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When an avid vaper packs for a vacation, one of the biggest concerns they have is how they’ll fit all their vape gear inside their suitcase without paying the excess baggage fee. At least, that’s what I wreck my head with. The morning of the trip, I generally choose to leave a few items of clothing behind just so I can take a couple of more bottles of my favorite vape juice. However, I’ve learned the hard way that vapers actually need to worry about whether or not they can even take their vape gear abroad at all! That there are countries that ban vaping (either use, sale, or both) is no secret. Still, I was surprised that some countries would go to such lengths to actually confiscate vape gear at arrival (which happened to me) or to even imprison unsuspecting tourists when they use their vape pens in the open (which happen to this poor Swiss tourist in Thailand).
So, before you start planning your vacation, it’s important to check the local laws surrounding vaping. The situation in the USA is not great but at least there’s an attempt at regulation (however unsensible it might be) – we’re still not one of the many countries that ban vaping completely. Before we go into the details about the countries unwise to travel to with your vape gear, let’s first explore why certain countries feel the need to ban vaping at all.
Why Do Countries Ban Vaping?
It’s difficult to say with any real certainty why vaping is illegal in some countries around the world. My guess (and a lot of experts do agree with this) is that countries are pressured by Big Tobacco companies to restrict access to smoking alternatives. This makes sense because the tobacco industry stands to lose a lot if tobacco becomes an obsolete crop.
Still, the fact is that a lot of tobacco companies are designing and marketing their own vapes. While they are bound to push countries to limit e-cigarettes (they still have to offload all that tobacco), it’s unlikely that they would try to completely strangle one of their own revenue streams.
Which leads us to Big Pharma – a number of huge companies that produce and sell pharmaceutical drugs. These companies are massive – their global yearly revenue is well over 1 TRILLION US dollars! On both sides of the pond, Big Pharma companies are actively lobbying for stricter rules on vaping, falling short only of asking developed countries to outright ban access to vapes. And, that’s only because people would protest hard – Big Pharma is getting away with it in developing and 3rd World countries, however.
Around half of that $ 1 trillion is made in the US and Canada, which explains why Big Pharma has such a huge influence over the White House and the policies that are proposed in the US Congress. When President Obama was trying to get ObamaCare passed, the rumor is that he had to make concessions to Big Pharma in order to get them to agree to his plan. One of those concessions (allegedly) was the apparent over-regulation of the vaping industry. In the EU, the Tobacco Products Directive was also heavily influenced by Big Pharma, at least according to one UK official. Despite overwhelming opposition from vapers and vape supporters, the EU still decided to pass a law that severely limits vapers from choosing the devices they need, as well as curbs their access to nicotine vape juices.
With the power of Big Pharma in mind, it’s important to note that the World Health Organization (WHO) holds the biggest sway over countries where vaping is illegal. WHO’s tobacco control arm is called the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), and it has been a staunch opponent of vaping for years, publishing vape-related warnings as early as 2007, when vaping first arrived in the EU and the US. The FCTC regularly issues reports – such as this one – which are full of scaremongering misrepresentations and overreactions related to vaping. In the linked report, they note that vaping can produce more harmful substances than regular cigarettes (a lie); that it’s not a true smoking cessation aid (another lie); and that secondhand aerosol can have adverse health consequences (also a lie). In fact, you can read our post about the so-called “secondhand vaping” and see why it poses minimal risk to the people around you.
The problem is – people (and countries) are still willing to believe everything that WHO serves up. This is especially true for poorer countries, where medical programs that employ thousands of health professionals are funded by various WHO branches.
However, there are also countries that are very upfront about why they are banning vaping. Take India, for example – the government there owns a good chunk of tobacco fields, and it stands to lose a lot of money if people switch over to vaping. Their position on the matter is horrible but at least it’s honest. Other tobacco-invested countries don’t ban vaping but they levy a hefty tax on vape products to discourage people from using them (and to, effectively, ban them – you can’t really use something you can’t afford). One such country is Indonesia. In order to keep people smoking regular cigarettes, they’ve imposed a 57% tax on vaping. Considering that most of Indonesia’s excise tax income comes from tobacco, this is not surprising. In fact, Indonesia’s trade minister went as far as to suggest that vapers should just take up conventional smoking because “a reduction in smoking would harm the country’s tobacco farmers”. I couldn’t make this stuff up even if I tried!
The ugly truth is that some countries are banning vaping because it would hurt their revenue if they didn’t. The math is simple for them – the more people that smoke, the more money they make. And, the legislators in those countries are under enormous pressure from the Big Pharma companies to keep their population addicted to the poison that is cigarette smoke – otherwise, their incredible yearly revenue of $ 1 TRILLION would definitely start to shrivel up in the coming years.
In short – vaping is prohibited by law in some countries because sick people are good for business. That about sums up the global orchestrated effort to ban e-cigarettes in as many countries as possible. And, it’s all happening right now!
25 Countries Where E-Cigarettes Are Banned Or Restricted (Use, Sale, Or Combination Of Both)
Unfortunately, there are only a few countries that have taken to actively promoting vaping as a life-saving smoking cessation method. One of them is the United Kingdom, where physicians are encouraged to suggest vaping to smokers, and there is talk of making vape products available over the NHS (meaning, the government would subsidize them for patients with prescriptions).
However, with everything that I’ve mentioned above, it’s no surprise that there are plenty of countries that ban vaping. The bans can focus on the use and possession, import and sales, or be a combination of all of those. Here’s a list of the countries that I’m certain have laws that prohibit vaping (I’m leaving out the countries that we have no info on – such as the Vatican and North Korea). Of course, since vaping laws quickly change, some of the information here might become outdated. I’ll do my best to update the list regularly – if you notice that something is off the mark, make sure to leave a comment and I’ll add to or amend the list!
Antigua and Barbuda – the use of e-cigarettes is allowed, as is the possession of vaping gear. However, the sale of e-cigs and other vaping gear is prohibited. The country equated e-cigs to tobacco cigarettes in their 2018 Tobacco Control Act – you can find more information here.
Austria – the use of e-cigarettes is legal, as is the sale. However, nicotine vape juices might be hard to find since vape shops need a special permit to carry them.
Australia – e-cigarettes are legal to possess and use. However, selling nicotine vape juices is prohibited, and the fines can be severe, depending on the state.
Argentina – vaping and possession is legal in Argentina. However, selling, advertising, or importing vape gear is illegal. Expats living in Argentina do say that tourists are almost never bothered when entering the country with their vape gear, as long as they don’t bring in gallons of vape juice. Still, it’s smart to check with your embassy before traveling because, technically, Argentina is one of those countries that ban vape products.
Brazil – vapes are legal to use, but can’t be imported or sold. Most Brazillian vapers agree that you should be fine when entering the country with a personal supply as the law is not really enforced. Just make sure not to vape in closed spaces or in really crowded public areas.
Cambodia – use of e-cigarettes, as well as advertising, sales, and import is strictly prohibited in Cambodia. The authorities will most likely confiscate your vape gear and fine you if they catch you vaping anywhere in the country.
Colombia – the Columbian law regarding vaping is a free for all right now. Vapes are equated with cigarettes, which means that they can be used but you can’t import or sell them. This is a bit weird since Colombia hosted a big America Vape Expo in 2017.
Estonia – legal to use and legal to sell. Still, high-nicotine vape juices (more than 0.7mg) can’t be bought in the country as no manufacturer is licensed to produce them.
Gambia – Gambia has implemented a complete ban of e-cigarette products – use and possession are illegal, as is sale and import.
India – vaping is legal in most of India, except in 6 states (Kerala, Karnataka, Punjab, Maharashtra, the Union Territory of Chandigarh, and Bihar). The state of Punjab convicted a vaper to a 3-year jail term in 2016 for possession of one cigalike device with eight cartridges. If traveling to any of these states, do not carry your vape gear! The government recently recommended all states to implement vaping bans but ultimately leaves it up to them to decide.
Japan – in Japan, it’s legal to use and sell vape gear. However, the sale of nicotine e-liquid is prohibited unless a store has a special permit (medicinal use). It’s important to note that the Japanese are more into heat-not-burn products, such as the IQOS.
Jordan – it looks like Jordan has made vaping illegal in 2009, which includes the use, possession, and sale of e-cigs. However, many tourists report that they were not bothered when entering the country with their vape gear. Personally, I wouldn’t recommend trying it.
Mexico – vaping is legal. The sale of vape gear and importation is illegal. That said, Mexico is lives from tourism, and the police turn a blind eye to vaping tourists. If you refrain from vaping in closed spaces, you should be fine, especially if in touristy places. (This is one country that bans vaping that I’d actually risk it in).
Nicaragua – a complete ban on vaping products – use is illegal, as is the sale and importation. Several vapers have been fined and incarcerated because of vaping in the last couple of years.
Malaysia – certain Malaysian states have completely banned vaping – use, possession, sale, and importation. There’s a push to ban it completely all over the country. However, there’s a very vibrant community of vapers in Malaysia, so the situation is confusing, at the very least. I suggest leaving your vape gear at home when traveling there.
Thailand – the possession and use of vape gear are legal – sale and importation are illegal. Despite that, Thailand has earned a reputation as being very harsh in upholding the law. If you’re caught with an e-cigarette, you can be fined and imprisoned because technically, as a tourist, you did import it.
Panama – the use of e-cigs is legal in Panama. However, importing vapes and their sales is not. If caught vaping, you can be fined because, as a tourist, you technically imported a prohibited item into the country.
Suriname – vaping is technically legal in Suriname but it’s best done in the confines of your AirBnB since smoking in public is prohibited. Sale, import, and advertisement of e-cigarettes are all prohibited.
Seychelles – e-cigarettes are legal to use and possess. However, selling and importing them is prohibited, and they are classified as tobacco products. If vacationing in Seychelles, I suggest leaving your vape gear at home as you might have problems during the customs check.
Singapore – use, sale, importation, and advertising of e-cigarettes is strictly prohibited in Singapore. This country has one of the strictest laws regarding vaping in the world, and you could be fined up to $ 1,500 just for having a vape pen. Jail time of up to 6 months in prison is also not excluded.
United Arab Emirates – UAE Health Ministry has banned the use and possession of e-cigarettes, as well as their sale and importation. They are currently looking to institute penalties for violations of these laws. Since UAE is definitely a place where you do not want to end up in jail, I strongly recommend leaving your vape at home when traveling there.
The United States of America – the USA vaping laws are difficult to navigate – e-cigs are legal to own and legal to sell. But, only if they were manufactured prior to August 8th, 2016. Anything past that date needs to be approved by the FDA (no approvals have been issued so far). However, states can choose to curb the use and sale of vaping gear as they please. For a list of laws pertaining to vaping in certain US states, refer to this Wikipedia article.
The landscape of vaping regulations is constantly changing in the US. The FDA still seems to be in the dark as to how to approach everything on the federal level (although the agency is looking to heavily regulate everything, from use to sales). In the meantime, local politicians use vaping bans as a means of scoring political points with their sponsors from Big Tobacco and Big Pharma. We can only hope that we will get reasonable regulations before 2022 rolls around – that’s when pre-2016 vape products that did not receive FDA’s approval get pulled from the market.
Venezuela – vaping in Venezuela is legal at this time. However, the laws around sale and importation are confusing as a permit is required to classify e-cigs as either consumer goods or as medicinal products. As of now, no such permit has been issued. When vaping in Venezuela, make like the locals and don’t vape where smoking is prohibited.
Uganda – owning an e-cig is legal in Uganda. However, since vape gear is classified as an ENDS (electronic nicotine delivery system), sales and importation are illegal. I would advise not to get caught vaping there.
Qatar – vaping is completely banned in Qatar. This includes the use, possession, and sale of e-cigarettes. Customs officers are charged with seizing any vape products entering the country. Again, this is not a country in which you’d want to be caught breaking the law in so I suggest not bringing your vape gear if you’re traveling there.
It’s important to note here that many of these countries that are banning the use of e-cigs are doing so at the explicit recommendation of the WHO. When drafting and enacting laws, their officials often cite WHO guidelines (flawed and misleading) as the main reason for doing so.
Traveling In The Countries Where Vaping Is Illegal – Use Common Sense & Caution!
Whenever you’re traveling abroad, be it to any of these countries or somewhere else, and you plan on taking your vape gear, make sure to check with your embassy if there are any laws prohibiting the use of e-cigs.
As I’ve mentioned, things change fast when we’re talking about vaping so it’s important to double-check everything if you don’t want to get into trouble. Confiscation and fines might be the least of your problems – some of the countries on this list with imprison you without batting a metaphorical eyelid!
If you have any questions about the countries where vaping is illegal, don’t hesitate to contact us via our Facebook page! In the meantime, check out Kind Pen’s easy-to-use vape pens – we’re sure you’re going to find something that’s to your liking!