Smoking has been banned in enclosed public spaces and workplaces, on public transport and in vehicles used for work under the Health Act 2006, as there is conclusive scientific evidence that bystanders can be caused direct health harm through inhaling secondhand smoke.
However, vaping does not fall under smoke-free legislation. An independent review of Public Health England’s 2014 independent evidence review confirmed the findings that there is no evidence of harm to bystanders from the inhalation of vaping vapour, and the risks associated with inhaling secondhand vapour are likely to be exceedingly low.
Can you vape indoors?
There is currently no law to prohibit the use of vape devices in public or indoor spaces in the UK. Instead, the banning of vaping falls on the owner of the facilities to impose their own restrictions.
This means that, by law, there is no ban on vaping indoors. However, in practice, there are few day-to-day facilities that allow its use. Therefore, it is vital that you undertake research of the venue before vaping, or ask an appropriate member of staff if it is permissible. It should also be considered that the type of device you are using can make a big difference – larger mods with high power for sub-ohm vaping produce far bigger clouds, and will almost always be inappropriate to use indoors anywhere that isn’t your own property – smaller devices that produce less vapour like the EDGE GO or Pro are generally more discreet.
Updates to policy-making in the UK are pending review, and based on a number of new initiatives, such as making a clear distinction between vaping and smoking. Furthermore, policies on vaping are building upon the knowledge and efficacy of cigarette bans, and the distinction between the effects of e-cigarette vapour and cigarette smoke are foundations for the banning - or lack thereof - of vaping indoors.
Where can you vape?
The blanket rule is that vaping in public spaces is allowed. However, as you will see below, in practice there are few private facilities where vaping is permitted.
Unlike smoking, there is no comprehensive ban on vaping in pubs and restaurants. However, many of the UK’s most popular chain restaurants have banned vaping use indoors. You should therefore check with the premises whether vaping is allowed, or if there is a designated vaping area.
A consideration for policy development put forward by Public Health England in 2016 was that it is never acceptable to require vapers to share the same outdoor space with smokers. As such, be it in pub gardens or at the workplace, where there is a designated smoking area, vapers should be permitted to vape elsewhere.
Under current law, vaping on a train is not illegal. However, most train companies have banned it. Prior to 2015, it was permissible to vape on a number of train lines and on train platforms - but bans have accumulated across the country, meaning that there are now no train companies that allow it. You should always check with the train line before attempting to vape, and with the operating train platform to see if it is allowed in the vicinity of the train platform.
Similarly, most bus and coach operators have banned vaping on their transport services - but not all - so check on the company’s website or with a member of staff before using your vape onboard.
You are also allowed to vape while driving, as long as the vapour you create does not hamper your visibility of the road. If it is found that you used your vape in a manner that impaired your vision, you may be penalised for not being in control of your vehicle. Such penalisations could lead to a £2,500 fine and nine points on your licence. If you want to vape inside your vehicle, you should open your window or use a vape device that produces less vapour.
Where can you not vape?
There are some facilities that have outright banned vaping; all UK airports do not allow its use indoors or on planes. If you are looking to vape, you will need to do so outdoors, in the same designated area as smoking. Unfortunately, there is currently little done to accommodate vapers in a segregated area to smokers - but some places have made strives to do so. Heathrow airport, for example, has a designated vaping lounge in Terminal 4.
As above, the law says that you can vape in public spaces, but it is up to the discretion of the facilities to impose bans. As such, you will find that you will generally not be allowed to vape in:
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