PUBLISHED: 08:07 GMT, 27 April 2012 | UPDATED: 09:13 GMT, 27 April 2012
Cigarette giant Lorillard today became the first major tobacco firm to buy an electronic cigarette after announcing a deal to acquire Blu Ecigs.
The third biggest tobacco firm in the U.S. has bought the ecig firm in a deal worth $135million.
Lorillard announced the acquisition off the back of figures which showed its net income had fallen 10 per cent in the first quarter of the year.
The cigarette firm earned $223 million, or or $1.70 per share, for the period ended March 31. Those figures were down from $248 million, or $1.71 per share, a year ago.
Lorillard, the maker of Newport and Kent branded cigarettes, saw its shares fall 3.9 per cent yesterday.
Electronic cigarettes, which have no tobacco but do contain nicotine, are thought to be worth around $500million in the U.S., although this figure is still dwarfed by the £100billion generated by cigarettes.
Ecigs are battery powered plastic and metal devices featuring a liquid nicotine solution in a disposable cartridge.
They create a vapour which users inhale to imitate the nicotine flavour and sensation of smoking a real cigarette.
The news comes after it emerged last year that a number of U.S. cities have already banned electronic cigarettes in the workplace and for under-18s.