Regulations on the sale, import and advertisement of e-cigarettes and other vaping related products vary in different countries across the globe.
In this article, I will take a look at some examples of how different things are in different countries compared to the UK, as well as looking at what regulations the UK have in place and if anything should be changed or to be bought in by our government.
Vaping & Regulations in the United Kingdom
The United Kingdom is the world’s second biggest market for vaping products, only behind the United States by a small margin. Public Health England aren’t shy with their support of using e-cigarettes for the harm reduction potential it carries, and if anything was to change with the regulations, it would likely only be positive changes to support people wanting to quit smoking.
If you are a vaper and have been for a while, you will be aware of the Tobacco Products Directive bought in by the government in May 2016 that not only applies to the UK but also to many countries within the European Union.
These regulations were put in place in an attempt to control the sales of tobacco related products and regulate e cigarettes and the associated products and this was then also extended to apply to all vaping products, such as vape juice bottles, tanks and nicotine content within vape liquid.
Whilst the attempts to regulate e-cigarettes have been effective, companies have found loopholes around them, all of which are perfectly legal and above board, to still give vapers what they were accustomed to prior to these changes.
Compared to regulations in other countries which I will discuss further in this article, I’d say the regulations on e-cigarettes within the UK are fairly reasonable.
Vaping & Regulations in the United States
Regulations on e-cigarettes and e-liquids in the United States are a bit of a minefield as regulations are enforced at a federal level, but each state are free to enforce their own regulations on e-cigarettes and e liquids if they are not stricter than the federal regulations.
The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) announced its intention to regulate the e cigarette market within the USA in 2016, around the same time that TPD was introduced in the UK.
I won’t go into the regulations of every state as we could be here a while, but I’ll just highlight some key points of how it varies.
Only 17 of the 50 states of America have the same regulations as the federal ones laid out by the FDA. Some states apply higher tax on vaping products, District of Columbia & Vancouver tax their products at wholesale at an eye watering 92%!
Some states will add on a specific tax per ml, as well as single cartridges and pods have a separate tax put on to them.
The biggest stand out regulations by some states is the banning of flavours of vape juice other than tobacco. This applies to New Jersey, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. All three of these states also raised the legal age of smoking and vaping to 21 also to try and put a stop to the number of young people smoking/vaping.
Vaping & Regulations in the Middle East
As with the United States, regulations on e-cigarettes are somewhat of a minefield in countries in the middle east, with e cigarette regulations varying from country to country.
Egypt, Iran and Turkey all share the same restrictions on the importation, advertising and sale of e-cigarettes and vaping products. The act of vaping is not illegal within the countries, but it is completely illegal to buy vaping products.
Saudi Arabia and Israel are different from the above three on the basis it is completely legal to purchase vaping products, where the minimum age for purchase is 18 years or older. The only regulation they have enforced is all vaping and tobacco products must be sold in plain brown coloured packaging, similar to that of cigarette packets here in the UK.
Turkey is the stand out country here for e-cigarette regulations and their views on the use of e cigarettes. Where most governments and public health sectors believe vaping carries minimal risk and support it, the Turkish prime minister and their health ministry believe vaping is harmful to peoples health and the chance of any regulations changing any time soon is slim to none.
The fact Turkey sells 118 billion traditional cigarettes as well as menthol cigarettes every year has nothing to do with the government shooting down the positive effects of vaping I’m sure…
Vaping & Regulations in Asia
Regulations vary from country to country in Asia, with some regulations surrounding e cigarettes very relaxed compared to some countries where it is not only illegal to sell ecigarettes but also illegal to use them.
If you weren’t already aware, China are the biggest e cigarette manufacturers and pretty much produces and manufactures almost all vaping products sold on the market globally and the e-cigarette itself was created in China.
Despite being the worlds primary source of vape devices and most other vaping products, vaping actually wasn’t a big thing in China until recently. And due to it mainly being used for export, the Chinese vaping industry was largely unregulated and up until recently, there wasn’t actually a law on the sale of e-cigarettes to minors! It is now reported that China are working on an e-cigarette regulation to stop the sale of e cigarette products to underage users and for e cigarettes and associated products to be sold in specialised vape shops.
India has regulations in place that prohibit the sale, advertisement and importation of vaping products as of 2019. However, traditional cigarette sales are at an all-time high in India as well as smokeless tobacco which appears to be all the rage in India, but it’s also killing people at an alarming rate. Being the biggest cause of oral cancer within the country, its reported that this kills up to 5 people every single day in India.
In Japan, heated tobacco products and vaping devices are a lot more popular than a traditional vaping device. This is down to the fact that Japan does not allow the sale of vape juice containing nicotine at a retail level and is only obtainable from a chemist with a valid prescription.
Now crossing over to Singapore and Thailand, these are the countries where vaping is fully illegal, and the use of e-cigarettes can get a person a hefty fine or instant imprisonment or deportation if you are not a resident. These countries banned e cigarettes in an attempt to continue the high revenue gained from the sale of tobacco products.
With these strict regulations, the black market of selling vaping products has boomed in these countries and it’s been reported that over £500,000 of illegally imported e cigarettes and e liquids have been seized since 2019.
Vaping & Regulations in Oceania
Oceania covers Australia and New Zealand, and the regulations on e-cigarettes between the two countries vary quite a lot depending on the province.
Australia is probably the most complex when it comes to regulations, and I will do my best to explain it as simply as possible.
Australia classes nicotine as a poison under its controlled substance laws, so getting hold of vape juice that contains it is near impossible unless you go down the correct channels. To purchase vape juice that contains nicotine, you must have a valid prescription given by a doctor to take into a pharmacy and obtain vape juice with nicotine. This vape juice is made to order and pharmacies do not carry a large selection of flavours so the choices are quite narrow.
It’s not as simple as getting a prescription and taking it to a pharmacy though as a lot of doctor’s aren’t very forthcoming with issuing prescriptions.
You can readily buy vaping products such as vape kits and nicotine free vape juice from vape retailers as these are not affected by any regulations.
New Zealand is quite different to Australia when it comes to regulations, as the NZ government believe in harm reduction potential by using e cigarettes. They aim to make vaping as appealable and affordable to adult smokers wanting to make the change, whilst deterring young people from wanting to start.
However, as of 2021, New Zealand imposed a partial flavour ban on vape juice. Traditional retailers can only sell vape juice that are either tobacco or mint/menthol flavours. These restrictions do not apply to speciality vape shops who can freely sell other flavours of vape juice.
Looking over the regulations from across the globe, I find it fascinating how it varies from country to country in regards to vaping bans, with some regulations being pretty standard and lenient, compared to other countries where use an e cigarettes or buying vape juice can land you serving time in prison.
The regulations in the UK came as a shock to vapers, and it took a lot of people a while to get used to, and even now some cry out for regulations to be reviewed to relax or abolish some of them. But in reality, when looking at other countries regulations, I don’t think we have it to bad here in the UK