You may have been vaping for some time already, or only just making the switch from smoking cigarettes, either way, you may have read conflicting information when it comes to vaping in public. Although smoking was banned within enclosed public spaces back in 2006, this did not directly prohibit the use of e-cigarettes the same way.
In this complete guide, we address questions and concerns about vaping in public places, including public transport, hospitals and driving. Providing an in-depth look into all forms of public venues and transport, we provide up-to-date policies from leading businesses and transport providers to offer a greater understanding of where you can vape within public areas throughout the country.
We actively update this guide to provide the most up-to-date policies and guidelines, however, these may be changed at any given time. For this reason, we always advise checking directly with owners or management wherever you want to vape to ensure that you don't break any policies that may be in place.
Summary: Vaping does not fall under the same UK legislation under the Health Act 2006. The majority of public venues, transport sectors, and hospitality tend to follow similar guidance when it comes to vaping in public. The best advice is to treat vaping as smoking when within enclosed public spaces, unless instructed differently. Vaping is permitted in outdoor public areas across the UK unless instructed otherwise.
Can you vape in public places?
Although there are regulations and laws in place to restrict smoking in public places, you may not understand potential restrictions when it comes to vaping. Legislation under the Health Act 2006 prohibits smoking in enclosed public places, which include workplaces, public transport and vehicles used for work. However, this is not directly the case with vaping. According to Public Health England (PHE), "e-cigarette use is not covered by smoke-free legislation" and therefore should not be routinely included in the requirements of an organisation’s smoke-free policy.
You will find that public venues follow legislation and guidance provided for smoking when it comes to vaping, with many that adopting their own vape regulations, across many industries and sectors. This guide provides in-depth guidance on vape regulations across popular public venues, transport sectors and hospitality to increase your knowledge of vaping in public.
Smoking vs vaping in public
When it comes to smoking or vaping in public, there are many significant differences that you may have questions about, or confusion about the different regulations in place for each. Throughout the UK, both smoking and vaping are generally permitted in outdoor public spaces unless otherwise stated. The main confusion and queries relate to the smoking ban which was introduced in 2006 which prohibits smoking within enclosed public spaces and if, or where these rules apply to vaping.
Unlike smoking, there is no visible harm from passive vaping. Cancer Research UK states that "there is no good evidence that second-hand vapour from e-cigarettes is harmful". It's also clear that vaping does not produce tobacco smoke which reduces the risk of passive smoke. NHS England further states that "e-cigs release negligible amounts of nicotine into the atmosphere".
Although some health professionals recommend not vaping around pregnant women, babies and children, "any risk from passive vaping to bystanders is small relative to tobacco cigarettes" - NHS.
Although vaping in public can be seen as less harmful when compared to smoking, many public areas do prefer to follow and create the same guidelines for either. You're always best treating vaping as you would smoking when within enclosed public places, whilst always checking with owners or management if you are allowed to vape inside their venue.
Vaping on public transport
When it comes to public transport, there are significant forms which can make it confusing to understand where public vaping is permitted. For the most part, any enclosed public spaces ban smoking due to the legislation under the Health Act 2006. Unfortunately, although this does not include vaping or the use of e-cigarettes, many follow this legislation to create their regulations that closely mimic this ban for vape-related products.
Our best advice is to treat vaping the same as smoking; Although we understand there are many differences between the two, it's the safest option and could avoid you receiving any fines or having any services withdrawn. Our guide below looks into public transport further, whilst highlighting regulations in place when it comes to vaping across all major sectors.
Please note that although we work hard towards providing the most up-to-date and accurate information, we always advise checking directly with areas that we mention.
Can you vape on a train?
Unfortunately, vaping is prohibited on all major train operators. Although vaping does not fall under the same legislation as smoking, network operators including Network Rail, Avanti West Coast and TransPennine Express enforced a blanket ban on electronic cigarettes on their trains.
“For the comfort of other passengers, we do not allow electronic cigarettes to be used at any of our stations or on any of our services.” - Northern Rail
For this reason, we advise that you avoid vaping on any train regardless of where you are travelling as you may be evicted from travel. Always ask train staff for guidance if you are unsure, however, as it stands this is believed to be a complete ban across all major UK train operators.
Can you vape on train platforms?
Following the same restrictions for their trains, the majority, if not all train companies and stations prohibit the use of e-cigarettes alongside smoking on any of their rail platforms. If you want to vape at a train station, the best advice is to look for a designated smoking area where vaping will be permitted.
Train Operator Vaping Guidelines
Below we highlight vaping regulations set out by major UK rail operators. With over 20 currently in operation, it's always best to check directly with whoever you plan on travelling with for the most up-to-date and accurate information.
Avanti West Coast: Both smoking and the use of e-cigarettes are prohibited on any Avanti West Coast train or operating platform.
Eurostar: All Eurostar trains prohibit the use of any electronic cigarette or smoking in general on their trains or platforms.
Northern Rail: Vaping has been prohibited on-board Northern Rails trains since 2014, alongside smoking or the use of e-cigarettes.
ScotRail: Smoking and vaping e-cigarettes is not allowed on any ScotRail trains or stations, including open platforms.
Thameslink: No smoking regardless of device. Thameslink do not allow e-cigarettes on any of their trains or platforms.
TransPennine Express: Smoking, including e-cigarettes or vapes are prohibited anywhere on TransPennine Express trains and stations.
Can you vape on the London Underground (TfL)?
In 2014 Transport for London (TfL) introduced a stealth ban on e-cigarettes throughout all of London's buses, trains and tubes, with the exception of bus stops as TfL does not have authority over these spaces. Although it was previously forbidden, a change to the "conditions of carriage" in August 2014 introduces a wide ban on vaping throughout the TfL network.
“The full inclusion was brought in this August to remove potential for confusion and allow staff to approach any customer either smoking or using an Electronic Smoking Device with confidence, ensuring that the No Smoking ban is fully enforced." - Jill Collis, Director of Health, Safety & Environmnet.
You may not know that the smoking ban for London Underground came into effect well before the smoking Legislation under the Health Act 2006. In 1987 a fire struck at King's Cross station which began with a dropped match on an escalator leading to a six month ban on smoking throughout the London Underground, this was then made a permanent decision.
Can you vape on a plane?
The short answer to this questions is no. Although airlines restrict vaping on a plane, there are exceptions when it comes to some UK airports, or those located around the world. We have a complete Travelling With E-Cigarettes Guide that outlines restrictions on travelling with vaping products, with guidance on where you are permitted to vape within major UK airports.
Can you vape on cruise ships or ferries?
Cruise ships and ferries differ from other public transport as they provide outdoor areas where smoking and vaping may be permitted. As with other public transport guidelines highlighted, cruise ships generally prohibit vaping alongside smoking within any enclosed space onboard, which includes your room or own balcony.
Cruise operator guidelines
Below we cover current vaping regulations that are in force by major UK cruise lines. With an extensive list of operators, we've covered the major British cruise line operators below. Although we work hard to update this regularly, we always advise checking directly for the most up to date information available.
Cunard Line: Vaping is not permitted in staterooms, on stateroom balconies, in public rooms or in Churchill's Cigar Lounge (which is solely for cigar and pipe smoking use). Vaping is however permitted in designated areas on open decks.
Fred Olsen Cruise Line: E-cigarettes that do not emit any vapour are permitted in cabins or cabin balconies but not permitted in other non-smoking public areas. Electronic cigarettes that emit vapour may only be used within designated smoking areas.
Marella Cruises: Electronic cigarettes are not permitted within enclosed public spaces including your room. Vaping is only permitted within designated smoking areas of the open deck.
P&O Cruises: E-cigarettes, including those that do not emit any vapour are only permitted within designated smoking areas.
Saga Cruises: Vaping is prohibited from anywhere on board except for designated smoking areas. If you are travelling onboard Saga ocean cruise ships, this area is located on deck 11.
Ferry operator guidelines
Below we highlight the major Ferry operators providing travel to and from the United Kingdom. Because guidelines may change, we do aim to update this article frequently, however must advise that you check directly with any Ferry company you choose to use to ensure you have the most accurate and up to date information.
Condor Ferries: Although Condor only state smoking is prohibited within enclosed public spaces on their website, when contacted they advised this is also the case for e-cigarettes and should only be used within designated smoking areas.
DFDS: Smoking which includes e-cigarettes, is not permitted in passenger cabins and public areas, which includes corridors, halls, staircases and arcades. However they are permitted within designated smoking areas only.
Irish Ferries: Smoking or vaping is not permitted within any indoor area on board Irish Ferries however is permitted on outside passenger decks where there are dedicated areas for doing so.
P&O: Vaping is not permitted within any passenger area within P&O ships. Neither smoking or vaping is allowed in cabins or on the vehicle decks. Vaping is permitted within designated smoking areas provided.
Stena Line: Vaping is prohibited within passenger areas or vehicle decks and is only permitted within designated outdoor smoking areas on deck.
Can you vape on buses or coaches?
Like other public transport, vaping is prohibited onboard buses and coaches throughout the UK with little exception. Below we highlight some of the most popular coach operators within the country with their guidance and restrictions when it comes to vaping onboard their services.
Arriva: Smoking, alongside electronic cigarettes are strictly forbidden at any time on Arriva buses which applies to both passengers and Arriva employees.
Flexibus: Smoking and the use of e-cigarettes are not permitted onboard although can be used during scheduled stops and during scheduled breaks.
National Express: Smoking or vaping is prohibited onboard any National Express coach or bus station.
Scottish Citylink / Megabus: Passengers are not permitted to smoke or vape onboard any Scottish Citylink or Megabus coaches which includes no-smoking areas in any coach station.
Stagecoach: Smoking and vaping is not permitted onboard any Stagecoach which they state is due to health and safety of all customers.
Can you vape at music venues?
Outdoor festivals most likely permit vaping with exceptions, however enclosed venues such as concerts may prohibited the use of e-cigarettes. Music venues including festivals, concerts and arenas differ significantly when it comes to regulations on vaping. You'll be pleased to know that we've covered all of these in our Festival Vaping Guide. Providing everything you need to know about vaping at music festivals and concerts, with up to date guidance and policies from leading events, our guide has the answers to questions you may have.
Can you vape in restaurants or cafes?
Much like other enclosed public areas, vaping in restaurants or cafes is down to the discretion of the owners and management. Although the smoking ban does not include vaping directly, many public venues, especially those providing food have their own policies in place that restrict vaping indoors.
For this reason we advise you to avoid vaping within a restaurant or cafe and vape within any designated smoking areas or outside the premises. If you really want to vape inside, please check with management to see if you are permitted to do so.
Can you vape in hospitals?
Smoking is prohibited across all NHS hospitals within the UK. Although this restriction often extends to vaping, there are many different approaches to the restriction of vape related products both within hospitals and on hospital grounds. A freedom of information request showed that around 50% of UK hospitals permitted vaping on their grounds with a rare few, including Nottingham University Hospitals (NHU) who permit vaping on their sites for patients, visitors and staff.
"The most up-to-date research on the effects of vaping shows it to be 95% safer than smoking (based on research by Public Health England). Vapes contain only a fraction of the chemicals found in tobacco, and a 2014 Public Health England independent evidence review showed that there is no evidence of harm to bystanders from exposure to e-cigarette vapour, and the risks to health are likely to be extremely low." - NHU 2023
Due to each hospital having their own approaches when it comes to vaping on their grounds, with some hospitals in the same area having different regulations, the best advice we can provide is to check directly with any hospital you need to attend.
Worried about hospital without a vape?
Although the NHS highlight that "people who used e-cigarettes to quit smoking, as well as having expert face-to-face support, can be up to twice as likely to succeed as people who used other nicotine replacement products", there are many smoking cessation options available through the NHS. If you're worried about staying in hospital without nicotine related products, we advise speaking to a healthcare professional or pharmacist to talk through your options.
Can you vape in pubs?
When it comes to vaping in pubs it directly comes down to the individual discretion of the owner(s) which can lead to conflicting information. A survey carried out by The Morning Advisor, 44% permitted vaping within their pub, however this still points out many do not. Our research highlighted that JD Wetherspoon, Greene King and Mitchells & Butlers have banned vaping.
The best advice we can provide is to check directly with the landlords if you are permitted to vape within their premises, if not you may be able to do so within designated smoking areas or outside the venue.
Can you vape in hotel rooms?
For the most part, hotels prohibit the use of e-cigarettes with many policies in place that state fines to discourage vaping. As a general rule, its advised to treat vaping like you would smoking when staying at a hotel, unless stated otherwise by management. Hotel smoke detectors can be triggered by vaping so we strongly discourage doing so. Look out for designated smoking areas within a hotel for places where vaping may be permitted.
Vaping whilst driving
Although smoking or vaping whilst driving is not illegal, if you're travelling with passengers under the age of 18 it is illegal to smoke within the vehicle and can see fines of £50. Although not directly illegal, there are guidelines to follow if you choose to vape whilst driving to avoid breaking the law.
According to National Highways, when driving, you must be in full control of your vehicle without any obstructions preventing you from seeing the road clearly. If you are vaping a higher powered device such as sub-ohm kit, or vaping frequently you could easily obscure your vision with vapour which would be deemed as illegal. In addition, you should not be distracted by your vape device such as changing settings or altering the screen whilst driving as this could also land you in trouble.
By reading through our in-depth public vaping guide you should now have a much greater understanding on regulations and policies in place throughout public venues and transport across the UK. Although we update this guide regularly, it's important to highlight that you should always check directly with venue owners or transport operators if you are unsure on whether vaping is permitted. As a general rule of thumb, it's best to treat vaping as you would smoking to avoid breaking any rules or policies.
Frequently asked questions (FAQ)
Yes, both e-cigarette vapour and cigarette smoke can trigger smoke alarms in hotel rooms. Always follow hotel guidelines when vaping to avoid fines or eviction.
Yes, in addition to sensors which can detect vaping, e-cigarette vapour can create a sweet odor that could be noticed by hotel staff. Only vape in your hotel room if management have informed you that you can.
No, vaping in pubs is not illegal, although it is up to the landlords discretion if they choose to permit the use of e-cigarettes in their premises.
Although it is not against the law to vape in nightclubs, there may be policies in place which prohibit the use of e-cigarettes in club venues. Always check with owners or management of a nightclub to check their vaping policy.
No, the vast majority of cinemas prohibit the use of vaping in their screens. If you wish to vape at the cinema, you may do so within designated smoking areas.
The majority of restaurants and cafes in the UK have policies in place that prohibit the use of electronic cigarettes. Always check with management or owners, if unusre only vape in designated smoking areas.
Yes, there is no current law that prevents vaping in a car with children. However it is illegal to smoke cigarettes in a vehicle with anybody under the age of 18.
No, it is not illegal to vape on a bus in the UK, although the majority of operators have policies in place that prohibit the use of e-cigarettes onboard.
It is not illegal to vape on trains in the UK, but the majority or train operators have banned vaping onboard their trains or platforms.
Yes, you are allowed to take e-cigarettes onbaord a cruise ship, however it's important to check the laws and regulations of countries you may be travelling through to ensure that vaping is not banned.
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