The legal status of electronic cigarettes varies widely around the world; Some countries embrace vaping and nicotine as a healthy alternative to smoking, while others have restricted their use by law, banning them outright or regulating them like medical devices or tobacco products.
In this article, we will try to provide you with a list of countries where E-Cigarettes are regulated, sales are restricted or outright banned.
Electronic Cigarette Legal Status: Country by Country
ARGENTINA – Banned.
The importation, commercialization, and advertising of e-cigarettes and accessories are all prohibited under Resolution 3226/2011.
AUSTRALIA – Partial permission: two-tier system.
Permitted, if without nicotine or with a doctor’s prescription if using nicotine.
Illegal to sell refills or cartridges containing nicotine. There are currently no laws restricting the sale or promotion of hardware or zero-nic refills.
As of Oct 2021, it is illegal to possess nicotine without a doctor’s prescription. Importing nicotine base or e-liquids illegally can lead to fines of up to $222K.
AUSTRIA – Banned.
E-cigarettes are considered medical devices, and nicotine cartridges are medicinal goods. Nicotine cartridges may not be sold unless they have been authorized.
BELGIUM – Partial permission: two-tier system.
Permitted if nicotine is not present.
Only the sale of refills or cartridges containing nicotine is regulated by medical licensing. There are no restrictions on the sales or promotion of hardware or zero-nic refills. Nicotine-containing gadgets and refills are prohibited (they need an MA).
Personal import of refills with nicotine is legal if they are: a) for personal consumption; and b) sold by a vendor in an EU country where the sale of refills with nicotine is permitted (due to EU ‘free movement of goods’).
Vaping is not permitted in places where smoking is prohibited, such as inside public buildings.
BRAZIL – Banned.
The use of e-cigarettes is legal, but selling them is not.
They are considered tobacco products, and importing, selling, and marketing them is illegal.
BRUNEI – Banned.
Sale is prohibited because it resembles a tobacco product, and a $10,000 penalty may be levied.
CANADA – Legal for personal use.
New legislation for 2021 set a maximum nicotine concentration of 20 mg/mL for vaping products. Health Canada has proposed a full federal ban on vaping flavours. The new rule will go into effect in 2022.
CHINA – Permitted, but subject to variability by region.
The sale and use of e-cigarettes are legal. In 2019 online sales were banned.
A ban on the sale of vaping products to those under 18’s was introduced in 2021.
COLOMBIA – Legal to use, but selling is prohibited.
The tobacco control law classifies electronic cigarettes as a form of imitation, banning sales and marketing. The use of these products is banned in enclosed public places and on public transport.
COSTA RICA – Permitted.
Import, sale, and usage are all legal. It is considered a tobacco product and is regulated accordingly. A special declaration is required for importation (but no special license is required).
In public places, usage is restricted.
There is no legal restriction on nicotine strength or flavour combinations.
No advertising is allowed. Article 18 states that commercial advertising is strictly prohibited; however, restrictions apply in adult-only businesses that have not been designated as “areas totally smoke-free.” This discretion would apply to private locations, such as a personal home or a private, members-only club.
CZECH REPUBLIC – Permitted.
An e-liquid that contains less than or equal to 20 milligrams of nicotine per millilitre is allowed. Single-use e-cigarettes and e-cigarette tanks must not exceed 2 millilitres in volume. The maximum volume for refill bottles is 10 mL.
DENMARK – Permitted
In 2021 regulations were introduced banning vape flavours – only tobacco and menthol are not available for sale. The nicotine content of e-liquid must be less than or equal to 20mg/mL. Single-use e-cigarettes, as well as e-cigarette tanks, must not exceed 2mL. 10 mL is the maximum volume for refill bottles.
ESTONIA – Permitted.
The Tobacco Act 2016 classifies e-cigarettes as tobacco products, but they may also be medicinal and thus regulated by the Medical Devices Act. The purchase of e-cigarettes by minors (under the age of 18) is prohibited, as well as possession and usage.
EUROPEAN UNION, EU – Permitted.
Import, sale, use and advertising is permitted.
The EU Tobacco Products Directive was revised in May 2016, tightening e-cigarette rules. It restricts electronic cigarette advertising in print, on television and on radio, lowers the amount of nicotine in liquids and reduces the options used to flavour them. Vaping is not prohibited in public areas under this legislation. The buyer of e-cigarettes must be at least 18 years old.
FRANCE – Partial permission.
Unless they satisfy the criteria for medical licensing, electronic cigarettes and nicotine liquid are regarded as consumer goods governed by general product safety rules. If a device claims to help smokers quit smoking, or if the amount of nicotine in a cartridge is more than 10 mg; or if the nicotine strength in a refill is greater than 20 mg/mL, an MA is necessary.
FINLAND – Partial permission: two-tier system.
In Finland, nicotine-free liquids and e-cigarette gadgets are both available. Nicotine-containing fluids are subject to the Medicines Act and do not require a sales license in this country. By any legislation, there are no restrictions on the sale of nicotine-free liquids.
GERMANY – Permitted.
Import, sale and use are permitted.
E-cigarettes with and without nicotine are classified as tobacco-related goods, subject to the federal government’s Tobacco Products Directive and Related Products 2016.
Manufacturers and exporters must adhere to a slew of product criteria, including on-pack warnings and the prohibition of the sale of nicotine-containing and non-nicotine e-cigarettes and e-shishas to, as well as their usage by, persons under the age of 18.
In 2021, Germany adopted a new tax code for e-cigarettes (the Tobacco Duty Modernization Act). E-cigarettes will be classified as “tobacco product substitutes” and taxed at 0,16 € per millilitre in 2023 up to 0,32 € per millilitre by January 1st, 2026.
GREECE – Permitted
E-liquid must not contain more than 20 mg of nicotine per millilitre. Single-use e-cigarettes and tanks must not exceed 2 mL, and the volume of refill containers may not exceed 10 mL. Certain preservatives should be avoided, as well as any other chemicals that might be hazardous to users’ health.
Only substances that are safe to consume in heated or unheated form may be used in e-liquid containing nicotine. The amount of nicotine delivered by e-cigarettes must stay constant under typical usage conditions.
HONG KONG – Partial permission: two-tier system.
Nicotine-containing e-cigarettes are classified as licensable poisons and are prohibited. The city’s legal code, which is set to take effect in 2021, prohibits selling, producing, importing, or promoting e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products. It does not apply to personal use. It’s uncertain how the prohibition will affect companies that export goods from Hong Kong harbour.
HUNGARY – Partial permission: two-tier system.
E-cigarettes are categorized as consumer goods. For sale, marketing authorization is necessary. Tobacco shops are permitted to sell them.
INDONESIA – Partial permission: two-tier system.
Nicotine-containing e-cigarettes are classified as “other processed tobacco” or items that contain “extract and essence of tobacco,” according to the 2017 Ministry of Finance regulation on tobacco products. Non-nicotine e-cigarettes, on the other hand, are classified as consumer goods owing to the equipment used in their use, as well as non-nicotine e-cigarettes.
E-liquids are taxed at 57% of the retail rate.
IRAN – Legal to use, illegal to sell
In 2019, the Iranian government passed new rules governing tobacco products. This legislation expressly bans all commercial sales and purchases of e-cigarettes, as well as related parts and accessories.
ISRAEL – Permitted.
Import and sale are allowed.
Plain packaging is required for all electronic cigarettes and heated tobacco products, which must be displayed in such a way that 30% of the package is covered with warning labels.
In November 2021, the Minister of Finance signed a law imposing taxes on e-cigarette liquid and disposable e-cigarettes.
ITALY – Permitted.
The sales tax on e-liquid for 2021 is 0.086860 euros per ml for e-liquid without nicotine and 0.130289 euros per ml for e-liquid with nicotine, according to the European Union’s Tobacco Products Directive (TPD).
JAPAN – Partial permission: two-tier system.
Non-nicotine e-cigarettes are not presently regulated. Nicotine-containing e-cigarettes, on the other hand, are classified as medicinal products and governed by Japan’s pharmaceutical regulations. Marketing approval for the sale, advertisement, production, importation and distribution of medical goods is required under this legislation. IQOS is a type of heated tobacco product (HTP) that is legal and quite popular.
JORDAN – Permitted
Jordan restricts the purchase of e-cigarettes to those 19 and older. It also regulates the production of e-liquids, including their ingredients and permissible flavours and additives. E-cigarettes are prohibited in all indoor public places in Jordan.
For all e-liquid, as well as a nicotine warning for e-liquids containing nicotine, Jordan requires childproof packaging. For freebase, the maximum nicotine concentration is 20mg/ml, and for salt, it’s 25g/ml. E-liquids are taxed at 200 per cent of their value under a ministerial order that prohibits any form of tobacco industry sponsorship, including advertising and promotion. All types of tobacco advertisements and promotions are banned under separate public health laws.
KOREA, REPUBLIC OF – Permitted.
Considered a tobacco product, it is governed by tobacco control legislation. Taxes are high. According to reports from Korea, retail prices in the country are the highest globally. In 2021, taxes on nicotine e-liquids were doubled – they now cost 1,050 won per millilitre.
LATVIA – Permitted.
E-cigarettes may be sold to individuals over 18 years old. The term “electronic smoking device” is used to describe e-cigarettes. Prior notification to the Health Inspectorate is required before a product may be marketed, and compliance with a variety of product requirements, such as on-pack warnings, is required. When a new product is planned for market introduction, it must also be reported to the Health Inspectorate.
E-liquid is taxed at a rate of 0.01 euro per mL and about 0.005 euros per 1 mg of nicotine. There is also a 21 per cent Value Added Tax (VAT) on the retail price.
MALAYSIA – Banned.
Electronic cigarettes are considered medical devices, and nicotine cartridges as medicinal products.
The government has stated that a law regulating tobacco, e-cigarettes, vaping and shisha may be introduced in the first session of the 2022 Parliament.
This will pave the way for comprehensive regulation of conventional tobacco products and new smoking items like a vape that attract younger users.
Furthermore, in 2022, the government intends to impose an excise duty of RM1.20 per millilitre of vape liquids to regulate the sector, on top of the 10% duty on all electronic cigarettes and other smoking devices, including vapes, implemented in 2021.
MALTA – Permitted.
Considered a tobacco product.
E-cigarettes are legal to sell and use, but they are subject to the Tobacco Act. They can’t be advertised, used in places that are restricted to adults over the age of 18, or smoked indoors.
MAURITIUS – Legal to use, illegal to sell
Possibly banned by the Public Health Act:
4. “No person shall sell, offer to sell or distribute – … (f) sweets, snacks, toys or any other object in the form of, or which are likely to create an association with, cigarettes or cigars. “
MEXICO – Unclear
Sale, production, distribution, importation or advertisement of any kind are forbidden because the design is too similar to a tobacco product.
In February 2020, the importation of Electronic Nicotine Administration Systems, electronic cigarettes, and vaporizing devices with comparable purposes was forbidden. On July 16, 2021, the prohibition on importing electric tobacco products was lifted.
NETHERLANDS – Permitted.
Import, sale and use are permitted.
On July 1, 2020, the present indoor smoking ban was broadened to include e-cigarettes with nicotine or non-nicotine liquids. The usage of tobacco products, including heated tobacco products, had already been prohibited. In 2022, a flavour restriction on e-liquids will go into effect, allowing only those with a tobacco flavour.
NEW ZEALAND – Allowed
Vaping goods are controlled in New Zealand by the Smoke-free Environment and Regulated Products Act (the Act), which incorporates most of the existing rules for smoked tobacco goods. Nicotine vaping products are not available to persons under the age of 18, and vapes may not be used in smoke-free areas.
NORWAY – Partial permission: two-tier system.
It’s illegal to sell, offer or distribute E-cigarettes and nicotine-free refills in New Zealand. Nicotine-containing refills are not allowed. All advertising is banned. It is strictly prohibited to sell or supply E-cigarettes or nicotine-free cartridges to persons under the age of 18 years.
E-cigarettes and e-liquid are not restricted, but advertising them is prohibited. The sale of nicotine-containing e-cigarettes or e-liquid is prohibited, although personal importation is allowed.
OMAN – Banned.
It is prohibited to sell e-cigarettes.
PANAMA – Banned.
It is prohibited to import, distribute and sell nicotine e-cigarettes.
POLAND – Permitted.
Import, sale and use are permitted.
E-cigarettes are regulated in Poland by the Polish Anti-Tobacco Act (2016). It is against the law to sell e-cigarettes and e-cigarette accessories to persons under the age of 18. Online purchases are prohibited. Vaping is permitted only where smoking is allowed.
QATAR – Banned.
According to reports, a complete ban is in place.
RUSSIA – Permitted.
Import, sale and use are permitted.
The 2020 ban on high-nicotine liquids in electronic nicotine delivery systems has established a maximum level of 20 mg per 1 ml. However, if the liquid contains no nicotine, it will still be considered a nicotine product. Nicotine vaping devices are now regulated as tobacco products and are prohibited for use by persons under the age of 18 and in non-smoking areas.
SINGAPORE – Banned.
Import, distribution and sale are prohibited.
Section 16 (1) of the Tobacco (Control of Advertisements and Sale) Act, enforced by the Health Sciences Authority (has) prohibits the importation, distribution, sale or offer for sale of any confectionery or other food product or any toy or other article designed to resemble a tobacco product or packaging which is designed to resemble the packaging commonly associated with tobacco products. Fine is of up to $5 000 upon conviction.
SOUTH AFRICA – Partial permission: two-tier system.
E-Cigarettes containing nicotine were classified as a scheduled drug (Schedule 4) by the South African Medicines Control Council. According to the Medicines and Related Substances Act, Schedule 4 drugs can only be purchased at pharmacies with a prescription.
In addition, a new penalty structure for the sale or supply of tobacco and e-cigarette products to a minor introduces fines of up to $20,000 for the first offence and $40,000 for the second and subsequent offences, regardless of whether it is an individual vendor (such as in other cases).
SWEDEN – Permitted
E-liquids are taxed at a rate of 2 000 Swedish kronor per litre of liquid, whereas e-liquid with higher concentration is taxed at 4 000 Swedish kronor per litre. E-liquid with a nicotine content of at least 15 but not exceeding 20 milligrams per millilitre of liquid is defined as high concentrated e-liquid.
TAIWAN – Banned.
Licenses are required for all e-cig-related goods. Some require a pharmaceutical license. There aren’t any licenses available yet.
TAJIKISTAN – Permitted.
Electronic cigarette sale and use are currently unrestricted.
THAILAND – Banned.
Reports say a total ban is in place.
TURKEY – Permitted, with restrictions.
E-cigarettes are categorised as tobacco devices in Turkey. Presidential Decree prohibited the entry of novel tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, regardless of whether they contain nicotine. In Turkey, the manufacture, marketing, and selling of e-cigarettes is not illegal, although no e-cigarette has been licensed to sell yet.
UKRAINE – Permitted, with restrictions.
The use of e-cigs is not permitted in public places.
UNITED ARAB EMIRATES, UAE, including Dubai – Permitted
Trade and sale of e-cigarettes are permitted.
UNITED KINGDOM – Permitted.
Import, sale, advertising and use are permitted. There are some restrictions on advertising.
It’s illegal to sell vaping products or buy them for someone under the age of 18.
UNITED STATES, USA – Permitted.
Import, sale, advertising and use are permitted.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classifies e-cigarettes and other electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) as tobacco products.
The sale, advertising, promotion, distribution, production, importation, packaging and labelling of e-cigarettes that are classified as tobacco goods according to the Tobacco Control Act and the FD&C Act are regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
USDoT – The U.S. Department of Transportation interprets existing federal regulations against smoking on airplanes to apply to e-cigarettes (which is not legal, although it has not been challenged).
USAF – The Air Force said that e-cigarette use would be subject to the same restrictions as tobacco product usage in the Air Force, including bans on usage in places where smoking is not permitted.
URUGUAY – Legal to use, illegal to sell
VENEZUELA – Banned.
The Venezuelan government has threatened penalties of up to $8,400 for individuals who distribute or advertise e-cigarettes since they are prohibited in the country without proper licenses or medical documentation.
Airlines and transport
Every transport company has its own rules that may or may not apply to their own vehicles or planes. Some airlines ban e-cigarettes, while others allow them and provide their own goods during flights.
The US Department of Transportation attempted to launch a prohibition procedure that would have applied to all US airlines, but they quickly withdrew it when it was recognized that the process would be highly difficult (since vaping is not smoking and can’t be termed as such even by clever ‘bending’ of the law). As a result, the status of air carriers in the United States is unclear right now.
Except when compelled to by a court order or similar, government agencies never ever announce the failure of an endeavour. The DoT has failed, but it is unable to disclose this due to restrictions.
The power to grant or revoke permits for specific tasks is usually held by a local authority, such as a state, city, town, or county. In most situations, this would necessitate the approval of the management committee.
While smoking legislation may not be applied to e-cigarette usage (because they are outside the legal definition of smoking), a local authority can employ what are known as Byelaws, which do not require national or federal backing for validity.
A local authority (and this most likely applies worldwide) may restrict any activity in public buildings and usage of its residential property or public spaces it manages. The use of e-cigarettes is one such example. A local authority can usually prevent the sale of a particular category of items within its jurisdiction.
A property owner generally has the legal right to prohibit any particular activity on their property, both indoors and outside, or allow any activity not otherwise prohibited by law.
Because of this, some restaurant and bar owners choose to allow e-cigarette usage, while other bans it.
Employers usually follow the same policy. Some organizations allow or encourage e-cigarette use, while others ban it.
Unfortunately, E-Cigarettes are Illegal In Many Countries
There are over 1 billion smokers worldwide, and e-cigarettes provide an excellent opportunity to cut this figure dramatically. However, many governments, whether for health reasons or tax revenue, continue to legislate against vaping, despite countries such as the UK recognising the public health benefits.
If you’re interested in learning more about e-cigs, check out this post about how to switch to vaping. If you are ready to buy your first device, go to our best vapes review section to read up on the latest products. Also, take time to read our in-depth vaping guides to explain the sometimes confusing world of vaping. All our latest posts can be found on the homepage – Ozvapour.