If you’re an electronic cigarette smoker, you’ll enjoy today’s guest post. Mark Benson enlightens us with where Europe is at regarding the tolerance of e-cig smoking.
The subject of electronic cigarettes has been in the news during the last few months of 2013 where projections were made that the market would be worth around $3 billion in annual sales. We also have seen movement in Europe regarding electronic cigarettes being regulated by individual countries on a case-by-case basis. There are a number of caveats which could see blanket regulations introduced in the event that three or more countries within Europe act in unison.
The issue of using electronic cigarettes on holiday is one which is crossing the minds of more and more people as their popularity continues to grow. So, what is the situation regarding electronic cigarettes use across Europe and are you able to use them while travelling?
E-Cig Travel Restrictions
While electronic cigarettes are not in any way impacted by smoking bans across Europe, and indeed across the world, a number of airlines have banned them from in-flight use. This comes at a time when Heathrow airport has actually opened an electronic cigarette lounge specifically for those who wish to “vapour” while waiting for their plane to arrive. The main problem seems to be the fact that tobacco smokers feel alienated in some way by the fact that technically electronic cigarette users have no legal barriers for use. However, it is worth noting that individual companies, whether in travel, leisure, food, etc, can introduce their own guidelines for electronic cigarettes.
The issue of secondary smoking is one which also attracts a variety of different comments and opinions. At this moment in time there is no evidence that electronic cigarettes, which effectively create flavoured water, offer any risk with regards to secondary smoking. We will see further medical trials in due course which will clarify the situation and again this is a potential reason why so many airlines are not overly keen on electronic cigarettes at the moment. The situation is very similar with regards to ferries, buses and other forms of transport across Europe, therefore if you are looking to holiday this year it would be sensible to check the specific rules and regulations with your holiday company and country of destination.
Using electronic cigarettes in public
Interestingly the subject of using electronic cigarettes in public has attracted a whole variety of different opinions. On one hand we have the Italian authorities which specifically introduced regulations which allow electronic cigarettes to be used in public while the French government is looking to effectively ban them out right. The French government moved one step closer to this particular aspiration when the French courts upheld a legal challenge from tobacconists across France who suggested their business was being impacted by electronic cigarettes.
The French court ruling effectively handed control of the electronic cigarette industry to state registered tobacconists although this ruling has been challenged by a variety of different parties. This perfectly illustrates the very different opinions and regulations across Europe with regards to electronic cigarettes and while much of this is down to mistruths and rumours surrounding their safety, the situation is fluid and changing on a regular basis. Those within the industry are very keen for long-term medical trials to clarify mistruths and rumours which have continued to hound the industry since it became popular around three or four years ago.
While the “pleasure” of smoking tobacco cigarettes in public places was withdrawn from the European marketplace some time ago there is the potential for electronic cigarette use in certain areas of Europe. The majority of travel companies are often unwilling to encourage electronic cigarette use despite the fact they are perfectly legal across the region. You have to wonder whether companies and governments would be so negative about electronic cigarettes if it was not for tobacco cigarette users who are comparing both products despite their obvious differences.
Slowly but surely the regulatory landscape for electronic cigarettes is emerging, the two-way battle between supporters and critics of electronic cigarettes is gathering pace and we will eventually see a blanket regulatory regime across Europe. However, at this moment in time, as we suggested above, it is highly advisable to research the policy of individual holiday companies and individual resorts and regions of Europe in relation to their treatment of electronic cigarettes. Do not get caught out!
Country Regulations on Electronic Cigarettes
The French authorities have taken a hard line on electronic cigarettes perhaps due to the fact that the tobacco cigarette industry is government-controlled and a monopoly between the authorities and tobacco retailers. A recent French court ruling dealt a major setback to the electronic cigarette industry in France effectively handing control to tobacco retailers who will be the only businesses able to sell electronic cigarettes in France. The court ruling is being challenged by an array of different parties.
The Italian authorities have taken a slightly different approach to electronic cigarettes with some local governments using existing legislation to make electronic cigarettes legal for use in public places. Italy is perhaps one of the only countries within Europe to introduce specific laws protecting the right to use electronic cigarettes in public and it will be interesting to see which other governments follow suit.
The Spanish approach to electronic cigarettes is similar to that of their Italian counterparts with very little in the way of restrictions about where and when you can use electronic cigarettes. This will be a great relief to the millions of holidaymakers heading for Spanish shores in the future. It will be interesting to see how this policy develops and whether indeed other countries take a similar approach.
We are starting to see a pattern emerging within Europe on the subject of electronic cigarettes with very few in the way of restrictions within Portugal. Portugal, Italy and Spain have taken a rather liberal approach to electronic cigarettes which will be well received by visitors to their various holiday resorts. Recent developments regarding European wide electronic cigarette regulations will effectively hand control to individual countries and individual governments.
The UK authorities have been fairly quiet on the subject of electronic cigarettes and at this moment in time they do not come under tobacco cigarette restrictions introduced by the smoking ban. While various parties have been calling for further tests and a banning of electronic cigarettes in public places, so far the authorities have taken a relaxed approach. This is something that will be well received by the millions of visitors to the UK.
The policy towards electronic cigarettes across Europe is in disarray at the moment with various parties for and against use in public places. Austria, Denmark, Norway, Belgium and Turkey are some of the countries which have banned electronic cigarettes at this moment in time. However, this may change as the European wide regulatory policy for electronic cigarettes continues to emerge.
About the Author
Mark Benson is in charge of the online branding for OKCigs.co.uk which is a retailer of electronic cigarettes. If you have any questions or any queries about electronic cigarettes please feel free to visit the website.
What are your thoughts on electronic cigarette use in public places?