USA, UK or Europe Vape Laws

USA, UK or Europe Vape Laws

The vaping niche has exploded in the last ten years and, as popularity increases, so too does the amount of regulation for the buying, using and selling of vape products. Initially, the e-cigarette industry was unregulated, but today, many of the laws surrounding the industry originate from categorising the sector under the umbrella legislation of tobacco products. 

In the UK, PHE recognises e-cigarette use as a cessation tool which has helped an estimated 20,000 people quit smoking per year. What we have seen in terms of legislation is a lax approach to individuals vaping, with a focus primarily on maintaining safety and quality in the manufacture of e-liquids as well as their associated products. 

That focus on standard manifests itself as limitations on nicotine strength, reducing the maximum from 24% to 20%, and bottles sizes which are subject to a 10ml per bottle limit. Beyond that, products are under the jurisdiction of the EU's Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) and must contain warnings to the addictive qualities of nicotine as well as age restrictions for the purchasing of e-cigarettes.

UK Vape regulations

Regulations and laws surrounding vaping products focus on manufacture rather than individual usage. Manufacturers of e-liquid must provide information to the UK government on any new liquid they product. There is also a six-month 'grace period' after submitting information before any new e-liquid can enter retail.

Devices for vaping of e-liquids are also subject to regulations. Clearomisers, cartridges (sometimes referred to as pod systems), as well as tanks, can hold no more than 2ml of e-liquids. The overarching concept behind UK laws seems to be controlling the quality and safety of nicotine products for consumers.

From a consumer perspective, there is no outright legislation inhibiting the use of tobacco products. Unlike cigarettes, which are not legal to smoke indoors, the use of vaping products is up to the establishment owner. All UK train companies have an active ban on vaping and, due to the distracting nature of vape clouds, vaping while driving can result in prosecution. If you are unsure of whether or not you can vape, ask a member of staff to avoid any confusion.

European Vape Laws

As a member of the EU, the UK is subject to EU legislation that exists alongside its vaping laws. The 2014 Tobacco Product Directive (TPD) accounts for most of the rules surrounding e-cigarette products. It is from these laws that regulations on nicotine strength, tank sizes, and age restrictions are derived.

TPD is also responsible for the clear labeling of e-liquids with addictive warnings and lengthy reviews before products are available for retail. EU regulations create a degree of consistency across the vape industry in Europe, however certain countries apply different rules in addition to those provided by the EU.


Government officials are considering a wide-scale ban on e-liquids and devices. To date, this ban has not been forthcoming. However, the lack of clarity on this issue has made e-cigarettes difficult to source in Armenia.


Age restrictions in Belgium start at 16, and warning labels require printing in German, Dutch, and French. Vaping in public is under the same jurisdiction as smoking; meaning bans in indoor spaces.


 Although part of the same land-mass, Norway is not a part of the European Union and therefore has its unique laws and regulations relating to e-cigarette use. There is a comprehensive ban on the selling of nicotine products in Norway. However, products are available for purchase from abroad provided the user can prove they use them for smoking cessation. These proofs could be from a licensed medical professional, for example.


In Poland, advertising nicotine products is illegal but vaping them is not.


Similar to Norway, Russia is not a member of the European Union and is therefore not subject to its laws. Laws are typically liberal although a move to ban vaping in public is gaining traction.


Subject to the EU TPD laws mentioned above but also banned for indoor usage and outside hospitals.


Sale of cigarettes, e-cigarettes, and other nicotine products are under a ban in Turkey although vaping products are legal.


The UK has a far more liberal approach to nicotine products informed by Public Health England's view that these are valuable smoking cessation tools. Countries inside Europe, but outside of the European Union tend to subscribe to the belief of the World Health Organisation that nicotine products are problematic in any shape or form and thus, restrict access to these type of products. 

With the UK leaving the EU in 2019, there is a general opinion that tobacco laws are going to be relaxed further, although the regulations of the industry at large are relatively volatile and subject to change. As with any new nicotine products, caution is practiced until we learn more about the long-term effects of vaping. If you are traveling, it is well worth keeping up-to-date with e-cigarette use as in some countries like Thailand, usage can result in severe penalties and potential prison time.