July 2007 saw the introduction of the smoking ban in public places in the United Kingdom. This ban in pubs, restaurants, bars and other public buildings led to many people turning to electronic cigarettes across the country. From this, vape shops selling electronic cigarettes have popped up all over the United Kingdom and further afield within recent years and continue to do so at a growing rate.
However, the EU has been seeking to ban the sale of all currently available electronic cigarettes. This proposal could see the end for many shops selling such products.
The bid to ban e-cigarettes has angered many suppliers in Britain with the increasing number of smokers making the switch to e-cigarettes as a healthier alternative.
It is currently legal to use electronic cigarettes indoors, however some businesses have banned the use of such devices by personal preference. Some places such as a town in Northern France have imposed an electronic cigarette ban in public buildings. JD Whetherspoon in Britain has also banned the use of electronic cigarettes in their buildings across the UK.
The World Health Organization says there should be a ban on the use of electronic cigarettes indoors and that sales to children should stop. It is illegal to sell nicotine based products to anyone under the age of 18, however the ready availability of these products make them easily accessible to teenagers under 18.
As the electronic cigarette phenomenon is a very new concept, it is currently outside EU law as products do not contain tobacco. This means that the industry is currently marginally unregulated in Britain, Europe and the USA. Officials in Brussels want this to change, proposing for strict regulation and even banning, as they believe the use of electronic cigarettes, “Normalise the action of smoking”. They also believe that electronic cigarettes, “Are a tobacco related product and should be regulated within this directive”, according to the Daily Telegraph.
If successful, the proposal would take effect as of 2017. This would mean that e-liquids containing levels of nicotine above 20mg and any flavoured e-liquids would be banned. E-cigarettes with refillable cartridges above 2ml would also be banned. Suppliers have stated that most e-cigarettes currently available fall foul of this prohibition.
Having said this, MEPs voted in October 2013 not to regulate electronic cigarette products as ‘medical devices’, despite the Tobacco Products Directive suggesting to do so. What happens to the lifespan of UK vape shops remains to be seen. However, the first ever UK e-cigarette summit suggested a bright future, which many vapers are pleased about. This means the ban of electronic cigarettes sales completely is unlikely, however, many electronic cigarette companies are gearing up for industry regulation.
According to industry estimates, if the electronic cigarette phenomenon continues to grow in popularity, by 2017, when the ban is proposed, the number of people using electronic cigarettes could reach a total of 5 million.