Where in the World Can I Vape?
Tuesday, 9 May 2017
For those of us who truly love to vape, vaping is more than just a smoking substitute: it's a way of life. Whether you’re lounging around the house, going out to the shop, or embarking on a trip around the world, you’re going to want your vape close at hand for the occasional puff. That begs the question: where can you vape? Since attitudes and laws regarding vaping can greatly vary from country to country, it’s a good idea to know where in the world you can vape, and what the specific allowances are for the country you’re visiting.
The last thing anyone wants while abroad is to be harassed, fined or even detained for vaping, so it’s not an area where we would advise taking risks. While we can’t go into too much detail about the ins and outs of the legal system in every single country in the world, we can give you a better idea of what you can expect based on what area of the world you’re planning to visit, and how you're planning to get there.
Vapes in Transit
Regardless of the country you’re visiting, you will no doubt run into some form of public transit on your way. As a handy start to our travel guide, we’ve collected a few things to take note of on each stage of your journey.
- Planes: Air travel is notorious for being heavily regulated, and it’s no different when it comes to vaping. Vapes are banned on the majority of airlines flying out of the UK and Europe, with a few key exceptions. Many airports ban the use of electronic cigarettes in the terminals, but some feature vaping sections where you can puff while you wait. When it comes to e-liquids, normal airline liquid policies apply. For a more detailed guide to vaping while you fly, check out our blog.
- Trains: Rail travel is one of the most common modes of transport in most countries, so it’s worth taking note of the rules. In the UK and Europe, trains have banned use inside the cabin, and many have banned use on the platform as well. These bans will usually be clearly displayed in signs, so in most cases if you look around, you’ll find a sign indicating whether it’s okay.
- Rental cars: Renting a vehicle is a great way to get around a country without restrictions, and they’re a pretty good choice for the habitual vapers. When you sign your rental agreement, the provider will usually state a ban for traditional cigarettes, but most will ignore e-cigarette use. Since vapes don’t leave a lingering smell, it’s fairly safe to sneak a puff in the car, providing you keep your focus on the road ahead. If you want to be extra safe, leaving a window open while you vape ins’t a bad idea.
- Hotels: Staying in a hotel abroad is a great way to feel the comforts of home while away, but it’s always wise to be aware of the rules to avoid extra fees or penalties. There’s no blanket rule on vaping for hotels, and in the vast majority of cases it will be fine to vape in your room as there’s no risk of lingering smells or burning a hole in the sheets. Vapour also shouldn’t set off the smoke alarm, though it has happened in the past, so it’s probably a good idea not to overdo it.
Be Sensitive to Local Attitudes
While in most Western countries vaping has become a common sight, in many other areas of the world it can be an emerging or even non-existent market. That’s why, regardless of the laws of the country, it’s important to be sensitive to local attitudes. In some areas with particularly strong tobacco industries, like Indonesia, there have been signs of campaigns against vaping that have demonised the practice to locals. When in these areas, it’s probably a good idea to keep your vaping to yourself, but in most cases it isn’t too dangerous, and you may actually end up with some interested locals eager to learn of the benefits of vaping for themselves!
Vaping Around the World
That brings us to the important part of the discussion: where you’re allowed to vape, and where you should be careful. The laws, regulations and attitudes tend to vary greatly by region around the world, so we’ve taken the liberty of breaking it down by continent, with some key examples highlighted in greater depth.
Africa provides an appropriate starting point, as the situation is as unclear here as anywhere. The majority of countries haven’t taken any sort of stance for or against vaping, with a couple of exceptions. If you’re reading this with some information we’ve left out, feel free to let us know in the comments section at the bottom of the page!
- Egypt: In Egypt there appears to be a grey area. While the sale of e-cigs is banned, it is fine to vape with your own device. Since there is a large smoking culture, a few extra clouds aren’t going to cause any sort of fuss.
- South Africa: Here there is a ban on e-liquids that contain nicotine, while the vaporisers themselves remain legal. Predictably, this has led to a widespread e-liquid black market, rendering the nicotine ban ineffective. That means when you’re out and about, you won’t have any problems with your e-cigarette, as there are plenty of vapers out there.
Of all the continents in the world, Asia is the one to be the most wary of. Many countries in this region have banned the sale and use of e-cigarettes outright, with reports of confiscations, fines and even jail time in certain areas. We’ve pinpointed some key countries, but if you’re travelling to Asia, it’s crucial to know the laws before you plan on taking your vape.
- Countries with full bans: Brunei, Cambodia, Jordan, Singapore, Indonesia and others. While these areas technically all have official bans, reports from locals of the enforcement can vary greatly from situation to situation, with open vaping taking place despite the bans.
- China: There are conflicting reports out of China, with no official law against vaping on the books. There may be regional attitude issues, but reports from travellers suggest they’ve had no problem vaping. Beware in Hong Kong though, as sale and possession of nicotine e-cigs is illegal, with fines up to HK $100 000 and a possible prison sentence of up to 2 years!
- India: In India, while vaping and e-cigarettes aren't illegal, there’s a certain amount of confusion surrounding the topic. While there is no actual law, there are reports that attitudes can vary, with one unlucky shop owner even being sentenced to jail time.
- Japan: Here, the sale of nicotine e-liquids is banned. However, allowances are made for personal imports, and the general attitude towards vaping is unrestrictive. As long as you have your own e-liquids and vapes, you shouldn’t have any problems puffing clouds in Japan.
- Thailand: E-cigarettes are banned for import in Thailand, with penalties including jail time and fines. There are reports of some people vaping in Thailand without incident, but with attitudes like this, we’d strongly suggest you leave your vape gear at home.
Australia and New Zealand
In Australia and New Zealand, there are no laws against the sale, import or purchase of e-cigarettes without nicotine. E-liquids with nicotine are regulated in much the same way as traditional cigarettes, which are legal for purchase with some restrictions on where you can use them. In general, if you’re bringing your vape gear into the country for personal use, you shouldn’t have a problem.
South and Central America
In this region, a familiar grey haze hangs over the issue. Some areas like Brazil and Suriname state bans, but neither are actually enforced, with a general relaxed attitude towards bringing your equipment for personal use. As with Asia, when travelling to South America a bit of specific research is recommended.
- Argentina: In Argentina, the sale and manufacture of e-cigarettes and vaporisers is banned. When it comes to import for personal use, reports tend to suggest it’s fine, but be wary, and vape at your own risk.
- Colombia: No laws are currently on the books regarding vaping in Colombia, with reports conflicting as to the prevailing attitudes. As the vaping trend continues to rise, new regulations will develop, so like so many other areas of the world, the situation is in a state of change. Reports from locals and travellers suggest it is acceptable, but vape carefully and keep up with the current situation.
With the exception of Mexico, attitudes in this part of the world tend to be progressive towards the use of e-cigarettes and vaporisers, with many vape shops and stores available. It should be noted though that provinces and states tend to have varying regulations, so it’s worth looking up what the rules are before crossing provincial or state lines.
- Canada: Personal use is allowed, with no problems reported taking the devices through customs. Use is allowed in most areas, but some provinces and cities have introduced bans in pubs, parks and beaches. In most places, laws are the same as they are for tobacco products, though legislation is always changing.
- Mexico: Here import and sale of e-cigarettes is banned. However, in most cases there are no problems bringing your own vaporiser and e-liquid for personal use, as long as you have no intention of sale.
- United States: As with Canada, personal use is allowed, with some minor restrictions imposed by certain states. Most federal parks will have restrictions on vaping, as well as many indoor areas, so vape respectfully unless otherwise stated and you should be just fine.
With recent changes to the Tobacco Products Directive currently coming into place, Europe is an ever-changing platform for vapers. Some countries have recently undergone strict crackdowns, while others have barely begun regulation. As a general rule, vaping is allowed wherever smoking is, with the exception of Lithuania, who have a complete ban in place.
- Belgium: E-cigarettes are okay to import for personal use and are legal for sale outside of pharmacies as long as the cartridges contain no more than 2ml of liquid, and 20mg/ml of nicotine. Attitudes are lenient as long as vaping is done outdoors.
- Croatia: In Croatia vaping is banned in public places. As long as you’re bringing your vape kit for outdoor use, you should be fine as long as you do it respectfully. Some sources state that the ban on indoor use isn’t enforced, but it will vary from region to region.
- Finland: Here nicotine is considered a prescription drug, and it is illegal to sell cartridges or e-liquids with nicotine. Cartridges with less than 10mg of nicotine and liquids with less than 0.42g of nicotine are okay to import for personal use though, so stock up before you travel.
- Ireland: E-liquids are not covered by the Irish smoking ban, and so are fine to import and buy without restriction. Recently though, vaping has been banned on all public transport.
The Bottom Line
While we’ve tried to make this guide as comprehensive as possible, an up to date review of all the attitudes and laws towards vaping is virtually impossible to provide. That means that, if you’re unsure, there’s no substitute for doing a bit of research for yourself. While we can provide a guideline to the general obstacles you may be facing, vaping regulations are a constantly changing phenomenon, with plenty new leniencies and restrictions popping up all the time. Long story short, in most places you should be fine, but vape carefully, and know what you’re up against!
What’s Your Experience?
At this point it should be apparent that vaping laws aren’t completely in place in many areas of the world, so experiences vary. As vaping and vapers spread across the globe, attitudes are changing, and more and more people are taking up the hobby. Here at Vape Mountain, we’d love to learn about your vaping experiences around the world, including the good, bad and the ugly. If you have some interesting pictures of places you’ve vaped, why not upload them to the Vape Mountain Hall of Fame, where you can find pictures from like-minded vapers looking to show off their gear and vaping achievements. If you have a story about your vaping adventures, tell your fellow vapers in the comments section below!
Have any questions, or anything to add? Tell us about it in the comments below, or find us on Twitter and Facebook!