The use of electronic cigarettes, or vaping, has become a popular alternative to traditional smoking in the United Kingdom in the past 11 years since their introduction to the market. While there are no national laws that prohibit vaping, there are local laws and bylaws that restrict it in certain places. These places include most airlines and airports, most trains and railway stations, the London Underground, private members clubs, and most museums and art galleries. It is advisable to ask about the vaping policies of a specific establishment before using an e-cigarette there.
Additionally, it is illegal to vape while driving in the UK. This law is not specifically targeted at vaping, but rather the consequences of it. If a driver is caught vaping while driving and the car is filled with vapor, they can be pulled over for driving without due care and attention. This is a safety issue, as the large plume of vapor can obstruct the driver's vision and put their own life, as well as the lives of passengers and other road users, in danger.
While it is generally agreed upon that vaping is not as harmful as smoking tobacco, there are still legal restrictions in place for the production and promotion of e-cigarettes. These regulations are meant to ensure the safety of vapers and the general public by setting limits on the percentage of nicotine allowed in e-liquids and the volume of cartridges and atomizers. Advertising of e-cigarettes is also restricted to prevent targeting of young people and to ensure that accurate information about the products is provided.
In terms of smoking laws, the United Kingdom has implemented strict laws to reduce the harm caused by smoking. In 2007, the law in England changed to prohibit smoking tobacco in any enclosed space, with some exceptions for designated rooms in hotels, nursing homes, prisons, and mental health units. While e-cigarettes are not covered under these laws, many places that have implemented smoking bans have also restricted vaping. This can make it unclear as to where vaping is allowed, so it is best to approach a location with the mindset that vaping will not be allowed and to ask for clarification if needed.
Despite the lack of an outright ban on e-cigarettes, the British government views vaping as a less harmful way to consume nicotine compared to smoking tobacco. This is because e-cigarettes do not contain harmful substances such as formaldehyde, tar, particulates, and carbon monoxide that are present in traditional cigarettes. While there are no known positive health benefits to vaping, the government believes it is a safer alternative and does not want to increase the burden on the National Health Service by promoting activities that lead to illness.
It is important for vapers in the United Kingdom to be aware of and adhere to the laws and policies in place for the use of e-cigarettes. While vaping is not completely banned, there are still restrictions on where it can be done and how it is advertised and sold. By following these laws, vapers can enjoy their activity while also considering the rights and safety of others.