A comprehensive listing of electronic cigarette legal status, country by country: these pages list ecigarette laws worldwide and are a good overview of global ecigarette regulations. There are links to government and community resources that will help you determine the current situation in any country listed. We invite updates, and data for any unlisted country.
Note that there are often differences between published government policy and the actual situation, and between commercial and private imports.
Global e-cigarette laws, countries A - I
Global e-cigarette laws, countries J - Z
Airlines and transport
Information on this page may not be current, please check with appropriate government agencies and community sources if you need reliable up-to-date facts.
We very much appreciate country-specific updates – please use our Contact page. Please include:
- General info
- A link to a government web page about the situation, if possible
- A link to the vapers' association website, if possible
- A link to the local vapers' Facebook page if existing (usually good for news, updates and quick info exchange)
Purpose of use
E-Cigarettes and refills are smoke-free, tobacco-free consumer products sold as and used for replacement of smoking, as a consumer alternative. They are designed and used as a THR product: a tobacco harm reduction product.
They are neither a tobacco product (as any nicotine content, if used, could come from any suitable vegetable source or be synthesised) nor a pharmaceutical product (as there is no intention to treat or cure a disease), or designed to assist smoking cessation (as Harm Reduction products are specifically designed for continuation of use). E-Cigarettes are strictly a consumer purchase, used as an alternative to tobacco cigarettes, for ongoing use. No intention to treat or cease a nicotine or inhalation habit is assumed by purchasing such a product; it is designed and sold specifically for continuation of such use. If people reduce or cease nicotine consumption by use of an ecig, or cease usage entirely, it is incidental to the primary purpose of the product, which is as a reduced-harm substitute for smoking.
Pharmaceutical licensing / bans
No medical licenses have been issued in any country for any e-cigarette or nicotine-containing refill (at Q2 2015), so where medical licenses and prescriptions are said to be required, a ban is in place . A 'license' is a pharmaceutical license, also known as an MA or market authorisation to sell a product as a licensed medicinal product. We refer to a requirement for a license as a ban because it is, in practice, a de facto ban: the MHRA in the UK has confirmed that no product currently on the market would be capable of receiving a license, and this means that a new type of 'e-cigarette' will need to be invented before an MA application will succeed.
No e-cigarette product currently has a license; it would take a minimum of 3 years to obtain one, once a new type has been invented that will satisfy licensing requirements; it will cost millions; a license only covers one single product although many vendors have hundreds if not thousands of products; licensing would remove all products from the market, and after several years, it is likely that around 0.001% of the number of current products may be available; such products would cost much more than they do now, in order to pay for the cost of the development and licensing, and because they would have a monopoly in the legal market; and only large tobacco or pharmaceutical companies could offer such a product.
 Where an MA has been obtained, at Q2 2015, the product may be called 'an e-cigarette' but is a medical inhaler that does not employ ecig technology.
There is a difference between personal import and commercial import, and this applies in almost every country. For example in a country where e-cigarette or nicotine refill import is banned, it is usually the case that this applies to commercial imports through Customs. Personal packages via the postal service are often not affected.
The two-tier system
Many countries operate a two-tier system: nicotine and non-nicotine products.
- The hardware does not contain nicotine and is permitted.
- Refills without nicotine are permitted.
- Refills with nicotine (or units sold pre-filled with a nicotine-containing refill) require a medical license. For practical reasons this is a de facto ban on any useful or effective refills.
Usually, the black market fills in for supply of these, or e-cigarette owners would generally be forced to go back to smoking.
The latest information for practical purposes can be obtained from community members or vendors on the appropriate forums, national consumer association websites, or trade association websites. Facebook groups are useful for immediate advice:
Vapers Network – FB page:
Good general news, updates, advice and assistance.
The legal status information on this page was originally compiled by Vapers Network. Our thanks and appreciation go to their members.
CASAA – FB page:
The US consumer association. Advocacy and US State legal specialists; comprehensive resources on their website.
ECCA UK – FB page:
The UK consumer association.
Johns Hopkins global ecig laws PDF:
ARGENTINA - Banned.
Resolution 3226/2011 bans the importation, distribution, commercialisation and advertising of e-cigarettes and ancillaries.
AUSTRALIA – Partial permission: two-tier system.
Permitted, if without nicotine.
Poisons legislation only applies to the sale of refills or cartridges containing nicotine. There are currently no laws restricting the sale or promotion of hardware or zero-nic refills.
No laws prevent the personal importation of nicotine solution for personal or immediate family use only (2012).
There are reports that all ecig sales are banned in Queensland and Western Australia. We would appreciate links to government / community resources on this.
AUSTRIA - Banned.
Electronic cigarettes are considered medical devices and nicotine cartridges as medicinal products. Nicotine cartridges may not be sold without a license.
BELGIUM - Partial permission: two-tier system.
Permitted, if without nicotine.
Medical licensing only applies to the sale of refills or cartridges containing nicotine. There are currently no laws restricting the sale or promotion of hardware or zero-nic refills. Nicotine-containing devices or refills are banned (they require an MA).
Personal import of refills with nicotine is legal if it is: 1) for personal use; and 2) sold by a vendor located in a EU country where sale of refills with nicotine is allowed (due to EU 'free movement of goods').
Vaping is prohibited where smoking is prohibited: within indoor public places.
Note: there are few vape shops in Belgium because they cannot sell nic refills, so customers must buy abroad; as they often buy their hardware at the same time, this reduces potential trade for the Belgian shops.
Vapers' association of Belgium: www.abvd.be
BRAZIL - Banned.
Regulated as tobacco products. Import, sale and marketing are prohibited.
BRUNEI - Banned.
Sale prohibited because it is an imitation of a tobacco product; a fine of $10,000 can be imposed.
CANADA - Unclear.
Canada is attempting to implement a two-tier system but appears not to have the legal foundation on which to take action.
Hardware and zero-nic refills are permitted. Health Canada attempts to prevent sales of nicotine-containing refills (and imports), but this update from Paul Bergen suggests that there is no legal basis for such action:
E-Cigarettes are NOT banned in Canada
HC says: "E-cigarettes may not be imported, advertised or sold."
In practice it appears that sales of the hardware are allowed, zero-nic refills are allowed; and nicotine refills are not prohibited by any law; but HC is bullying vendors to try and prevent nic refills from being sold. It is reported that vendors who refuse to submit to illegal threats cannot be prosecuted, since there is no law applicable. In this climate various difficulties will be experienced, but a prosecution does not seem likely.
CHINA – Permitted; but subject to variability by region.
Sale and use of e-cigarettes is legal, in theory.
Other reports say that there may be issues, perhaps regionally.
COLOMBIA - Banned.
COSTA RICA - Permitted.
Import, sale and use is permitted, regulated as a tobacco product.
Importation requires a special declaration (but no special license).
Sale is regulated as tobacco: behind the counter, all transactions must verify age (adults - over 18 only).
No advertising allowed.
Use is restricted in public places.
No regulation of nicotine strength or flavours.
Advertising: public advertising is strictly forbidden; however, Article 18 allows for some flexibility in adult-only establishments which have not been declared "areas 100% smoke-free". This flexibility would only apply to private venues - such as a private house or a private, members-only club.
Web sales: interpretation (no case law or enforcement action as yet) is that they are allowed only if the buyer's age is known (because the age of the buyer must be determined):
Article 23, incise A): It is completely forbidden to sell to the consumer via telephone, digital, electronic, internet, mail, or other methods including ambulant sales where it is not possible to verify, clearly and at the opportune moment, the age of the buyer.
(Some web vendors attempt to verify age by requiring an ID card, others ignore the law.)
Links to the law (in Spanish) -
Law # 9028 (approved by Assemblea Legislativa):
Executive Decree expanding the law (clarifications on permitted smoking areas, advertisements, expanded to include hookahs, water pipes, and e-cigarettes that include nicotine), 2012:
CZECH REPUBLIC - Permitted.
Electronic cigarette import, sale, use and marketing are unrestricted.
DENMARK - Partial permission: two-tier system.
Permitted, if without nicotine.
Medical licensing only applies to the sale of refills or cartridges containing nicotine. There are currently no laws restricting the sale or promotion of hardware or zero-nic refills. Nicotine-containing devices or refills are banned (they require an MA):
http://lmst.dk/en/topics/authorisation-and-supervision/medicines-and-other-products/special-classifications/electronic-cigarettes (Q2 2013)
Here is a typical Danish ecig website and store location list:
[please note: we only included this because a correspondent insisted that ecigs are banned in DK, therefore we had to demonstrate (a) that there is a 2-tier system, and (b) that many ecig shops can be found.]
ESTONIA - Permitted.
A state pharmaceutical agency ban on e-cigarettes has been overturned in court, on 7th March 2013, in litigation brought by E-Lites. The agency now has to remove the ban since they missed the appeal date.
The Estonian State Agency of Medicines had banned ecigs but was ordered by the Tartu District Court to remove the ban. This decision is in respect of the E-Lites brand, but as in other countries will in effect apply to all ecigs, as costs have been awarded against the Agency, and since further bans would attract more awards of costs against them.
The government had until 7th April 2013 to contest the decision but missed the deadline, therefore e-cigarette import, sale and use are permitted in Estonia by order of the court.
EUROPEAN UNION, EU - Permitted.
Import, sale, use and advertising is permitted.
At March 2014: it appears that the new TPD (see below) will implement a range of restrictions, that, depending on how they are interpreted, could mean a ban on all current hardware, all refills over 20mg strength, all advertising, and international (but not within-country) web sales. Such restrictions will be in place by 2016 although earlier is a possibility (and a probability in some countries).
Currently, at Q1 2014, individual countries have their own regulations. One vendor tells us: "In practice only three EU countries are problem-free for import for us: UK, Germany, Italy" (note this refers to commercial imports for vendors). We think this may be a slight exaggeration as for example Holland and Czech Republic are (in theory) unrestricted. Many vendors say postal supplies to customers are hardly ever problematic.
The EU, in Q2 2013, attempted to implement a two-tier system with additional restrictions based on a tobacco product classification (perhaps describable as a three-tier system, as they tried to impose medical licensing on some products and tobacco classification on some/all others). This failed as medicalisation was rejected by vote in the EU Parliament.
EU law is superior to national law within the 28 countries. An EU directive must be transposed into individual national law before it can be implemented in any given country. This can take two years though it may be pushed through more quickly. Below, we have left the time-related commentary at each stage, as a reference. Please scroll down to the final update, to see the current situation.
Directive 2001/95/EC(6) on general product safety applies in so far as there are no specific provisions with the same objective in other EC law. This directive provides for restrictive or preventive measures to be taken if the product is found to be dangerous to the health and safety of consumers. Whether e-cigarettes could be regarded as falling under Directive 93/42/EEC on medical devices depends on the claimed intended use and whether this intended use has a medical purpose. ”It is for each national authority to decide, account being taken of all the characteristics of the product, whether it falls within the definition of a medicinal product by its function or presentation.“
Results of enforcement of The General Product Safety Directive (GPSD) can be seen by going to this link and searching for 'nicotine' or 'electronic cigarettes':
Electronic cigarettes may fall under the definition of a medicinal product laid down in Directive 2001/83/EC, either if the product is presented as a remedy against nicotine addiction or if it is qualified as restoring, correcting or modifying physiological functions.
The EU Tobacco Products Directive
[this material is historical - scroll to the end for the latest situation]
The TPD covers all tobacco and related products. Currently being revised, at Q1 2013 it appeared that in addition to continuation of the Snus ban (except within Sweden, which has a derogation - an exemption), it will include a ban on nicotine-containing refills of over 4mg/ml (0.4%). This is lower than the lowest retail strength of 6mg/ml (retail e-liquid is available from 6mg/ml to 45mg/ml), so in effect is a ban on usable refills. This ban is by virtue of the refills being classed as a pharmaceutical. The EU Health Directorate, who are responsible for the TPD, appear to have decided that a blanket ban on the hardware could not be supported at law (as all five legal challenges to government bans [at that date] have so far succeeded in court [USA, Holland, Germany x2 States, Estonia] and this route is likely to fail), but that nicotine-containing liquids may be easier to ban.
However the latest opinion we hear is that if the new TPD includes the ecig refill ban, it will fail at law: a challenge in the ECJ is likely to succeed in overturning it. This is because it violates three principles of EU law, and because there is also supporting case law: the ECJ have already overturned an unjustified attempt by the pharmaceutical industry to ban a consumer product of a similar nature. The courts, it seems, invariably side with the citizens against governments and their pharmaceutical industry clients. In addition the JURI committee, the EU's law committee, also believe the medicalising of ecigs created by the TPD will fail at law.
The new TPD will need to pass two votes: the Council of Ministers (here, the Health Ministers for the 28 EU countries) and the EU Parliament. We expect the Ministers to support the TPD since they generally act to support the pharmaceutical industry, who like the cigarette trade are the main beneficiaries of such a ban (in addition to governments, who would lose tobacco tax revenue if e-cigarettes replace tobacco cigarettes); but many MEPs will vote against the new TPD in the EU Parliament because of increased awareness of its immensely damaging effect on public health. The timescale is not known at this time, but originally it was said that the process will not complete before 2014 or even 2015. Some EU insiders, though, say that the process may be pushed hard by those who stand to benefit, in order to complete before the end of the current session (late 2013).
April 2013 update
Intense pressure is being exerted to push the TPD through before the end of session. The TPD is being taken through hearings in committees that have an interest in the outcome: IMCO (inter-country trade) and ENVI (health and environment), for example. Each committee has produced a set of its own preferred 'amendments to the amendments'. It is clear that intense horse-trading is taking place between the main voting blocs (the government seats, who may wish to protect tobacco tax revenues, the pharma seats, the tobacco seats, and the anti-tobacco seats). In other words all affected groups will probably vote to ban ecigs via a medicinal licensing clause, with only pro-life votes, independents, and anti-EU control seats voting to support e-cigarettes. Such seats are in the miniority, on an issue with such huge financial implications (the 'smoking economy' is a significant contributor to the general economy).
A rather worrying event is that a Plan B and Plan C have now appeared, in the event that the ECJ rejects pharmaceutical classification of the refills:
a. It has been suggested in one set of amendments that all products of any kind, when sold by an e-cigarette vendor, would be able to be classified as 'a tobacco product' at any time (e.g. if/when the ECJ rejects a pharmaceutical classification). This would enable them to be banned as 'novel tobacco products'.
b. In addition, other amendments have been tabled that would allow a single committee meeting in Brussels to make major policy changes on tobacco law, as needed, without going through the current tiresome democratic process. In other words: they would be able to hold a committee meeting and ban any/all e-cigarette product/s.
It may be that the latter particularly aggressive amendment will not pass due to being illegal in terms of EU process; but the ability to re-classify ecig products as tobacco products would certainly allow them to be removed, if not immediately, then by stages. A tobacco product classification would be 99% as effective as a pharmaceutical one for removing ecigs when convenient.
It should be noted that the entire EU legislative process in the health / tobacco / pharma product areas clearly works to protect cigarette sales and pharmaceutical industry income. This is the biggest obstacle to the future survival of e-cigarette sales, since the saving of life is not even on the agenda. As a clear example of this, Sweden is the world leader in the reduction of smoking-related death and disease, in which areas it is not only a very long way ahead of any other European country but also in the enviable position of having a realistic chance of reducing smoking mortality to insignificant proportions (a goal absolutely beyond the reach of any other country).
Nevertheless, the EU committees are trying their hardest to stop Sweden's ability to continue progress, and are even trying to reverse the drop in smoking and increase it again in Sweden. This is probably the clearest indication of the fact that public health is not the goal in these EU decisions: votes are split between various factions, but pharma and the cigarette trade seem to have the largest blocs.
All factions see e-cigarettes as a serious threat that must be removed, since the growing switch to ecigs will:
March 2014 update
The TPD was defeated in a Parliamentary vote. This was caused by a rejection of the ecig medicalisation clauses by hundreds of MEPs. A two-part problem then ensued for the EU: (1) how to get the TPD through in order to increase regulation of cigarettes, and (2) how to ban / implement restrictions on ecigs.
The solution emerged in the Trilogue negotiations, where it was agreed that instead of medicalisation, ecigs would be deemed a tobacco product and banned or restricted ('regulated') by that method instead. The agreed changes to the TPD were then voted through by the EU Parliament.
The TPD now classifies ecigs as a tobacco product and contains harsh restrictions that could, if interpreted rigidly, be used to ban all current hardware and all refills over 20mg strength, ban all advertising, and ban international web sales. The EU regulations first need to be transposed ('mirrored') into national law in the 28 countries, then implemented. It remains to be seen:
- If all countries will mirror the regulations, if they will directly transpose them, or if they will create stricter laws (as they are allowed to do);
- What the timescale is for transposing the laws;
- Exactly how strictly such laws will be interpreted / enforced in each country;
- How they will enforce the laws
- What the final timescale therefore is for transposition and enforcement
It has been suggested that there will now be a 2-year wait (at March 2014) before the first actions against ecig vendors will start; but the signs are that countries with government departments controlled by the pharmaceutical industry will act significantly faster than this.
This is a tremendous victory for the cigarette and pharmaceutical industries as it protects their incomes for the foreseeable future, and for governments as it protects their vast tax revenues from the smoking economy and reduces economic burdens from part of the population living longer. Of course, a huge black market will be created in any country that actually enforces any of these laws.
Public health and e-cigarettes have very few friends in Brussels: there is no money in it, and indeed there are high costs attributable to a reduction in cigarette sales and people living longer. A 20% - 30% proportion of the population continuing to smoke is a major benefit both to governments and the major industries who in effect decide policy.
FRANCE - Partial permission.
E-Cigarettes and nicotine liquid are considered to be consumer goods regulated by general product safety regulations, unless they meet the criteria for medical licensing. If a product claims to be for smoking cessation; or if the amount of nicotine in a cartridge is greater than or equal to 10 mg; or if the nicotine strength in a refill is more than or equal to 20mg/ml, then an MA is required.
FINLAND - Partial permission: two-tier system.
Nicotine-free liquids and e-cigarette devices can both be sold in Finland.
Liquids containing nicotine fall under the requirements of the Medicines Act and they do not have a sales licence in this country. Nicotine-free liquids are not clearly stipulated by any law.
http://www.hs.fi/english/article/National+Institute+for+Health+and+Welfa... (March 2012)
GERMANY - Permitted.
Import, sale and use are permitted.
The Supreme Courts in two States ruled that e-cigarettes and refill liquid are not pharmaceuticals to be regulated under the Medicines Act or the Medical Devices Act.
2013-09-17: more German court decisions overturn pharmaceutical classification and rule that ecigs are consumer products:
2013-11-19: Full EN explanation of the court's ruling, which overturned medicinal classification of e-cigarettes/refills:
The 3 conjoined cases ruled on:
GREECE - Unclear.
Some reports say import, sale and use is unrestricted. It may be the case that import can be problematic.
The law on protection from tobacco and alcohol appears to ban the marketing of e-cigarettes unless a Ministerial decision authorises them under certain conditions.
Reports, though, say: "The information you have about vaping in Greece is outdated. The Greek government did not ban the products. Using and selling e-cigarettes and e-liquids (refills) in Greece is totally legal and not banned."
http://ec.europa.eu/health/ph_determinants/life_style/Tobacco/Documents/... (page 3) (2009)
The situation may be that the government officially prohibits e-cigarettes but takes no action to enforce the ban.
HONG KONG - Partial permission: two-tier system.
E-cigarettes containing nicotine are classified as licensable poison products and prohibited.
May 2015 SCMP article:
HUNGARY - Partial permission: two-tier system.
October 2013: Hungary introduced the 2-tier system. Products with nicotine are subject to pharmaceutical licensing (i.e. banned), all other products are allowed.
2014-01-08: News received that a Budapest court has overturned the ban on nicotine products.
Update March 10th 2014: The Budapest court allowed nicotine-containing cartridges as a consumer product; fines repaid, confiscated stock returned.
INDONESIA - Banned.
IRAN - Unclear.
Possibly banned due to nicotine in refills.
ISRAEL - Permitted.
Import and sale are allowed.
2014-12-04: Israel Supreme Court approve the import of electronic cigarettes by 3-0 decision, overrules April 2012 Israeli Ministry of Health ban as medicine.
The Health Ministry was considering either a ban or classification as a tobacco product:
http://www.haaretz.com/news/national/israel-s-health-ministry-mulls-five-year-ban-on-electronic-cigarettes.premium-1.506445 (Feb. 2013)
Earlier consideration of prohibition was never implemented:
ITALY - Permitted.
Import, sale and use are unrestricted.
"Any e-cigarette suppliers are allowed to do business in Italy but only Categoria [the 'Categoria' brand] has official approval. This was obtained after extensive product testing." - Prof R Polosa, U.o.Catania.
Government statement: "The Categoria brand of e-cigarettes (including those with nicotine) are the only one approved by the Italian Institute of Health. However, precise legislation (particularly in relation to the liquid contained in the e-cigarette) does not currently exist (neither in Italy nor at a global level) and this will be required at some stage to guarantee the safety of consumers. We are now working towards this direction."
This reveals an interesting situation in which Italy may be unique: a brand of e-cigarette has been approved by the Institute of Health, with government backing, without a pharmaceutical license.
September 2013 update
News is coming in that, resulting from a vote on August 7th, from January 1st 2014 an additional tax will be applied to all e-cigarette related products, in addition to some other regulatory actions with implications that are unclear although currently appear non-significant (no sales to minors, etc.), though there may be some change to locations allowed to sell ecigs. This new tax of 58.5% plus the 21% VAT means that all ecig products will be subject to a near-80% tax (79.5%). This is not unexpected, as Italian MPs had been complaining about the lost tobacco tax revenues due to falling cigarette sales resulting from rising e-cigarette sales (unrestricted e-cigarette availability in Italy has meant that smokers quit in significant numbers or cut down substantially).
Italy is therefore the first country to openly admit by its actions that (1) tax revenue is more important than lives saved, (2) tax rates have no relevance to health risks, and (3) tax is the main factor in regulatory policy.
IRELAND - Permitted.
Import, sale and use are permitted.
Our information is that the government's position is 'on hold', because:
a. The two departments that might be involved each disclaim responsibility: Health says, in effect, "Not our concern unless the product is marketed as a medicine"; Trade says, similarly, "Not our concern as it's a Health matter". (We rather like the Irish approach, if this is the case.)
b. They may well be waiting for the result of the EU TPD re-write, being good and faithful EU members.
Full information and references needed, please.
continued on page 2 - countries J - Z - see menu at right >>
created on 2013-06-05
last update 2014-09-09