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The availability, marketing and use of electronic cigarettes or nicotine vapourisers is subject to a range of regulations across different countries, varying from the prohibition of sales and use, to little or no regulation.1 The most common approach adopted in countries that permit some use of e-cigarettes has been to adapt existing laws or frameworks designed for tobacco products to include e-cigarettes. This can include extending bans on tobacco advertising to e-cigarettes, applying the same age of sale laws or taxing e-cigarettes like tobacco.2 In some jurisdictions including many Canadian provinces and US states, existing smoke-free public places laws have also been amended to include e-cigarettes, so that vaping is prohibited wherever tobacco cannot be used—including enclosed public places, workplaces and some outdoor areas. But is this the right approach, and is it supported by research evidence?
In the UK, a country with 2.8 million vapers (and 9 million smokers), policymakers have taken the decision not to legislate to ban e-cigarette use in all public places and workplaces.2 This is the case in all parts of the UK (Scotland, Wales, England and Northern Ireland) despite different approaches to considering the issue and different regulatory frameworks. In England and Scotland in particular, decisions have been taken by governments that extending smoke-free laws to include e-cigarettes is neither desirable nor necessary to protect the health of the population.
The reasons for this are complex but relate to at least …
Competing interests PH has provided consultancy for and received research funding from manufacturers of stop smoking medications. The other authors have no competing interests.
Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.