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Legal Trends

Information on this page has not been verified, please double check with appropriate government agencies if you need reliable up to date facts.

* Note – No medical licenses have been issued for any ecig or liquid nicotine product (April 2011), so where licenses and prescriptions are said to be required a ban is in place.


ARGENTINA: Resolution 3226/2011 bans the importation, distribution, commercialization and advertising of e-cigartettes and paraphernalia related to them.…

AUSTRALIA: Nicotine is classed as a poison and poison legislation applies to ecigs. Sale and marketing in all states and territories is prohibited.…. (2008)… (2008)

AUSTRIA: Electronic cigarettes are considered medical devices and nicotine cartridges medicinal products. Nicotine cartridges may not be sold without license*.

BELGIUM: Banned.

BRAZIL: Regulates as tobacco product. Import, sale and marketing are prohibited. (2009)

BRUNEI: Sales prohibited because it is an imitation of a tobacco product and a fine of $10,000 can be imposed.… (2010)

CANADA: Ecigs may not be imported, advertised or sold.… (2009)

CHINA: Sale and use of ecigs is legal.

COLOMBIA: Banned.…

CZECH REPUBLIC: Electronic cigarette marketing and use are unrestricted.

DENMARK: Marketing and distribution of ecigs is banned. (2008)

EUROPEAN UNION: Directive 2001/95/EC(6) on general product safety applies in so far as there are no specific provisions with the same objective in other EC law. This directive provides for restrictive or preventive measures to be taken if the product is found to be dangerous to the health and safety of consumers. Whether ecigs could be regarded as falling under Directive 93/42/EEC on medical devices depends on the claimed intended use and whether this intended use has a medical purpose. ”It is for each national authority to decide, account being taken of all the characteristics of the product, whether it falls within the definition of a medicinal product by its function or presentation.“… (2008)

Results of enforcement of The General Product Safety Directive (GPSD) can be seen by going to this link and searching for ‘nicotine’ or ‘electronic cigarettes’ –

Electronic cigarettes may fall under the definition of a medicinal product laid down in Directive 2001/83/EC, either if the product is presented as a remedy against nicotine addiction or if it is qualified as restoring, correcting or modifying physiological functions.… (2010)

The Tobacco Products Directive is currently being revised, it is possible that all nicotine containing products will officially be defined as tobacco or medical products (with associated restrictions) for the whole EU.

FRANCE: Ecigs and nicotine liquid are considered to be consumer goods regulated with general product safety regulations unless they meet the criteria for medical licensing –
if they claim to be for smoking cessation;
or the amount of nicotine in the cartridge is greater than or equal to 10 mg;
or the concentration of eliquid for refilling is more than or equal to 20 mg / ml.…

FINLAND: Cartridges containing nicotine are illegal to sell or to purchase with intent to sell. For personal use a doctor’s prescription is required by Customs officials from importers of licensed cartridges containing nicotine*.… (2010)……

GERMANY: No restrictions on possession and use; no restrictions known on sales. However, the legal situation has not yet been settled, Customs officials in some states of the Federal Republic of Germany class e-cigs or eliquid containing nicotine medicinal products and do stop commercial or personal imports at the respective customs border (= EU outer border).

GREECE: The law on protection from tobacco and alcohol bans the marketing of e-cigarettes unless a Ministerial decision authorises them under certain conditions*.… (page 3) (2009)

HONG KONG: Ecigs containing nicotine are classified as poison products and prohibited.…. (2009)

INDONESIA: Banned.… (2010)

IRAN: Possibly a ban there because of the ingredients in eliquid.

ISRAEL: Banned, both the import and sale of the product, including those that are marketed as nicotine-free. (2009)

ITALY: “Categoria e-cigarettes (including those with nicotine) are the only one approved by the Italian Institute of Health. However, precise legislation (particularly in relation to the liquid contained in the e-cig) does not currently exist (neither in Italy nor at a global level) and this will be required at some stage to guarantee the safety of consumers. We are now working towards this direction.”… (2011)

JAPAN: Ecigs with nicotine are banned because they are classed as unlicensed medical products.… (2010)

JORDAN: Banned, import and sale of electronic cigarettes including nicotine-free products. (2009)

Republic of KOREA: Allowed but heavily taxed (2009)

LATVIA: E-cigarettes may be sold to individuals at least 18 years old.

MALAYSIA: Electronic cigarettes are considered medical devices and nicotine cartridges medicinal products. They will be available for purchase over the counter at a pharmacy with proper prescription if medical licenses can be obtained*.

MALTA: Ecigs fall under the Tobacco Act. They cannot be advertised, they cannot be smoked in enclosed public spaces and they can only be used by adults over the age of 18. (2010)

MAURITIUS: Possibly banned by the Public Health Act.
4. “No person shall sell, offer to sell or distribute – … (f) sweets, snacks, toys or any other object in the form of, or which are likely to create an association with, cigarettes or cigars. ”…

MEXICO: Sale, production, distribution, importation or advertisement of any kind are forbidden because the design is too similar to a tobacco product.

NETHERLANDS: Advertising is forbidden.

NEW ZEALAND: Non-nicotine starter kits can be sold and advertised along with nicotine-free cartridges. Nicotine-containing cartridges and liquid are classed as medicines. Until such time as the manufacturer or distributor of the product submits an application, the product is an unapproved medicine and its distribution would be an offence under Section 20 of the Medicines Act. The delivery device, without the nicotine cartridge, may be sold on its own as long as no therapeutic claims are made. (2011)
A counter argument is being made that sales can be allowed as a non-medicinal, recreational tobacco product under the Smoke-free Environments Act. (2010) (2009)

NORWAY: The Norwegian Tobacco Act forbids the import and sale of new tobacco products and/or nicotine products, a classification that they claim encompasses ecig products.…… (2010)

PANAMA: Importation, distribution and sale is prohibited.… (2009)

SINGAPORE: Ban on e-cigarette importation, distribution and sales under Section 16 (1) of the Tobacco (Control of Advertisements and Sale) Act, enforced by the Health Sciences Authority (HSA). Prohibits the importation, distribution, sale or offer for sale of any confectionery or other food product or any toy or other article designed to resemble a tobacco product or packaging which is designed to resemble the packaging commonly associated with tobacco products. Fine is of up to $5, 000 upon conviction.… (2010)

SOUTH AFRICA: Electronic cigarette marketing and use are currently unrestricted but the medicines authority is considering capturing the nicotine market with medical licensing laws.

SWEDEN: E-cigarettes and nicotine-free cartridges may be sold, but nicotine cartridges are prohibited.

SWITZERLAND: Electronic cigarettes containing nicotine may not be marketed in Switzerland but an electronic cigarette and 40 replacement cartridges containing nicotine may be bought for personal use. Electronic cigarettes without nicotine (and no mention of therapeutic properties) can be marketed in Switzerland only if the distributor has taken the necessary measures to ensure product safety. (2009)…

TAJIKISTAN: Electronic cigarette use is currently unrestricted.


TURKEY: Sale and advertising banned. (2008) (2008)

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES (including Dubai): Trade and sale of e-cigarettes banned.… (2011)… (2009)

UNITED KINGDOM: If ecigs are marketed as a smoking cessation aid, they must be licensed as a medicine by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency. As a smoking alternative, however, the use of ecigs is currently unrestricted by medical and tobacco control legislation.
As general sales products CE mark standards, The Poisons Act 1972, The General Product Safety Regulations 2005 and CHIP (packaging) regulations apply. (2011)
A review of this policy is currently underway and expected to formalise classification in spring 2013

UNITED STATES: Electronic cigarettes are unregulated tobacco products. The FDA has announced that it intends to assert authority over products that meet the statutory definition of “tobacco products” under the 2009 tobacco regulation law. This includes regulating e-cigarettes as tobacco products, as the appeals court suggested when they tried to regulate ecigs under medical legislation. (April 2011)
Electronic Cigarettes: How They Are – and Could Be – Regulated (July 2011)

The U.S. Department of Transportation interprets existing federal regulations against smoking on airplanes to apply to e-cigarettes.The U.S. Air Force stated that e-cigarette use would be governed by the same regulations that limit the use of tobacco products in the Air Force, including prohibitions on their use in workplaces and public spaces that are not designated smoking – Sale of any products containing nicotine to minors & displaying the product near candy is banned.California – Sottera (NJOY) agreed an out of court settlement on a case brought by the Attorney General, this may set a precedent on acceptable conditions of sale. (2010)Kansas – The Attorney General has decided that ecigs do not produce smoke and are not covered by the Kansas Indoor Clean Air Act (2011)Minnesota – Sale of any products containing nicotine to minors & displaying the product near candy is banned.New Hampshire – Sale of any products containing nicotine to minors & displaying the product near candy is banned.New Jersey – There is a ban on selling to people under 19 years of age and e-cigarettes are included in the New Jersey Smoke Free Air Act which prohibits smoking in indoor public places and workplaces.… (2010)

Oregon – Sales to minors are banned.
Also, electronic cigarettes may not be sold in Oregon unless there is competent and reliable scientific evidence to support the product’s safety claims. In addition, the companies must give the Attorney General advance notice that they intend to sell electronic cigarettes in Oregon, provide copies of all electronic cigarette advertising, and provide copies of the scientific studies they maintain substantiates their claims. The ecig company Smoking Everywhere has been banned from trading in Oregon because of violations of the Unlawful Trade Practices Act. (2010)Utah – has banned ecigs for young people, prisoners and people in facilities for ‘help’ with mental health problems. (2010)Virginia – ecigs are officially not covered by smoking ban legislation.Washington – The King County Board of Health has banned use of electronic cigarettes in public places. Stores are also banned from selling to minors.… URUGUAY: Banned…

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