Where You Can and Can’t Vape in Public

Vaping, or the use of e-cigarettes, has been gaining popularity since 2003; but only recently has it reached peak recognition and acceptance in society. The idea of replacing your typical cigarette with an electronic substitute seemed bizarre to the masses at first, but the pendulum has well and truly swung the other way now. We’re going to look at where you can and can’t vape in public.

Primarily used as a quitting mechanism, vaping has had its fair share of critics. The term ‘popcorn lung’ has recently been thrown around to try and put off potential suitors, whereas stories of e-cigarettes exploding in people’s hands and pockets didn’t help the cause, either. However, what is important to remember is that these occasions are both rare and down to shoddy manufacturing.

What has been a breakthrough in the vaping world is that Cancer Research UK have come out and officially said that the use of e-cigarettes is far less harmful than traditional smoking. For a medical research company to come out in support was a huge helping hand to the industry, meaning those who choose to vape can do so in comfort and without prejudice.

Is Vaping Taken Seriously?

There are those in the UK who genuinely use e-cigarettes as a way of trying to quit from the habit of traditional smoking. Yet there is a certain demographic who see it as more of a fashion accessory or just the latest trend. This had led to ‘vapers’ getting a somewhat hostile reputation, being looked upon as obnoxious or irritating.

Depending on what type of e-cigarette you have, the cloud size can differentiate. The more powerful the mod box (the base of the e-cig) the larger the cloud you exhale. There are other things that come in to play too, like the type of e-liquid and use of a coil. There are lots of people who take up vaping purely for this reason – they are called cloud chasers. Cloud chasing is the art of creating extravagant clouds of vapour that can be manipulated into shapes and all sorts of other crazy things.

In the privacy of your own home, or in a competitive/shared vaping environment, this isn’t an issue. Extravagant vaping in public, however, can be seen as a bit of a pest for some. The true source and reasoning of switching from cigarettes to vaping will always be prominent – it is there to help those who want to quit. So to round up, yes, absolutely, vaping is and should be taken seriously.

What are the Laws in the UK?

Due to the popularity of e-cigarettes in the UK, the Government were forced to open their eyes and think about implementing legislation surrounding the industry. For example, the distribution and selling of the old 100ml bottles are no longer permitted, instead restricting the size to 10ml. The legal sale of e-cigarette tanks has also lowered from 10ml to 2ml.

What can be seen as a grey area is who, exactly, is allowed to vape. Although it is legal for somebody under the age of 18 to smoke an e-cigarette, it is illegal to sell such products to somebody of the same demographic. This is due to the fact that at the end of the day, it is the sale of a nicotine related product.

This is where the area turns a darker shade of grey. It is legal for someone under the age of 18 to vape, but illegal for them to purchase any vaping materials; which of course means it is also illegal to sell those materials to an under-18. So, by proxy, someone over the age of 18 must buy the products necessary for someone under the age of 18 to vape. If those products and materials come into the hands of an under 18-year-old without the process of a sale – this is legal.

Further work is continuing on in the government’s attempt to research and establish more legislation, which may perhaps clear up some of these grey areas in the future. Saying that, the exact same grey areas still exist in the tobacco industry. It is not illegal for a minor to smoke, but it is illegal for them to purchase cigarettes.

Where Can You Vape in Public?

So now we’ve tackled the ins and outs of vaping, it’s time to get to the nitty gritty of where exactly we can vape. Since the 1st July 2007, it has been illegal in the UK to smoke cigarettes indoors, but does vaping come under the same blanket?

The simple answer is: it does and it doesn’t. So not so simple really. Companies are free to set their own policies where e-cigarettes are concerned, although they tend to follow the same pattern. Because of the backlash it would have from those who still choose to smoke cigarettes, vaping tends to be restricted to outdoors in the workplace. This does, however, depend on your place of work and how relaxed they are with the whole thing.

Vaping is not as restricted in your social every-day life. Some pubs, for example, will allow the use of a vaporiser indoors, as do many clubs and public parks. Public transport, on the other hand, are much more obliged to apply the ‘one rule for all’ concept. So do not expect to be able to vape on a bus, train, aeroplane or inside a public taxi.

It goes without saying that vaping in hospitals, doctor’s surgeries and dentists is generally not allowed. Not unless you want to brave the wrath of a very angry and disappointed nurse! In general, if you are out and about and you notice there is a ‘no smoking’ sign, it is wise to assume this goes for everyone. Unfortunately, ‘vaping allowed’ or ‘no vaping’ signs are not as common or as necessary as ‘no smoking’ signs, primarily for health and safety reasons, so it’s not as if you can look out for one of those.

The golden rule: If you are outdoors you can vape to your heart’s content. If indoors and in public, just ask permission from whoever owns/runs the building or, if applicable, ask a member of staff.

Is it Fair to Penalise Vapers?

The debate of vapers vs smokers is one that will last a lifetime, unless everybody starts singing from the same hymn sheet. Do vapers deserve the right to smoke indoors at the expense of those who don’t? It has to be asked that if companies decide to allow the use of e-cigarettes indoors, will it persuade those who are on the fence about vaping to switch allegiances. Only time will tell.

Either way, one party will feel hard done by. Vapers feel as if they are being penalised for making the healthier change by grouping them in the same company of tobacco smokers; whereas smokers will feel aggrieved if vapers are allowed to smoke indoors. Why should they get wet in the rain when vapers get to put their feet up inside?

This is why public transport (train, bus, coach, and tram) companies currently enforce the ban of both traditional smoking and vaping. It’s much easier and fairer to blanket ban rather than pick and choose.

Will Things Change?

Recently, there have been calls from medical professionals and MP’s to relax the rules on vaping in public, as they firmly believe it doesn’t cause any harm to those around. Due to the fact that there are no harmful chemicals and every vaping product is stringently regulated and tested, it poses no risk to be around second hand e-cigarette smoke.

The opposing argument is to those who have respiratory conditions such as asthma, as they of course have the right to be in a smoke-free environment, especially whilst using public transport.

One thing is for sure, if the UK Government truly want to head towards a cigarette-free country and lower smoking related deaths, a better and healthier alternative must be created and regulated.

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