops dedicated to electronic cigarettes, making it easy to speak with experts about finding the right e-cig flavors and accessories. 

E-cig users will want to keep their ears to the ground around late September and into October, as this is when the FDA is expected to reveal its proposals for the regulation of e-cigarette sales, according to Fast Company. You can also regularly log on to the Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association website and explore the CASAA Calls to Action page to find out about the latest efforts to protect the rights of e-cig users.