Smoking and Vaping Rules in the UK - Broke in London

Smoking and Vaping Rules in the UK

Everything you need to know

Guest post by Christina Matthews

Electronic cigarettes have been in the United Kingdom market for more than 10 years now. Over this time, new laws to regulate smoking and vaping have been introduced. These laws govern the manufacture, promotion, and sale of vaping products. They also reinforce smoking laws. Although vaping doesn’t have legal restrictions in the United Kingdom, some local bylaws and laws prohibit this habit in some places.

A vaper that violates the laws of individual institutions and establishments is prosecuted. Smoking is governed by widespread and fairly rigid laws. But since 2007, England changed these laws to prohibit tobacco smoking in enclosed spaces. However, this law exempted places like designated rooms in nursing homes, hotels, mental health facilities, and prisons. In terms of UK ecigs, no law bans vaping anywhere effectively, both outdoors and indoors. However, some spaces have levied sanctions for vaping and every visitor is expected to abide by their prohibitions.

Vaping in Institutions and Companies

Some institutions and companies forbid vaping.

These include:

  • Most airports and airlines
  • Most railway stations and trains
  • London Underground and TFL transport providers  
  • Private membership clubs   
  • Most art galleries and museums 

It’s important to note that there are cases when the prohibitory message is not clear. Some restaurants, for instance, prohibit vaping believing that it’s a backward step even after accepting the 2007 smoking ban with open arms. However, some institutions allow vaping.

Nevertheless, it’s better to visit a place with a mindset that you won’t be allowed to vape than go in with a vape plume. Therefore, if unsure whether vaping is allowed or not, ask the owner, manager, or receptionist. Don’t forget that there are laws that govern where vaping is allowed and where you will be prosecuted based on the set local bylaws and laws. It’s also worth noting that the ‘no smoking’ sign is also likely to restrict vaping in most places.

General Vaping Policies and Restrictions

The number of electronic cigarettes has been increasing in the UK over the years. In 2016, The Royal College of Physicians shed some light on vaping via its research on the effects of vaping on the human body. This study revealed that the effects of vaping on the human body are twenty times less severe when compared to smoking. This information triggered changes in the vaping policies in the UK, as well as, the attitude of the public towards the habit.

Vaping is undoubtedly beneficial to a smoker that wishes to quit smoking. It’s also safe for bystanders because vaping does not produce smoke. Nevertheless, it’s unreasonable for the UK authorities to give it blanket permission. Some restrictions are necessary to minimise harm to minors, as well, as people that don’t smoke or vape. This is particularly crucial due to possible allergies that may be caused by the e-vapor contents.

People under the age of 18 years are officially not allowed to vape. Models below the age of 25 years are also prohibited from participating in the promotion of e-cigs by the advertising rules. Attempts to advertise even the best e-cig uk product to children can have negative legal consequences.

The allowed e-liquid capacity in containers also has some limitations. Containers should not have more than 10mls of e-liquid. Cartridges and clearomizers must also not have a capacity of more than 2mls. Additionally, the allowed strength of the e-liquid nicotine should not exceed 20%. For safety and quality purposes, the UK government requires manufacturers to present their vaporizers and electronic cigarettes for approval before presenting them to buyers.

Vaping while Driving

Although vaping while driving might not seem like a big deal for some people, it can land you in trouble with a £2,500 fine and 9 penalty points. It’s important to note that it’s not the vaping act that is likely to get you in trouble. It’s the repercussions of vaping. When driving, it’s the vape plume that is likely to get you into deep water.

Vaping while driving means your vehicle can be filled with vapor when the traffic police officers ask you to pull over without due attention and care. A large plume can hinder you from seeing through the windscreen properly. That means you could be endangering your life, the lives of passengers in your vehicle and other motorists.

What’s more, you could be distracted when trying to use your vaping device. For these reasons, the UK law restricts vaping while driving.

The View of the UK Authorities on Smoking and Vaping

The United Kingdome authorities view vaping as a less harmful smoking alternative. As such, the government has remained hesitant to issue an outright ban on vaping. That’s why some electronic cig reviews UK versions may claim that vaping is generally allowed. However, regulations have been put in place to restrict smoking and vaping in some places to ensure vapers’ safety while protecting people that don’t wish to be subjected to smoke or vapor clouds.

Most UK regulations apply to vape products, their manufacture, advertisement, and sale. Strict limitations have also been placed on the nicotine percentage in vape liquids and e-liquid capacities in containers, clearomizers, and cartridges. What’s more, the UK authorities require manufacturers to avoid claiming that their vaping products are safer than traditional tobacco cigarettes. However, Public Health England issued a press release sometimes back stating that vaping is 95% less harmful than smoking.

In 2018, the updated information on vaping safety was availed. This prompted members of parliament from both House of Commons’ sides to call on the UK government to allow electronic cigarettes to be availed through the NHS based on prescription. Some members even called on the government to consider making vaping lawful in indoor places like offices. This move would circumvent the existing local legislation.


The UK does not have strict laws prohibiting vaping as it does when it comes to smoking. That’s because research has shown that vaping is potentially less harmful than smoking. Vape companies are prohibited from stating that vaping is safer than traditional tobacco smoking by the current law. However, the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Vaping (APPGV) intends to make a public acknowledgment that vaping is less harmful than smoking. The APPGV targets other public places like museums and universities.

But, whether you are local or a visitor, it’s your responsibility to know and abide by the rules that govern UK vapor and smoke. Therefore, make sure that know and understand all rules, restrictions, and regulations that govern smoking and vaping in the UK.