Posted March 31, 2016 by Daniel Archibald-Jones in Information & Articles

Where Can You Vape? A UK Guide

Way back when basic electronic cigarettes started to become widely available in the UK (circa mid 2000’s) many companies marketed them as a means of ‘beating the smoking ban’ that had recently come into force.

The fact was, however, that while it was true they contained no tobacco and produced no secondary toxins, the issue of whether they could be used in public places was – and to a degree still is – a matter of conjecture.

The main issue for the confusion is that the decision of whether or not vaping is permitted in a public space – for example a restaurant, pub or even shop – is one that is made solely by the person who holds the operating rights for the location.

A publican is well within their rights to refuse people the permission to vape on their site, or alternatively permit it throughout, and is perfectly entitled to refuse service to people who choose to ignore their established rules.

It’s increasingly common to see notices that forbid the use of electronic cigarettes next to ‘no smoking’ signs in a wide variety of businesses and locations.

Here’s the lowdown of the where electronic cigarettes are permitted or not in some key day to day environments:


Like most of these scenarios/locations there is no legal rule that prevents people from smoking in airports, train stations or bus depots – but the vast majority of them ask people to refrain from using their e cigs while using their indoor facilities.

On-board planes, trains and buses almost all operators have banned their use, however there are occasional exceptions and a few without any formal policy whatsoever.

Public Buildings

All public buildings such as government offices enforce a blanket ban against vaping on their premises, sometimes extending even as far as to cover anywhere on their grounds – even outside!

Hospitals vary depending upon their own policies but are likely to frown upon their indoor use, even though there is no total ban except is Scotland where they are strictly not permitted.

Stadiums & Cultural Venues

The majority of stadiums, theatres, music venues and cinemas will not allow vaping although the efforts they put into enforcing this will vary substantially.

It’s not unheard of for people to be ejected from some places for vaping, however this is the exception rather the rule – but always check for visible signage before settling down for a vape.

Pubs, Clubs & Restaurants

As mentioned during the introduction, it’s entirely the decision of the premises operator whether or not they allow vaping.

Some large pub chains enforce a strict ban, while others will only raise concerns should they receive complaints from other customers.

Discretion lies entirely with the management of the site how they react to such issues, and increasingly many are erring on the side of caution and requesting people vape outdoors.

Generally speaking it’s always best to be sure you can vape in a public space before doing so, however as people are becoming ever more aware of electronic cigarettes there’s reason for optimism that the current status quo won’t become too much more draconian.

In the meantime it’s unlikely that a subtle vaper will cause too much consternation providing they are respectful and discreet while they enjoy a casual vape.