Can you vape in public places?

By Neil Goddard

woman vaping in a restaurant

It’s been ten years since vaping was introduced in the UK, and since then it has become one of the most popular alternatives to smoking. 3.6 million people now use e-cigarettes in the UK.1 But there is a lot of confusion around where people are and aren’t allowed to vape. While there are strict laws restricting where conventional cigarettes can be smoked, these laws don’t apply to e-cigarettes.

Can you vape in outdoor public places?

There are no specific laws in place banning vaping outdoors. Vaping outdoors, much like smoking conventional cigarettes, is generally permitted in public places like streets and parks. But there are some outdoor areas where smoking and vaping is not permitted – outside the entrance to hospitals and on train station platforms are two examples.
Unlike conventional cigarette smoke, there is currently no evidence of harm from second-hand e-cigarette vapour and the risks are likely to be low.2 However, in some cases the owner of the outdoor space may have put rules in place in consideration of the safety and comfort of others. It is recommended to check with staff first before vaping in any privately-owned public space.

Can you vape in indoor public places?

The indoor smoking ban of 2007 prohibits the smoking of tobacco or tobacco products in any enclosed public space. Although there are no specific laws against vaping indoors, most privately-owned public places have their own restrictions in place.

Public transport

Most forms of public transport ban vaping onboard, including trains, buses and planes.

Workplaces and offices

Vaping at work is another area where there is uncertainty, as industries and workplaces may have differing rules and restrictions in place.
Read our guide to vaping at work to learn more.

Pubs, bars and restaurants

Most pubs, bars and restaurants restrict vaping indoors for the comfort of guests. However, there are some pubs and bars that allow vaping indoors. If you’re unsure it is recommended to ask a member of staff before vaping inside a pub or bar.
Read our guide to vaping in pubs for more detailed information.

Using heated tobacco in public places

Heated tobacco products like IQOS are relatively new in the UK. Because the tobacco is heated but not burned as it is in conventional tobacco products such as cigarettes and cigars, heated tobacco does not fall under the indoor smoking ban. Instead, users should follow the same guidance as vaping in public and always ask beforehand.


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