A two-line email from Alison Shrimpton, Shipton Stores, York, sent me on an interesting half day researching the answer.

She asked: “Would you have any information on which are the best selling brands, and who the wholesale suppliers are of electronic cigarettes and their refills?”

I had a punt around and found the Electronic Cigarette Industry Trade Association (ECITA) which led me to two companies: E-Lites and Liberro which are founder members. There were a couple of others but they sounded rather too out there for family stores (‘Decadent Vapours’ for e.g.). I spoke to both and E-Lites sounds like the industry leader. For an independent small store they will send out a rep and can provide a sale-or-return stocked display stand. If the goods are not sold in 30 days there is no cost. Products come in three strengths (‘lite’, regular and menthol) with a selection of refills. Indies get 30% off, so that’s what you make. To contact them ring 0800 1123401 and select option 3 for wholesale.

Liberro seems a lot smaller. Located in North Herts but quite excited by a query from York (keen to spread). It sent me some samples of its Liberro Go. Looks like a cig and apparently performs like one. It lasts for 200 three second puffs - the equivalent of 20 cigs so you are not meant to smoke it all in one go! The company says e-smoking is 80% cheaper for customers than tobacco.

Liberro doesn’t have a wholesale department per se but, if you order online, there is a discount and they will send the items out by courier. POS is provided. Prices depend on amount ordered. Best way to get in touch is phil@liberro.co.uk although there is a customer services number, 0800 1114753.

Obviously, with the display ban on its way and plain packaging threatened, retailers will be looking at plausible alternatives.