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A Guide to UK Vaping laws

The popularity of vaping has consistently risen over the last decade, with more smokers than ever turning to vaping and e-cigs as a safer, healthier alternative to traditional cigarettes. As is the case with the sale of all tobacco related products e-cigarettes are strictly regulated and are subject to their own set of rigorous laws and government developed restrictions. These laws and guidelines have been put in place to ensure consumers are protected and to ensure the safety of others.

Below is a summary of the various restrictions surrounding the sale and usage of vaping products.

Vaping age restrictions 

While vaping is considered a much safer alternative to traditional smoking, there are still age restrictions in place. These age restrictions have been developed to prevent younger people and children from experimenting and taking up vaping. It's for this reason that the legal vaping age is set at 18. You must be over 18 to use and purchase vaping products in the UK.

The restrictions are also extended to vaping advertisements, which must not include models or actors who appear younger than the legal vaping age.

Product restrictions

Vaping laws also cover the content and the strength of nicotine-based vaping products. Any e-cig manufacturer must register their products with the MHRA at least six months before sale to ensure they're TDP compliant. Product restrictions include:

  • Nicotine maximum strength: 20mg/ml
  • E-liquid containers maximum: 10ml
  • Maximum capacity of cartridges: 2ml

Vaping in public places

The 2007 indoor smoking ban marked a complete veto on lighting up cigarettes inside public places, including pubs, clubs, restaurants, workplaces and even work-related vehicles. Thankfully, the ban doesn’t apply to vaping products. However, that doesn’t mean you’re free to vape anywhere you choose.

Generally, it is at the discretion of the property owner, whether they choose to include vaping products in their "no-smoking" policies. So, vapers should always ask for clarity before they reach for their e-cig. If you are caught using your e-cig after being requested not to do so, you won't face legal ramifications, however, you will probably be asked to leave. You must always be considerate and respect the rules of the establishment to avoid any issues.

Where vaping is prohibited

Despite not being included in the indoor smoking ban, you will find some public places that do not permit the use of vaping products. These include:

  • Airports and train stations
  • Museums and art galleries
  • Cinemas and theatres
  • TFL transport

Public transport restrictions

Most forms of public transport including bus and train companies will have their own sets of regulations, however very few permit the use of e-cigs, so don’t expect to use your e-cig whilst on board.

Vaping in airports and on planes is strictly prohibited and almost all airlines request that vaping paraphernalia including batteries etc are taken onboard via hand luggage in clear plastic containers, adhering to the current liquid restrictions. Passengers can expect vigorous checks at airport security, however, always check with your airline before your travel so you know what to expect and you don't miss your flight.

Vaping whilst driving

Vaping behind the wheel isn’t currently against the law, so you wouldn’t automatically be at risk of legal repercussions if you were pulled over with an e-cig in your hand. However, there is evidence that police are pulling over an increasing number of motorists who are vaping behind the wheel, simply because of the potential risk presented by the plume of cloud smoke that can arise from vaping. Should the police adjudge that the activity of vaping whilst driving would impair an individual’s ability to drive safely they can issue on the spot fines of £100 and impose 3 penalty points. If the case is heard in court this can rise to a fine of £5,000 and 9 penalty points, with the potential of being prosecuted for Careless Driving in the event of an accident.
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