Vaping on holiday? Here’s the rules for each country after World Health Organization calls for global ban

In many countries governments allow vapes but regulate their use

Rich Booth
Tuesday 12 March 2024 12:20 GMT
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<p>A woman holds an e-cigarette as she vapes on a street in Manchester</p>

A woman holds an e-cigarette as she vapes on a street in Manchester

The World Health Organization (WHO) has stepped in to urge governments across the globe to treat vaping similarly to tobacco and ban all flavours.

Vapes are banned in 34 countries, the WHO said in a report last year, including Brazil, India, Iran and Thailand. But many countries struggle to enforce e-cigarette rules, meaning they are often available on the black market.

The ban, if put in place, could spell trouble for some big tobacco companies, which have bet on a shift to cigarette alternatives.

Seventy-four countries, mostly in Africa but also including Pakistan, Colombia and Mongolia, did not regulate e-cigarettes at all, according to the WHO report.

In other nations, including key markets like the US and China, governments allow vapes but regulate their use.

Here’s how country’s across the world measure up on vaping:

Australia

Australians need a prescription to use nicotine-containing e-cigarettes, but the country has struggled with a flood of illegal disposable vapes. It has been illegal to import disposables into Australia since January 1.

A man vapes on a street in Manchester

From March, it will also be illegal to import any type of vape not approved as “therapeutic” by the Australian medical regulator, the Therapeutic Goods Administration, the government says.

It also wants to introduce a bill next year to outlaw domestic manufacturing or supply of non-therapeutic e-cigarettes.

China

The world’s largest producer of e-cigarettes introduced a raft of laws controlling their use domestically in 2021, including banning the flavoured products many Chinese manufacturers continue to send overseas.

The government has cited health concerns related to youth vaping.

E-cigarette companies require a licence to sell to consumers, and the country introduced taxes on production, import and wholesale distribution in 2022.

EU and members

The European Commission has set regulatory standards for e-cigarettes, including limits on nicotine content and labels explaining they should not be used by non-smokers. Manufacturers must register with the government before selling.

National governments have also introduced laws governing their use. In France people under the age of 18 cannot buy vapes, and their use is banned in certain public places, including universities and on public transport.

Italy lifted a ban on using electronic cigarettes in public in 2013. Use in or near schools is still forbidden.

Disposable vapes have attracted particular attention from lawmakers in some EU countries amid environmental and health concerns. France has moved to ban them entirely.

The German Federal Council, the upper house of parliament, has called on the government to push for a similar ban on disposable vapes across the EU.

Japan

E-cigarettes containing nicotine count as medicinal products under Japanese law. None has yet been approved for use.

Russia

Minors cannot buy e-cigarettes. There are no restrictions on flavours or disposable vapes.

Local media reported in November that the government had quashed a proposed ban on e-cigarettes. The Russian Ministry of Health said this would lead to loss of tax revenue and fuel a black market, Izvestia reported.

The UK is ‘sharing lessons’ on vaping with Australia, Health Secretary Steve Barclay said (PA)

Turkey

The sale of e-cigarettes is effectively banned, since imports are allowed only in small quantities and production is forbidden. E-cigarettes are nevertheless widely available.

America

E-cigarette manufacturers in the world’s largest market for nicotine alternatives must get authorisation from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to sell their products legally.

Some have been allowed on the market while they wait for the agency to review their applications.

The FDA considers several factors while weighing an application, including the potential benefits for helping smokers quit. It has yet to approve a vape flavour other than tobacco.

However, poor enforcement means that flavoured, often disposable products remain widely available.

UK

The United Kingdom has put vapes at the centre of its public health policy, even offering starter kits to smokers to help them quit. However, an influx of flavoured disposable vapes has driven concerns around the environment, health and youth vaping.

The government said at the end of January it would ban disposable vapes and introduce powers to regulate e-cigarette flavours and packaging, following a threefold rise in the number of children vaping in the past three years.

In March the government said it would introduce an extra tax on vaping products from October 2026.

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