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All around the world: the laws that govern vaping

Vaping laws

If you’re an eager vaper – especially one just starting out with the activity (perhaps you’re a smoker looking to quit the tobacco or a converted ex-smoker) – you may well expect to be able to relax with your vape kit, vape pen, mod or pod when you next go on holiday abroad; what better time to do so, eh? But are you so sure you’ll actually be able to do that?

In order to do so you’ll have to be visiting a country that not only allows vaping, as an activity, but also allows the sale of e-cig devices, vaping accessories and vape liquids (and the specific vape juices you prefer, that is; 100% VG e liquid, for instance). In short, vaping legislation is a complex and thorny topic at best; not least when it comes to looking at it on a worldwide basis, continent-by-continent or region-by-region.

So, if you are thinking of travelling to a country whose vaping laws you’re unfamiliar with – or flat-out unaware of – here’s our trusty introduction to what legislation governs vaping, as of right now, across the globe…

United Kingdom

It’s been estimated that, right now, across the UK, around four percent of the adult population (that’s something like 2.5 million people) regularly vape. This seemingly ever-increasing popularity of the activity appears to be aiding in driving down the number of regular smokers in the UK, as is believed to be the case in the United States.

Legislation-wise, in the UK, all vaping and e-cig products are required to abide by specific standards; at present, neither a sold bottle of vape juice or a sold nicotine cartridge is allowed to comprise more than 20mg of nicotine (whatever the e-juice type; even if it’s organic e liquid). That has seen an influx of ‘nic shot’ offerings from manufacturers and retailers, these 10ml in size nicotine shots are intended to be used with shortfill vape e-liquids, whose bottle has been “short filled” 10ml’s worth of hence creating free space for the nic shot to be added.

European Union

In general, for right or wrong, in the 27 countries that make up the EU, vaping’s regarded in a similar bracket to smoking when it comes to social acceptability. Currently, around 15 percent of the bloc’s entire populations vape regularly and, although that number’s increased by about 4 percent in the last four years, EU citizens today claim to be more concerned than they previously were about the health effects of vaping. Does all this influence vaping legislation across the EU? There’s a good chance it does, naturally; to a large degree, e-cig devices and vape juices follow the same kinds of legislation that tobacco products do – and, in Europe as a continent, exceptions to this are Norway and Turkey (both of which, of course, are not members of the EU).

In Norway, you may not be able to buy a vaping device without a prescription for it or doctor’s note; indeed, without such documentation, vaping equipment and e-juices may even be confiscated. Meanwhile, the sale of them in Turkey is prohibited altogether – officially, at least.

North America

The biggest and fastest-growing vaping market on the planet, the United States has a total regular-vaping population believed to be around nine million people, which equates to almost one third the total of US smokers (evidence, indeed, as noted above, of how increasing numbers of smokers are turning to vaping in the country). As in the UK, vaping companies are canny in that they focus their marketing efforts on appealing to people who desire to quit smoking, as you’d expect. As for Canada, recent(-ish) data – as of 2015 – suggests the vaping population is 3.9 million… and, presumably, rising.

When it comes to legislation, all vape products are effectively considered tobacco products (again, even organic e liquid); thus, they have to adhere to exactly the same standards in terms of manufacturing, advertising and labelling as tobacco products, as is demanded by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Moreover, in 2015, official studies found that 15 percent of US adolescents had claimed to vape, ensuring a crackdown on vape manufacturers and retailers if they’re perceived to sell products to minors. Several states too, no doubt in response to the above finding, have raised the ‘vaping age’ to 21.

Vape-concerning legislation in Canada involves a specific, national vape association, the Canadian Vaping Association (CVA), which aids in the establishing of regulatory practices and legislative protections for both companies and consumers. And that sees an element of deliberate North American co-operation, as the CVA likes to work closely with the US-focused American Vaping Association (AVA) in encouraging trade practices and to try to iron out legal obstacles across borders.

Unsurprisingly then, vaping legislation in Canada is similar to its counterpart in the US; federally, the minimum purchase age is 18, while provinces are allowed to set their own (higher) minimum ages as they see fit. Bans on advertising vaping – and their products – to minors are also in effect. Moreover, vape device labels (and that of e-juices) are legally required to state the fact the products are of an addictive nature and pose ‘potential health risks’ to users. And, thanks to a continual collaboration between the Canadian Ministry of Health and the CVA, the passed Bill S-5, sees that vitamins and caffeine (and other such ingredients) are prohibited in the manufacture and selling of vape juices in the country.


Believe it or not, as much as 95 percent of all the hardware for major vaping brands and independent businesses combined is manufactured in the relatively small Chinese city of Shenzhen. Ironically enough, though, despite such a concentrated and booming production of vape materials, vaping as an activity is hardly booming in the enormously populated country. Among China’s millennials, attitudes to vaping are, today, becoming more relaxed and open, but across its entire populace, there’s a cautious attitude towards the practice and its related products, despite the fact 300 million-plus people in China smoke tobacco.

As such legislation for vaping’s fairly lenient in China; there’s not a great reason for it not to be so. It’s a different story, however, across much of the rest of Asia, with vaping presently banned in Singapore, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Thailand, Taiwan, Dubai, Cambodia and many of the states that make up the hugely populated India. Indeed, the penalty for vaping can be very heavy in this part of the world; for instance, you could be jailed for up to 10 years if discovered vaping in Thailand. And Japan is far from happy with nicotine-comprising vape juice; it’s looked upon as an unlicensed medical product and is, therefore, banned.

In contrast – and maybe surprisingly – Middle Eastern countries look far more favourably on the vape industry; their laws concerning vaping and its myriad products are more lenient than further east, perhaps buoyed by the region’s modern, bustling retail industry and dedication to 21st Century commerce. Indeed, the further one travels west (essentially in Eurasia here, really), the higher the number of vapers there’ll likely to be among the populaces and so the laxer the laws when it comes to vaping.

Oceania and Africa

Little research has proved conclusive regarding the vaping numbers among populations in this region of the world. Yet, a 2013 study claimed to have found that more than 15 percent of all people in Australia aged 14 or over had tried an e-cig device in the past 12 months, which no doubt explains why the country is developing a legislative platform when it comes to vaping. Currently, sale of nicotine-featuring e-juices is prohibited in Australia; that said, many other laws governing vaping vary from state to state, ensuring that, legally speaking, the vaping terrain in the country isn’t the easiest to navigate for those starting out – especially if they’re doing so in order to quit smoking. Other Oceanic countries tend to be far more relaxed with their vaping laws.

In Africa, the vaping-related laws across the continent vary a good deal, as you may have imagined; given the disparate state of politics – and, sadly, stability – from African country to African country. For example, you’ll see vaping more than tolerated in the likes of Kenya and Ghana, where vaping laws reflect those concerning tobacco; in contrast, Uganda totally banned it as an activity in 2016. Elsewhere, in heavily and densely populated countries such as Egypt and South Africa, there are, unsurprisingly, restrictions on vaping and the selling of its related products and materials.

So, to conclude, the numbers of regular vapers in almost whatever country you care mention – and, generally, whatever continent or region of the world you care mention – are ever rising. That’s a trend that doesn’t look like it’ll slow any time soon. And, in tandem with this, the vaping industry itself is ever growing and ever maturing, with the development of professional advocacy groups and consultants to advise and collaborate with lawmakers at both federal and local levels on drawing up the most effective and fairest vaping legislation.

In time too, surely the statistical body of work necessary to get this right will only increase; with the efforts of researchers and census groups proving critical in getting the right legislation on vaping devices, accessories and e-liquids passed to benefit everyone, as necessary and as is fair.

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