‘Vape ban’ is the phrase that strikes fear into the hearts of vapers everywhere. Many countries, like the United Kingdom, place restrictions on tobacco products, flavored e-cigarettes, and electronic nicotine delivery systems, but the actual product still remains.
Over 40 countries have implemented laws that either ban or restrict vaping. If you’re struggling to navigate around the red tape that is holding your favorite flavored tobacco products hostage, you’re not alone. The legislature is confusing at the best of times, so it’s important to have a clear view of what you’re up against. In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about importing, buying, and selling vape products in countries all over the world.
Why Do I Need to Learn About Vape Ban Laws?
Parents, campaigners, and politicians are always making the case against tobacco products, and some have even moved their focus to nicotine-containing products. Even though e-cigarettes don’t contain tobacco, they are still under scrutiny. On top of that, public health organizations constantly release studies that show that e-liquids can have a detrimental impact on your health.
In short, vaping bans could be right around the corner. It’s tempting to think that it might never happen to you, but some countries (like Brazil and Nepal) have banned vaping completely.
Apart from that, you need to abide by the laws of whichever country you are visiting. There’s no sense in taking your e-cigarettes on a plane, only to be fined for using them at your destination.
U.S. Vape Ban Laws
Each state has different local laws for e-cigarettes, but there are a few pieces of federal legislation that impact everyone in the United States.
In 2019, the government passed a federal Tobacco 21 law that prohibits the sale of tobacco products to anyone under the age of 21. According to this law, e-cigarettes fall under the umbrella of tobacco products.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has regulated vapor products in the United States since 2016. In September 2020, the FDA started reviewing Premarket Tobacco Applications (PMTAs). Manufacturers submit these applications when they are seeking a marketing order from the FDA. To get approved, the application must contain ‘scientific data that demonstrates a product is appropriate for the protection of public health.’
After weighing up the pros and cons of flavored e-cigarettes, the FDA decided that it would no longer support the sale of flavored products. In April 2020, the FDA finalized a policy called Enforcement Priorities for Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS) and Other Deemed Products on the Market Without Premarket Authorization. Let’s break this long, complex policy down.
Essentially, the policy bans unauthorized flavors of e-cigarette products in cartridge-based systems. The goal is to eliminate products that are appealing to children and teenagers, which is why the FDA has targeted cartridge-style systems. It is now illegal to sell cartridge e-cigarettes that contain fruit or mint flavors. Tobacco-flavored e-cigarettes are still permitted.
In 2021, the United States passed the Preventing Online Sales of E-cigarettes to Children Act. As the name suggests, this act clamps down on the sale and transport of e-cigarette products. It requires the ‘U.S. Postal Service to implement regulations to prohibit the mailing of these systems’ and ‘subjects the sale and delivery of these systems to certain requirements.’ One of the requirements is that an adult has to sign for the package.
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s look at vape bans on a state-by-state basis.
Arkansas – Online Sales Are Banned
Retailers in Arkansas can apply for tobacco permits, but they are only valid for in-person purchases. People in Arkansas can’t buy vape products online.
The good news is that local legislation doesn’t define e-cigarettes as tobacco products. On top of that, retailers don’t have to worry about a special (non-sales) tax for e-cigarettes.
California – Flavored Vape Ban in Vape Shops
In December 2020, Californians voted to ban the sale of flavored e-cigarettes. This includes flavors of all kinds, regardless of whether nicotine is involved. There has been significant push-back, but pro-e-cigarette campaigners are yet to see the law overturned.
Legislation in California defines a tobacco product as ‘any product containing, made, or derived from tobacco or nicotine that is intended for human consumption.’ Under this legislation, e-cigarettes are tobacco products.
Retailers can continue to sell flavored cigars that have a wholesale price of $12 per unit.
Georgia – Online Sales Are Banned
Retailers that want to sell vape products must register through the Georgia Tax Center. The licensing fee is $10.00, and it only covers in-person sales.
Maine – Online Sales Are Banned
Like Georgia, Maine has prohibited online sales. Vapers can’t buy flavored products, non-flavored e-cigarettes, or any other vaping product via the internet. The only cravat to this rule is that licensed businesses can sell vape products to each other online.
Recently, government officials and concerned groups have suggested banning flavored e-liquid products altogether.
Massachusetts – Flavored E-Liquids Are Banned
In 2019, Governor Charlie Baker signed a law that prohibits retail sales of flavored tobacco products. Massachusetts deems e-cigarettes to be tobacco products. Unfortunately, this state also considers menthol to be a flavor, meaning menthol e-liquid is banned.
Retailers can sell electronic nicotine-containing products, but if they have more than 35 mg of nicotine they are only allowed in specialty tobacco stores and smoking bars.
Specialty cigar lounges can continue to sell flavored cigars.
Electronic nicotine vaping products are taxed at a rate of 75% of the wholesale price.
New Jersey – Flavored E-Liquids Are Banned
Similar to Massachusetts, New Jersey has established a blanket ban on all vape liquid flavors apart from tobacco.
There was also a bill that proposed a limit of 20mg on all nicotine-containing products, but the Governor decided not to approve it.
New York – Flavors and Online Sales Are Banned
As of May 18th, 2020, retailers in New York are no longer allowed to sell flavored e-liquid in-store.
Online sales of vaping products are illegal in New York. Major Bill de Blasio signed the bill on July 1st, 2020. This vape ban covers flavored e-liquids, which include flavors like menthol and mint.
All vaping products have an added retail price of 20%. Retailers must have a specific permit before they sell any e-liquids or vape devices.
Oregon – Online Sales Are Banned
On January 21st, 2022, the online sale of vaping products became illegal in Oregon. Vapers can only buy combustible tobacco products and e-liquids at local vape shops.
Any inhalant delivery systems are taxed at a rate of 65% of the wholesale price.
Rhode Island – Flavors Are Banned Online and In-Person
In 2020, Governor Gina Raimondo signed a bill that banned the sale of flavored e-cigarettes, e-liquids, and any other flavored vaping products, making it the third state to do so. This includes in-person and online sales.
Fortunately, tobacco-flavored products are still allowed.
South Dakota – Online Sales Are Banned
Sales of vaping products are prohibited in South Dakota. This vape ban includes shipping products from another state. E-cigarettes and e-liquids are considered to be tobacco products.
Flavored and non-flavored e-liquids are still available over the counter.
Any self-service systems (such as vending machines) must be located in specialty tobacco stores.
Utah – Online Sales Are Banned
As of July 1st, 2016, Utah banned retailers from selling or distributing tobacco products, electronic cigarettes, and nicotine products through the telephone, internet, or mail. Of course, this means that vapers can’t buy fruity, menthol, or tobacco-flavored products over the internet.
Business owners can still sell vape products to other business owners via telephone, internet, or mail.
This online vape ban has sparked controversy, mostly due to the fact that Utah has strict zoning laws. Retail establishments that sell tobacco and nicotine must be located 1,000 feet from community locations, which includes (but is not limited to) schools, churches, playgrounds, and youth centers. The statewide ban has meant that a lot of vapers in Utah are unable to access vape products.
Vermont – Online Sales Are Banned
As recently as a month ago, lawmakers in Vermont passed a bill that prohibits the sale of online vape products that contain tobacco flavoring or any other flavoring. The bill states that if a product has ‘a distinguishable taste or aroma other than the taste or aroma of tobacco’ it is considered flavored, and therefore banned. Law-makers are clearly trying to cover every base!
U.S. Cities That Have Flavor Vape Ban Laws
Not only do vapers have to worry about statewide ban threats, but they also have to think about the laws of the city that they reside in.
Here are a few prominent U.S. cities that have banned flavored e-liquids.
- Los Angeles
- San Diego
- San Jose
It’s important to remember that many more cities that have enacted vape ban legislation. In some cases, statewide ban laws have impacted local laws. Before you visit any state, you should always do your research. Otherwise, your favorite cig might get taken off you.
U.S. Cities That Have Umbella Vape Ban Laws
Some cities have taken it one step further and banned vapes entirely. These vaping ban laws cover e-liquids, e-cigarettes, and vape accessories.
San Franciso is the most well-known Californian city that has adopted a complete vape ban, and a lot of smaller California cities have followed suit.
Vape Ban Laws In Other Countries
If you think that the statewide bans and laws that we have mentioned are extreme, you haven’t seen anything yet! Other countries have banned vape products entirely. That’s right, everything from flavored vapes to e-cigarette use is completely illegal.
Believe it or not, vape ban regulations are common in Asia, the Middle East, and even South America. European countries are far more relaxed about tobacco and nicotine-containing products.
As you’ve probably noticed by now, vape ban regulations keep people on their toes. To cut through the confusion, we have created a list of all the most important vape laws in different countries.
Although retailers are prohibited from selling vape products online or in-store, it’s not illegal to use them.
Australia has a unique way of managing the distribution of vape products. Australians can pick up vape products from their local chemist, providing that they have a prescription.
Apart from that, the vaping ban is what you would expect from any other country. It is illegal to import non-prescription vaping products (including vaping products that don’t contain nicotine) and Australians could even face fines for using vapes, depending on the state.
E-cigarettes and e-liquids are allowed in Bangladesh, but there has been a lot of pressure on the Bangladeshi government to ban vaping altogether.
In 2004, it became illegal to make or sell tobacco products in Bhutan. E-cigarettes fall under the umbrella of tobacco products, so they were also made illegal.
Residents of Bhutan can still import e-cigarettes for personal use, but they will have to pay hefty import duties.
The vape ban in Cambodia is pretty comprehensive; no one can sell, consume, or import e-cigarettes.
People in Chile can only access vape products through a prescription. Because of the medical aspect, e-cigarettes are legal to use. However, it is illegal for retailers to sell them.
Retailers can’t sell vapes, but e-cigarette use is permitted.
In 2015, Egypt banned the sale, distribution, and importation of e-cigarettes. As of May 2022, officials lifted this ban, in part to tackle the rising number of smokers in the country.
The Ethiopian government banned the manufacture, wholesale, distribution, sale, and import of any e-cigarettes or related vaping products. There are no restrictions on using e-cigarettes.
Like Ethiopia, Gambia bans the manufacture, distribution, and sale of e-cigarettes. It also bans possession of vaping products. This includes flavored vapes, non-flavored e-cigs, and any vaping accessories that you can get your hands on.
On the 30th of April, 2022, it became illegal to import, promote, manufacture, sell, or possess alternative smoking products in Hong Kong. Of course, this law includes any e-cigarette-related products.
In India, it is illegal to produce, import, export, and sell e-cigarettes or e-cigarette products. However, Indians can still use vape products.
This decision sparked a lot of controversy, in part because cigarette use is on the rise. Some reports have also highlighted the fact that the Indian government has stakes in tobacco companies.
It’s illegal to use, manufacture, and sell vape devices and liquids in Iran.
The Tobacco Control Act of 2020 bans vaping, but it has not yet been passed. Until then, Jamaicans and tourists can continue to buy and consume vapes.
Vaping is entirely legal in Japan, but nicotine is banned. To get around this problem, manufacturers have created Heated Tobacco Products (HTPs).
In 2020, Kuwait officials introduced the United Arab Emirates regulations for vaping. As a result, vaping is now banned. However, e-cigs are still permitted for personal use.
The sale, use, and importation of vapes are banned in Laos.
This vape ban includes the creation, sale, importation, and use of vapes.
In August 2022, Macau passed a vaping ban. Individuals are still permitted to use vapes.
Although the Poisions Act initially banned vapes, the Malaysian government struggled to keep up with back-street sales. As recently as one month ago, Malaysian officials amended the act to allow vaping.
On May 31st, 2023, the sale of vapes became illegal in Mauritius. Individuals can still have e-cigs for personal use.
The President of Mexico, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, passed a law that banned the sale of nicotine and nicotine-free vapes. This law went into effect in May 2022.
Mexicans can still use e-cigs without facing repercussions.
There is a lot of confusion as to whether the sale of e-cigarettes is legal in Nepal. Regardless, it is legal to use them.
E-cigs are banned entirely in North Korea. They are illegal to use and sell.
As of 2014, it’s illegal to sell and use vapes. Qatar has a very strict vape ban, you don’t want to get caught taking a puff on your e-cig in this country!
Health officials have spoken about their intention to legalize the sale and distribution of electronic cigarettes. Until then, the sale of vape products is still prohibited in Seychelles, and you can still use your favorite vape device.
It is illegal to sell and use e-cigs in Syria.
Amendments to the Tobacco Hazard Prevention Act have made the sale, distribution, and use of vapes illegal in Taiwan. Police can issue immediate fines of up to TWD10,000 ($330) to anyone that is caught vaping.
Vape ban legislation is not for the faint-hearted; this confusing topic is complicated by health concerns, rising levels of underage vapers, and vested interests. Our research shows that laws are always changing and evolving. This is especially true for flavored vape ban laws, which seem to include menthol in some states but not in others.
These fluctuations just go to show that you need to stay vigilant about vape laws. Before you visit a country, state, or city, you should always be aware of the local legislation.