Lawmakers in Europe have voted to ban menthol cigarettes, but have rejected a proposal to heavily regulate "E-cigarettes." This development further cements the vast gulf between the cool, dangerous, retro smoking choices of the past, and today's ridiculous techno-vaping nerd trend.

Menthols have been under attack on both sides of the Atlantic for some time now. They are the polar opposite of E-cigarettes, which contain no tobacco, and which are now, with the blessing of Europe, more or less health food. It seems that the "They can help smokers quit!" view of E-cigarettes is set to carry the day. OUT: Badass biker wearing shades smoking an unfiltered Camel. IN: Software developer wearing Google Glass and smoking nicotine-infused water vapor out of a battery-powered plastic tube. Says the New York Times:

The use of e-cigarettes, primarily by smokers looking for a way to kick their tobacco habit, has skyrocketed in Europe and the United States, with sales growing so fast that some Wall Street analysts predict the battery-powered devices could surpass cigarettes within a decade... The market for electronic cigarettes and related paraphernalia, which barely existed a few years ago, is now estimated to be worth more than $650 million a year in Europe, although no precise figures are available. E-cigarette sales in the United States have also exploded to create what Wall Street analysts predict will be a $1.7 billion market this year.

Even as they grown in popularity, e-cigarettes remain uncool.

[Photo: Flickr]