August is here, and that means everyone’s gearing up for a fortnight of fun and sunshine in… Belgium? That’s right, for some reason Brits are more likely to head to Brussels and Berlin than a host of sun-soaked destinations. And they want to take their vapes with them.
If you’re planning a holiday to one of Britain’s ten favourite foreign holiday hotspots, you’ll need to brush up on the local regulations. While Saudi Arabia, Singapore and Thailand (where vapes are totally illegal and can land you in prison) doesn’t appear on the list, it’s still worth knowing the local laws before you head to Spain, Portugal, or the US of A.
So let’s look at where you’re going and what you need to know.
The UK Holidaymaker’s Ten Favourite Destinations
According to the Economist, UK holidaymakers are sticking close to home, with most of us spending a long weekend or a few weeks with our European neighbors. But even though the EU has regulations about vaping, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t local laws to take into account.
Here’s what you need to know.
EU-Wide Vaping Laws
In the EU, all e-cigarette and vaping products, from your vape pen through to your favorite bubblegum eliquid are classified as tobacco products. That means they’re covered by the TPD regulation that’s led to shrinking bottle sizes and murmurings about tank capacity.
But that’s more to do with selling vaping products.
When it comes to using them, all the EU really has to say is that you need to be an adult to buy them, and that you can’t do it in public buildings. So when you’re touring a French palace, don’t start producing huge clouds.
But where the EU directives stop, local laws sometimes come into play. Let’s continue.
EU Country Specific Vaping Laws
Nine of that top ten list are EU countries. Along with the TPD rules affecting sellers, you’ll need to bear in mind the following:
Spain – a royal decree has made it very difficult to buy electronic cigarettes, and they shouldn’t be used anywhere you can’t smoke tobacco – such as restaurants and bars. Stock up on eliquids for your trip.
France – despite being a country famous for smoking incredibly strong tobacco, France isn’t keen on vaping in public. Vape in a school, on public transport, or in a workplace (although why you’d be there on holiday is beyond us) and you’re getting a 150 Euro fine. That also applies in some bars, so ask nicely before you start. You’ll get extra credit for asking in French.
“Excusez-moi, puis-je vapoter ici?”
Italy – Vape shops are heavily taxed, but you’re fine to vape anywhere you could smoke tobacco.
Portugal – Much like Italy, Portugal is taxing vaping very heavily, but that’s exactly how Portugal treat most recreational substances.
Greece – Good luck finding a vape shop on a Greek island, so drop a few extra bottles into your suitcase. Otherwise, Greek vaping laws are very similar to the UK’s in that where you can vape is usually down to bar owners or hoteliers.
Netherlands – You can vape in Holland. Given what you can smoke in Holland, this shouldn’t come as a surprise.
Ireland – You won’t see a difference in vaping laws between the UK and the Republic of Ireland, so do what you’d normally do.
Germany – As with Ireland and the UK, where you can and can’t vape is down to the TPD regulations (no vaping on trains) and the personal preferences of business owners. If you wouldn’t vape somewhere at home, don’t vape in that kind of place in Germany.
Belgium – Belgium’s very smoker friendly, so vaping is a very niche hobby. Again, you can vape wherever you can smoke, but actually finding supplies might be difficult while you’re away.
And as for the only non-EU country on the list? That’s the good ol’ United States.
First things first, the biggest draw for Brits heading to the USA is of course Disneyland. And they’re pretty clear. If you want to vape, you do it in the clearly marked smoking areas.
Outside Disneyland, America can be confusing for travelers. Some states have a blanket ban on vaping indoors, some leave everything to business owners to decide, and some states couldn’t care less.
Wikipedia has a full list of local vaping laws in the US, but if you’re only worried about a full indoor ban, then these are the states to avoid:
- California (where you also can’t vape on the beach or in the park)
- Hawaii (who won’t sell eliquids to under 21s)
- New Jersey
- New York
- North Dakota
- Utah (except in designated hotel rooms and Native American cultural ceremonies)
In all of those states, you can still buy electronic cigarettes and eliquids, and the US vape scene is the world’s most vibrant and exciting.
But wherever you go, remember that you’re a guest, and you should only vape where you’re allowed to. If you follow the local rules, you’ll be fine.