Even as the electronic cigarette industry continues to see new customers flock to its products, there remains an ongoing debate about whether or not they are safe. Just as there are conflicting opinions within the scientific and medical communities, so too are opinions divided among the governments of the world as to how they should address the new technology. This has led to regulatory action in more than two-thirds of the world’s countries, and outright bans in others. So, which countries have banned electronic cigarettes, and why?
Here is a recent look at the current state of the law in various places around the globe:
Argentina: This country has banned the products altogether. As a result, they are not legal to import, advertise, or distribute in any way.
Australia: If you’re traveling Down Under, you can get your hands on e-cigarettes, but only if you are willing to forsake the nicotine variety. The country has adopted a tiered system of regulation, and any refills or cartridges that have nicotine in them are treated under the poison laws. You can, however, bring your own with you during your visit – but only for personal use.
Austria: In Austria, electronic cigarettes are treated as medical devices, so they may as well be banned completely. You need a license if you want to sell cartridges containing nicotine.
Belgium: This is another two-tier area, with non-nicotine products remaining legal and nicotine options restricted via medical licensing. However, thanks to the European Union’s more welcoming stance, you can import your own nicotine refills, provided that you are only using the product for personal consumption.
Brazil: Brazil, for reasons unknown, has decided that these non-tobacco products should be regulated as if they actually were tobacco. You cannot sell or market them within the nation.
Brunei: Brunei considers e-cigs as nothing more than an attempt to disguise regular cigarettes, and has banned them altogether. That ban, if violated, carries a penalty of $10,000.
Columbia: Given some of the other products for which this country is so well-known, it might surprise you to learn that it has banned e-cigs. It’s true.
Denmark: Here too, nicotine-based e-cig refills are subject to medical licensing. You can, however, readily obtain the nicotine-free variety.
Finland: The Finns also have a tiered system that allows non-nicotine products, while subjecting nicotine refills and cartridges to the stipulations of the country’s Medicines Act.
Hong Kong: This is another jurisdiction in which the poison laws are being utilized to regulate nicotine e-cigs. Non-nicotine options are, however, permitted.
Indonesia: The Indonesians have decided to ban e-cigarettes altogether.
Japan: This country also banned the nicotine e-cig types, after classifying them as medical products that need to be licensed.
Jordan: In this nation, it is illegal to either import or sell any electronic cigarettes, regardless of whether they contain nicotine.
Korea: The Koreans have permitted the sale and ownership of e-cigs, but they are subject to the same regulations as traditional tobacco products. As a result, they are heavily taxed, which for some consumers amounts to an effective ban on their acquisition.
Malaysia: This is another nation that has decided to consider the products as medicinal devices. While they are currently prohibited, there are apparently plans to allow them to be sold at licensed pharmacies.
Mexico: The Mexican government believes that these products are designed to look like cigarettes, and has thus banned them from the country. You cannot produce, sell, or advertise any electronic cigarettes in Mexico.
New Zealand: Like Australia, New Zealanders have a tiered system where only non-nicotine e-cig products are widely available. Nicotine products require manufacturer licensing under the nation’s Medicines Act.
Norway: Like Belgium, nicotine e-cigs cannot be sold in Norway. They can, however, be purchased from other countries within the EU, as long as they are for personal use.
Oman: Oman has banned these products altogether.
Panama: In Panama, electronic cigarette devices cannot be imported or sold.
Qatar: These products are completely banned in Qatar.
Singapore: The country prohibits importation and sale of e-cig products.
South Africa: The South Africans also have a tiered system where nicotine e-cigs are ostensibly banned. However, there appears to be no enforcement and they are evidently sold on a fairly widespread basis.
Sweden: Nicotine-free e-cigs are allowed, but nicotine refills are banned.
Taiwan: The island nation has effectively banned all electronic cigarettes by mandating that they acquire licensing before they can be sold or distributed.
Thailand: The government of Thailand has placed a complete ban on these products.
Turkey: In Turkey, these products cannot be advertised or sold.
United Arab Emirates: Like Turkey, the UAE has banned the sale of e-cigs.
Uruguay: This country has enacted a complete ban on these products.
Venezuela: The Venezuelan government has implemented a ban, and threatened to fine distributors and promoters of these products.
In addition to these complete and partial national bans, there are more localized bans in place around the world, as well as a host of tight regulatory restrictions. There is positive news too, as various countries have overturned bans in recent years, even as others have imposed new restrictions. This is truly a story that will continue to unfold over the coming months and years.