Which Country Is It Legal To Use An E-cigarette, And Where Is It Illegal?

Posted by Peter Nelson on

Many people travel abroad for many reasons. We go on holiday, travel for work, sometimes both. If you vape though, it can be difficult to know the local rules and regulations, of how, when and where you might be able to use your e-cigarette. In some cases it is totally illegal to use an e-cigarette and you could actually find yourself on the wrong end of the law. 

In this blog I am going to attempt to list the countries that have made vaping illegal or at least strict rules on usage. For example vaping is banned in Bahrain and so is the import of e-cigarettes.

It is relatively easy to vape in EU countries as they all fall under the EU TPD rules, though there are some that are stricter about applying those rules than others. In the UK it is a fairly liberal application of rules, however recently in Italy they have tightened up to restrict e-cigarette and e-liquid sales and usage.

Please not it will be very difficult to get absolutely accurate information for every country in the world but as of publication this information is as correct as I can get it.

Europe:

Albania-no information

Armenia-No regulations, vape freely

Austria-Nicotine-containing cartridges are classified as medicinal products and e-cigarettes for nicotine inhalation as medical devices. Nicotine cartridges may not be sold without a license- legal but take plenty of stock to last you as you will find it difficult to buy e-liquid

Azerbijan-no information

Belarus-no information

Belgium-A royal decree legalized the sale of nicotine containing cartridges outside of pharmacies as long as the cartridge contains not more than 2 ml and a maximum of 20 mg/ml of nicotine. The sale to a minor under the age of 16 years is prohibited

Bosnia Herzegovina-not regulated, vape freely

Bulgaria-The sale and use of electronic cigarettes are legal, as well as the sale of cartridges and liquids with nicotine

Croatia-Advertising is restricted. Vaping is banned in all public enclosed facilities. By a law passed by the parliament e-cigarettes are classified as tobacco products. Therefore, vaping is banned in all public buildings, and the sale to a minor is prohibited

Cyprus-No information

Czech Republic-Advertising is restricted. Vaping is banned in all public enclosed facilities. By a law passed by the parliament e-cigarettes are classified as tobacco products. Therefore, vaping is banned in all public buildings, and the sale to a minor is prohibited

Denmark-Advertising is restricted. The Danish Medicines Agency classifies e-cigarettes containing nicotine as medicinal products. Thus, authorization is required before the product may be marketed and sold, and no such authorization has currently been given. The agency has clarified, however, that e-cigarettes that do not administer nicotine to the user, and are not otherwise used for the prevention or treatment of disease, are not considered medicinal devices

Estonia- The Estonian State Agency of Medicines had previously banned e-cigarettes, but the ban was overturned in court on 7 March 2013.Currently e-liquids containing more than 0.7 mg/ml of nicotine are still considered medicine and as such cannot be legally purchased within the country due to no manufacturer being licensed properly. Following the outcome of EU tobacco directive in October 2013, the legislation is moving towards a more relaxed stance on the issue. As stated by the Estonian minister of social affairs Taavi Rõivas (in charge of tobacco regulation), e-cigarettes will receive an advertisement ban and will clearly be banned for minors but will be available for adults before the end of 2013.

Finland-The National Supervisory Authority of Welfare and Health declared that the new tobacco marketing ban (effective 1 January 2012) would also cover e-cigarettes,resulting in that Finnish stores or web stores can't advertise e-cigarettes because they might look like regular cigarettes. In theory, e-cigarettes with nicotine-free cartridges may still be sold, as long as their images and prices are not visible. Ordering from abroad remains allowed. Sale of nicotine cartridges is currently prohibited, as nicotine is considered a prescription drug requiring an authorization that such cartridges do not yet have. However, the Finnish authorities have decided that nicotine cartridges containing less than 10 mg nicotine, and e-liquid containing less than 0.42 g nicotine per bottle, may be legally brought in from other countries for private use. If the nicotine content is higher, a prescription from a Finnish physician is required. From a country within the EU a maximum of one year's supply may be brought in for private use when returning to Finland, while three months' supply may be brought in from outside the EEA. Mail-order deliveries from EEA countries, for a maximum of three months' supply, are also allowed.

France-The sales of e-cigarettes or machines that imitate smoking, as well as the sale of cartridges containing or not containing nicotine, are prohibited to people under 18 years of age.The e-cigarettes are considered neither as a medical device nor as a medicine, according to a 2011 opinion of the National Agency for the Safety of Medicines and Health Products (ANSM), if it is not claimed by its sellers as a smoking cessation product, if the level and amount of nicotine do not exceed the thresholds of (20 mg / ml) and 10 mL respectively. In January 2017, the French Health Law transposing the European Directive on Tobacco Products came into force and establishes a list of places where smoking is prohibited. Offenders are liable to a fine of 150 euros or more. The persons responsible for the places where the prohibition applies and who have not put in place the signage will be fined 450 euros.

Georgia-Until the introduction of new tobacco laws that was passed in 2018, there were virtually no regulation in e-cigarettes. However, since the passing of the Tobacco-Control Law 2017, persons caught smoking including using e-cigarettes have been prohibited in all enclosed areas, bar private houses and casinos and public transport, but not taxis, watercraft and designed areas in airports.

Germany-Sales of e-cigarettes are prohibited for people under 18 years of age since transposition deadline for member states of the European Union regarding the Tobacco Products Directive (2014/40/EU) (including non-nicotine-containing cartridges).The use of such is not allowed in restaurants, where they are sold, and other public places.

Gibraltar-Pretty much follow UK regulations.

Greece-The marketing of e-cigarettes is banned unless a Ministerial decision authorises them under certain conditions. Sales of e-cigarettes are prohibited for people under 18 years of age (only for nicotine-containing cartridges).

Hungary-The sale of nicotine-containing cartridges is legal as long as they are packaged in volumes of 10ml maximum in bottles and only sold at the official 'Nemzeti Dohánybolt' (National Tobacco Shops). At least 30% of the packaging must indicate the following text, "This product contains nicotine, which causes a strong addiction" The same restrictions apply to the sale of any e-cigarette and refillable tanker liquids as to any other tobacco product, therefore the legal purchasing age is 18 years.

Iceland-no information

Ireland-Vaping is not covered by the Irish smoking ban.

Italy-Sales of e-cigarettes are prohibited for people under 18 years of age (only for nicotine-containing cartridges). In 2013 the minimum age of 16 years for the sale of cartridges containing nicotine was raised to 18 years. Whoever now sells cartridges containing nicotine to a person under 18 years of age can be fined 250-€2.000.

Kosovo-No information

Latvia-The sale and use of e-cigarettes are legal

Lichtenstien-Sales of e-cigarettes to people under 16 years of age is prohibited. All other laws regarding sales and imports are carried over from the laws of Switzerland.

Lithuania-The sale and use of e-cigarettes are legal.

Luxembourg-The sale and use of e-cigarettes are legal, and sales of e-cigarettes are prohibited to under 18s. Since a new tobacco law was introduced in 2017, persons cannot personally import e-cigarettes or e-liquid from aboard by post and vaping is prohibited in enclosed spaces like bars and restaurants.

Macedonia-No information.

Malta-Sales and use of e-cigarettes under 18 years of age is prohibited. Since 2010 products and smoking devices which are simulating cigarette or tobacco smoking are included to "tobacco products" as considered in the Tobacco (Smoking Control) Act.

Moldovia-No inofrmation.

Montenegro-No information

Netherlands-Vape freely

Norway-The sale and use of e-cigarettes are legal, but nicotine cartridges can only be imported from other EEA member states (e.g. the UK) for private use. Norway does not allow e-cigarette advertising.

Poland-Since a revision of the tobacco prohibition law in 2016.There has been a large change in the e-cigarette regulation, previously where it was very loose. Currently there is ban on sales to under 18s, prohibition of marketing and sales online and in cigarette machines and a ban in hospitals & all public transport including PKP train stations but not airports. Vapers who brake the laws are liable to a fine of up to 500 zloty (approximately €117.80)

Portugal-The sale of nicotine-containing cartridges is restricted

Romania-The sale and use of e-cigarettes are legal, from 2016 the liquid used in e-cigarettes will have an excise duty

Russia-Vape freely, E-cigarettes are not considered to be a tobacco product in Russia according to the Ministry of Health therefore sales and possessions of such devices are unregulated

Serbia-No information

Slovakia-No information

Slovenia-No information

Spain-Sales of e-cigarettes to people under 18 years is prohibited.The sale of products that imitate smoking (which also includes e-cigarettes) to minors is illegal. The Ministry of Health also said that the use and sale of e-cigarettes will soon be regulated.

Sweden-Vape freely, Sale of e-cigarettes is legal to sell for anyone, but sales of nicotine e-liquid is illegal to sell to anyone under the age of 18.

Switzerland-The sale of nicotine-free e-cigarette liquid is legal. In 2018, local businesses within Switzerland successfully challenged the illegality of nicotine-containing liquids within the federal courts, immediately lifting the ban and enabling the sales of nicotine liquids countrywide, and in neighbouring Liechtenstein, which follows the same laws.[As of December 2011, the tobacco tax does not apply to e-cigarettes and respective liquids containing nicotine.

Turkey-Regulation of e-cigarettes is inconsistent. Sales are not completely banned and there are plenty of online shops. In May 2013 the Minister of Heath stated that e-cigarettes which contain nicotine are medical devices and thus cannot be imported unless approved by the "Turkish Medicines and Medical Devices Agency". But according to a WHO report as of 2014 e-cigarettes are not regulated as a therapeutic product. However law 4207, which regulates smoking, was amended in June 2013 by article 26 of law 6487 to also apply to items which do not contain tobacco: "Herbal water pipes and all kind of cigarettes which do not contain tobacco but are used in a way to imitate tobacco products shall also be deemed as tobacco product." Vaping is thus forbidden indoors and on public transport, and also therefore forbidden for people under 18 years old. And thus, like tobacco products, personal import by mail or courier is forbidden. Specifically vaping is forbidden on high-speed trains.

Ukraine-No information

United Kingdom- Vape freely, sales of e-liquids to over 18s are freely available with plenty of retail outlets and online stores selling products.

United States Of America

The US is really complicated. Not only do you have Federal Law (central govt) but also state law and even city law. On top of that the FDA (US Food and Drug Administration) seems to be constantly changing its mind on the benefits, or not, of e-cigarette usage. And if that wasn't all bad enough there is a strong tobacco lobbyist movement totally against e-cigarettes. In fact, in my opinion, most of the negative press and fake news regarding e-cigarettes comes out of the US led by the tobacco lobbyists. 

As it stands it is safe to vape in the US, however state laws and even city regulations vary massively. For example in San Fransisco the authorities got fed up of warning e-liquid manufacturers about packaging that mimicked sweet and cerial packaging and names, therefore potentially attracting children. The manufacturers did nothing to change this (arguable there own stupid fault), so San Fransisco banned the sale of flavoured e-liquids other than tobacco and menthol. This attitude by San Fransisco is starting to be copied across other cities and states. Many blame the industry itself for not self regulating (something I tend to concur with). So if your visiting the States and want to vape, feel free to vape outdoors, again some states ban vaping inside public buildings, and take your own e-liquid, again some states/cities there is a vape shop on every corner whereas others there are none.

Rest Of The World

 Australia-The Federal Department of Health and Ageing classifies every form of nicotine, except for replacement therapies and cigarettes, as a form of poison. In Australia, there are no laws pertaining to the regulation of e-cigarettes. Although there are a number of laws that are relevant to the regulation of poisons, therapeutic goods, and tobacco control which are applicable to e-cigarettes in certain cases. Australia is developing regulations on e-cigarettes.The sale of e-cigarettes must be registered with the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) before being sold. Importation of e-cigarettes and their related products is illegal unless approved by the TGA. The TPA has said that there were no laws preventing the importation of e-cigarettes bought over the internet for personal use, unless prohibited by state and territory legislation.State laws in Australia's various states are a little bit conflicting. According to the Poisons Standard of 2010, inhaled nicotine is Pharmacy Only, or a Schedule 2 medication when used to help quit smoking.In April 2014 a court decision made it illegal to sell or supply e-cigarettes regardless of their appearance or nicotine content (even if zero) in Western Australia. Previously they were banned if they looked like cigarettes. The court ruled that the action they provided in and of itself looks like cigarettes. Precise rules in the other states vary.

Argentina-The sale, importation and manufacturing of electronic cigarettes have been banned by the local regulatory authority. Its use has also been discouraged by the National Clinical Practice Guideline for Tobacco Cessation from lack of enough evidence. So not illegal to use but you wont be able to buy any e-liquids while here.

Bahrain-Vaping is not permitted in Bahrain.The importation of e-cigarettes is banned in Bahrain.

Brazil-The sale, importation and advertising of any kind of electronic cigarette is forbidden. The Brazilian health and sanitation federal agency, Anvisa, found the current health safety assessments about e-cigarettes to not be yet satisfactory for commercial approval eligibility.

Canada-E-cigarettes are mostly unregulated.They are technically illegal to sell, as no nicotine-containing e-fluid is approved by Health Canada, but this is generally unenforced and they are commonly available for sale Canada-wide. Vancouver bans use of e-cigarettes in public places where smoking is prohibited. Toronto bans use of e-cigarettes in city work spaces. The governing Liberals recently introduced a provincial legislation in Ontario to regulate electronic cigarette devices. Local vape shops in Ontario currently trying to Fight Bill 45. The city of Red Deer bans electronic cigarette use where smoking is prohibited.

East Timor- E-cigarettes are banned.

Hong Kong-The sale and possession of nicotine-based e-cigarettes classified as a Type I Poison, is governed under the Pharmacy and Poisons Ordinance. Sale or possession is not authorized and both are considered punishable by a fine of up to HK$100,000 and/or a prison term of 2 years. However, the law does not cover any non-nicotine inhalers.

India-The Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 does not provide any clear classification on various usage of nicotine especially in regards to e-cigarettes. Nicotine gums or lozenges are regulated under Chapter IV of the Act. Currently, there is no federal legislation concerning e-cigarettes. In the state of Punjab, in 2013, the State Drugs Controller declared e-cigarettes with nicotine as an unapproved drug. On 7 April 2016, a District Court in the Punjab sentenced a man to 3 years imprisonment and a fine of ₹1 lakh (US$1,500) for selling e-cigarettes. This was the first ever conviction in India concerning e-cigarettes. The states of Karnataka, Kerala, Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir, Mizoram and Maharashtra have banned e-cigarettes under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940, and Food Safety & Standards (Prohibition and Restriction on Sales) Regulation, 2011

Israel-In 2013, the Ministry of Health planned to extend existing laws on smoking in public places to e-cigarettes, a year after warning against the product's usage.

Japan-E-cigarettes containing nicotine have been banned since 2010.Non-nicotine e-cigarettes are sold to adults and minors since no regulation exists for non-nicotine e-cigarettes in Japan.

Mexico-The Federal Commission for the Protection Against Sanitary Risks had previously forbidden the selling and promotion of non-tobacco objects that included elements generally associated with tobacco products.The ban was overturned in court on 23 September 2015.

Nepal-Under current cigarette laws, the sale of e-cigarettes is permitted.

New Zealand-Sales of e-cigarettes and liquids that do not contain nicotine is legal. Sales of e-cigarettes are banned for people under 18 years of age. E-cigarette advertising is not allowed.Nicotine vaping products are illegal to sell. Consumers wanting nicotine liquids must import it from overseas for personal use. Legislation of nicotine e-liquid for retail sale is under Ministry of Health consultation for parliamentary consideration.

Pakistan-The import and sale of e-cigarettes is legal, but Pakistan Medical and Dental council find that the current health safety assessments of e-cigarettes to not yet be satisfactory.

Panama-The importation, distribution and sale of e-cigarettes have been prohibited since June 2009. The Ministry of Health cites the FDA findings as their reasoning for the ban.

Philippines-The sale of e-cigarettes is unregulated, which makes them available to children and adolescents.The Philippine Medical Association has recommended to different city governments to broaden their public places and transportation smoking bans to include e-cigarettes.

Singapore-E-cigarettes are currently prohibited under Section 16 (1) of the Tobacco (Control of Advertisements and Sale) Act, which is enforced by the Health Sciences Authority (HSA). This legislation prohibits the importation, distribution, sale or offer for sale of any confectionery or other food product or any toy or other article that is designed to resemble a tobacco product or the packaging of which is designed to resemble the packaging commonly associated with tobacco products. HSA takes a serious view on any person who contravenes the law. Those guilty of the offence are liable to a fine of up to $5,000 upon conviction. According to Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan, e-cigarettes are the industry's attempt to attract new users and were marketed to appeal to younger customers, including women.

South Korea-The sale and use of e-cigarettes is legal, but is heavily taxed. Electric cigarette possession among teenagers remains an issue.

Thailand-E-cigarettes are banned.

United Arab Emirates-The sale and use of e-cigarettes is illegal.

I have covered as many countries as I can get information for and will add more as information becomes available. The sources I have used are Government websites and Wikipedia where necessary.

 

 


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