In 2014, the World Health Organization released a framework on tobacco control (guidelines for laws and regulations) which lead to a number of countries placing a ban or heavily restricting e-cigarettes. These guidelines seem to read exactly like the alarmist propaganda coming from public health activists and busybodies from the time period.
The claims include such whoppers as there isn't evidence to support the claim that e-cigarettes help smokers actually quit smoking, that vaping is less harmful than smoking, and that vaping encourages teens to start vaping because of the flavors and may lead them to actual smoking.
Of course the guidelines for vaping laws and regulations haven't changed even though science has refuted essentially the entire report.
For the most part these are either poor or authoritarian countries, where the local populations are usually pretty heavy smokers; i.e. countries whose populations would be best served by switching to vaping from smoking just do the cost of healthcare for smoking related diseases.
Some first world countries with socialized medicine have also banned vaping which is a surprise, seeing as the health risks are so different with e-cigs than the tobacco. Traditional cigarettes are still more widely available than e-cigarettes despite the health risk differential.
Countries where vaping is currently banned:
- East Timor
- Myanmar / Burma
- South Africa
Other countries where vaping is heavily restricted include:
- Hong Kong
- New Zealand
- United States
- Saudi Arabia
- South Africa
Even bringing your vape kit or e-liquid to some of the countries where vaping is banned such as Thailand, can land you in jail for up to 10 years.
Vaping in public in other places, like the Philippines, may get your vacation extended by up to four months -- spent in jail.
Several countries, including the United States and Australia, have inconsistent laws across the states and even from city to city.
Update: India has banned e-cigarettes. The population of India has over 11% of the worlds smokers and is currently taking steps to ban vaping countrywide in the mistaken belief that vaping is more of a health risk than smoking.
Association of Vaping India Director Samrat Chowdhery said [in the Hindustan Times] of the laws, “There is a widespread misconception about the health risks of vaping, which has led many Indian states to ban e-cigarettes, depriving smokers of a safer way of inhaling nicotine".
Vaping may be legal but E-liquid May Not Be
In some of the countries that restrict e-cigarettes, vaping may still be legal but the laws in place might make e-liquid that contains nicotine illegal.
Australia has some some very tight laws governing vaping, some of the most strict in the English speaking world and they aren't consistent state to state. Selling nicotine in the country is restricted as it is considered a poison and can only be sold as a licensed medication. Using a vape pen is legal in all the states but Queensland and no e-cig can contain liquid nicotine. Down under, most vapers buy their e-juice from New Zealand or China (questionable quality) or just buy liquid nicotine and mix it in with the 0mg juice that is available in country.
In Hong Kong, possessing and selling any e-liquid containing nicotine, considered a poison, can land you up to two years in jail, much like in Thailand. E-cigs are still legal but probably not for much longer.
Japan allows vaping but it is illegal to buy and sell e-liquid containing nicotine. This may be why Heat not burn and IQOS (I Quit Ordinary Smoking) devices, considered to be far less harmful than smoking but not as much as vaping, are so popular there.
These heat-not-burn devices are probably going to become far more popular worldwide where liquid nicotine is illegal. Big tobacco companies are really starting to push these worldwide including the United States and Canada.
What to do Before You Travel to a Foreign Country
A friend of the site was traveling in several countries South East Asia a few years ago. He actually had to buy his e-cigarette supplies on the black market. He said it felt like a drug deal, probably because in some countries selling e-juice can land you in jail!
The quality of e-liquid in this situation is entirely questionable and it is probably garbage which should be avoided. Avoid cheap e-liquid! It is usually counterfeit with questionable or unsafe ingredients.
If you really need a nicotine fix while on vacation in some of the countries listed and you don't want to smoke, plan ahead. Try an alternative such as pouches, nicotine gum or patches until you get back home.
If you plan on traveling with your vape, make sure you check the local laws as they change constantly. Don't completely rely on just this list! Don't end up in foreign prison or with a huge fine! Take a few minutes to double check when planning your trip.
The best place to find out the lay of the land in a specific country is try to find an English language vaping forum or Facebook group specific to vapers in that country or region. Contacting your embassy in that country can also be useful to acquire information on local laws and customs.