Vaping is becoming ever more popular in the UK, with around 3 million people in the country now having made the switch from smoking. When compared to some other countries around the world, vapers like me in the UK have a pretty good deal.
Although there are some restrictions on where I can vape, recent signs have shown that the UK’s medical profession is starting to encourage e-cigs as a tobacco quitting aid and I can choose from a good range of vaping products either online or from bricks and mortar stores.
To help people to become more informed, I’ve come up with a quick guide to my life as a vaper in the UK.
I find buying e-cigs here in the UK an absolute breeze. There are plenty of high street stores for those who prefer to get hands-on with their e-cig purchases and who want to discuss their options with a knowledgeable member of staff. There are also lots of websites available which deliver e-liquids and hardware direct to your door. I prefer this option since there’s a much wider range to pick from.
Whatever kind of e-liquid you prefer, you can be confident that you’ll have a wealth of choice. My personal penchant is for dessert flavours and there’s so much variety that I’m not even close to having tried them all! On the downside, these days you can’t buy large bottles or high strength nicotine products due to recent changes in the law. To comply with regulations, any business selling refillable tanks can only sell those with a capacity of 2ml or less, and e-liquids can only be bought in quantities of 10ml or under which is a bit of a pain, especially since I was used to getting great value for money by buying larger bottles. Under the legislation changes, nicotine in any e-liquid cannot exceed 20mg/ml, and now other additives like taurine and caffeine are banned from e-juice.
Where Can You Vape?
Although vaping isn’t welcomed everywhere, I’ve found that you can vape in loads of different places, including indoors in some cases. The UK is proud to be a vape-friendly country, and there are rarely any restrictions on vaping in outdoor public places unless there are clear signs to the contrary. Public parks and town centres generally allow people to use their vaping devices while in the open air, although there are more restrictions when it comes to indoor spaces.
All forms of public transport generally ban smoking on board (with the exception of Southeastern trains, I’ve discovered), while sports stadiums are another location where using vaping devices are generally forbidden. Although some restaurants and bars allow vaping, there are many eateries and pubs which are well known for being vape free including big names like KFC, Starbucks and Wetherspoons – whenever I go there, I have to vape outside in the smoking area.
In most cases, I’ve found that independently owned establishments are more vape friendly than international and national chains, and according to my research around half of all the UK’s pubs do permit vaping on the premises, so it’s pretty good odds that you’ll find one in your area. When it comes to airports, usually vaping isnt’t allowed, although bringing your vaping equipment on aircraft is permitted. However, the notable exception to the rule is Heathrow’s terminal four, which now features a dedicated vaping zone – a fantastic addition and one I made plenty of use of when my last flight was delayed!
Vaping At Work
In most workplaces, including mine, vaping’s forbidden, however, some forward-thinking employers now permit it, either in the office or a dedicated area. My friend works for a media company that have no problem with it – I wish she’d get me a job there! As yet, there is no legislation in place to clarify the legal situation regarding vaping at work in the UK.
Attitudes To Vaping
Although some people in the UK are still anti-vaping, attitudes seem to be changing thanks to the recent recognition from the medical profession that vaping can actually offer health benefits to those who want to quit smoking.
The most recent annual Stoptober campaign showed vaping as a smoking cessation aid for the first time – a sure sign that vaping is now being acknowledged as a positive thing. A YouGov poll carried out among UK residents in January 2018 also showed that attitudes are becoming more positive towards vaping, with over 40% of respondents stating that they now believe that vaping is less harmful than smoking cigarettes, an indicator that UK citizens are starting to warm to the idea of welcoming vapers into society.
I used to get nasty comments while I was vaping in the street, (in fact one guy actually shouted out of his car window at me!) but these days that doesn’t happen so much. While the average vaper might raise one or two eyebrows if they get out their e-cig in a crowded street, there’s much less chance these days of attracting unwanted comments or attention.
Overall, I’ve found that life is pretty good for vapers in the UK, and with the country’s e-cig industry being currently worth over £1 billion, it’s no wonder that the government commissioned an inquiry at the end of 2017 into the economic and health impacts of vaping in order to come to a greater understanding of the benefits and to ensure that current legislation is appropriate. Hopefully, the outcome of this review will lead to even greater freedom for the UK’s vapers and greater encouragement from the powers that be so I can enjoy vaping in a lot more places and don’t have to share so many outdoor shelters with smokers!
James Menta is a vaping enthusiast and blogs at e-cigreviews.org.uk. When he is not vaping, he is either coding programs for the Finance industry or playing Basketball.