Are E-cigs Legal in Your Country?

Electronic Cigarettes Current legal status by country:

The European Economic Area

  • In Denmark, the Danish Medicines Agency classifies electronic cigarettes containing nicotine as medicinal products. Thus, authorization is required before the product may be marketed and sold, and no such authorization has currently been given. The agency has clarified, however, that electronic cigarettes that do not administer nicotine to the user, and are not otherwise used for the prevention or treatment of disease, are not considered medicinal devices. The use of electronic cigarettes has not been prohibited in Copenhagen Airport, but at least one airline (Scandinavian Airlines) has decided to ban their use on board flights.
  • In Finland, the National Supervisory Authority of Welfare and Health (Valvira) declared that the new tobacco marketing ban (effective 1.1.2012) will also cover electronic cigarettes, resulting in that Finnish stores or webstores can’t advertise e-cigarettes because they might look like regular cigarettes. In theory, e-cigarettes with nicotine-free cartridges may still be sold, as long as their images and prices are not visible. Ordering from abroad remains allowed. Sale of nicotine cartridges is currently prohibited, as nicotine is considered a prescription drug requiring an authorization that such cartridges do not yet have. However, the Finnish authorities have decided that nicotine cartridges containing less than 10 mg nicotine, and e-liquid containing less than 0,42 g nicotine per bottle, may be legally brought in from other countries for private use. If the nicotine content is higher, a prescription from a Finnish physician is required. From a country within the European Economic Area a maximum of one year’s supply may be brought in for private use when returning to Finland, while three months’ supply may be brought in from outside the EEA. Mail order deliveries from EEA countries, for a maximum of three months’ supply, are also allowed.
  • In Latvia, the Ministry of Health has warned that the e-cigarette can cause harm to cardiovascular, hepatic and renal systems, however, electric cigarettes are legal, and are sold in most shopping centers and at Riga’s airport, as well as via the internet to individuals at least 18 years old.
  • In the Netherlands, use and sale of electronic cigarettes is allowed, but advertising is forbidden pending European Union legislation.
  • In Norway electronic cigarettes and nicotine can only be imported from other EEA member states (e.g. the UK) for private use.

United States

  • California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed a bill that would ban the sale of e-cigs within the state on grounds that “if adults want to purchase and consume these products with an understanding of the associated health risks, they should be able to do so.
  • In 2009, New Jersey voted to treat the electronic cigarette in the same category as tobacco products by including under the New Jersey Smokefree Air Act. Assemblywoman Connie Wagner sponsored the legislation arguing that they “looked like the real thing”; she also objected to the potential appeal of flavored electric cigarettes to children.
  • The sale of e cigarettes to minors in New Hampshire was legal. A group of students and a group called “Breathe New Hampshire” were concerned that electronic cigarettes will serve as a gateway to smoking cigarettes through appearing to be trendy: one compared electronic cigarettes to “having a new cell phone. It’s cool. It’s electronic.” They launched petitions to the state government to ban the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors. It is now illegal to sell e-cigarettes to minors as of July 2010.
  • Arizona has a planned ban of selling electronic cigarettes to minors.
  • In Washington, the King County board of health has banned smoking of electronic cigarettes in public places, and prohibited sales to minors. Neighboring Pierce County also prohibits sales to minors, but allows e-cigarette use in places such as bars and workplaces.
  • In Oregon in February of 2012, a Continental Airlines flight was diverted back to its airport of origin when a passenger refused to extinguish and put away his e-cigarette. The passenger was detained and charges are expected to be filed. FAA has not ruled on E-cigarette use on airplanes, but airlines are permitted to establish their own policies on E-cigarette use on planes.


Under laws currently in existence, the use of electronic cigarettes are considered legal. Under the Indian Health Law of 2006 smoking has been banned in public. This law states that smoking of tobacco in any form, whether in the form of cigarettes, cigar, beedi or otherwise with the aid of a pipe, wrapper or any other instruments in public is illegal. As e cigarettes avoids the use of tobacco or any of its products it does not fall under this law and as all the contents of an e cigarettes are legal to use in public the e cigarette is considered legal to use until new laws have been passed.

Other countries

  • In Australia, the Federal Department of Health and Ageing classifies every form of nicotine, except for replacement therapies and cigarettes, as a form of poison. However, in the state of Victoria, the Therapeutic Goods Administration said there were no laws preventing the importation of e-cigarettes bought over the internet for personal use, unless prohibited by state and territory legislation.
  • In Brazil, the sale, importation and advertisement of any kind of electronic cigarettes are forbidden. The Brazilian health and sanitation federal agency, Anvisa, found the current health safety assessments about e-cigarettes not to be yet satisfactory to make the product eligible to be approved for commercialization.
  • In Canada, as of March 2009, the import, sale, and advertising of electronic cigarettes containing nicotine are banned in Canada, while non-nicotine e-cigs are legal and may be sold and advertised. Health Canada advised Canadian consumers not to purchase or use any electronic smoking products, cited prohibition of electronic smoking products containing nicotine in the Food and Drugs Act; no market authorization has been granted for any electronic smoking product.
  • In China, the sale and use of electronic cigarettes are legal. However, the low street price of tobacco cigarettes makes e-cigs an expensive alternative.
  • In Finland, the National Supervisory Authority of Welfare and Health (Valvira) declared that the new tobacco marketing ban (effective 1.1.2012) will also cover electronic cigarettes. In practice, Finnish webstores can’t sell or advertise e-cigarettes because they (or some of them) look like regular cigarettes. End users are still allowed to order e-cig products from abroad, although any products that contain nicotine can only be bought from within European Economic Area (EEA) as a quantity that equals three months of personal use.
  • In Lebanon, the council of ministers has banned the sale and use of electronic cigarettes starting 21 September 2011.
  • In New Zealand, the Ministry of Health has ruled that the Ruyan e-cigarette falls under the requirements of the Medicines Act, and cannot be sold except as a registered medicine. Since the ruling, Ruyan has obtained registration, and sale is currently allowed in pharmacies.
  • In Panama, importation, distribution and sale have been prohibited since June 2009. The Ministry of Health cites the FDA findings as their reason for the ban.[61]
  • In Singapore, the sale and import of electronic cigarettes, even for personal consumption, is illegal. According to Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan, electronic cigarettes were the industry’s attempt to attract new users and were marketed to appeal to younger customers, including women.[62]
  • In South Korea, the sale and use of electronic cigarettes are legal, but heavily taxed. Possessing electric cigarettes among teenagers is a problem.[64]
  • In Switzerland, sale of nicotine-free electronic cigarettes is legal. Use and import of electronic cigarettes containing nicotine is legal, though they cannot be sold in Switzerland. As of December 2011 the tobacco tax does not apply to e-cigarettes and respective liquids containing nicotine anymore.
  • In Germany, sale of electronic cigarettes and nicotine-containing cartridges is not forbidden. The electronic cigarette ban outspoken by the health minister of NRW on the press conference on 16th december 2011 is not a legally binding ban but merely exercised free speech.

Current legal status by country

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