It isn’t against the law to vape anywhere in the UK. Since July 2007, there have been laws about where it’s legal for you to smoke, but the government hasn’t extended these laws to cover vaping. So does that mean you have a right to vape wherever you like? The simple answer is- no, you don’t.
Every property owner in the UK has a right to decide what activities are acceptable on their premises and as long as they’re not breaking any anti-discrimination laws, they are perfectly within their rights to ask you to leave their property if you break their rules- it’s as simple as that. This means is that if you’re in a bar or restaurant, and the staff tell you that you’re not allowed to vape, you can’t argue with them.
Because vaping is such a relatively new activity, many people are unsure of the correct etiquette- especially as vaping so closely resembles tobacco smoking; it makes life easier for bar owners for instance, to impose a total ban on vaping indoors, simply because it is easy for them to enforce. Having said that, there are many enlightened establishments who will allow considerate vaping on their premises.
Social etiquette experts Debrett’s have even issued a guide to polite vaping, with being courteous and asking permission featuring highly on their agenda. I think that vapers need to just use commonsense and always be considerate towards others when vaping in public. Some people want us treated just like smokers; others are more tolerant. It’s up to each of us to make sure that we win the current debate over vaping and one way we can do that is by being considerate of others and showing respect.
Most people, if you ask politely and don’t blow huge plumes of vapour everywhere, will be happy enough to let you vape, so the best thing to do is ask. If you go into a pub or restaurant, ask if they have a policy on vaping. If you do this straightaway and they tell you that vaping is not allowed you can then take your money somewhere else, which ought to make them think! The important thing is that if someone tells you that you can’t vape on their property, they’re within their rights and so arguing with them is a bad idea- you will just end up hardening their anti-vaping attitudes.
- Check with staff before you start vaping in bars or other public settings. Although you may be allowed to legally vape indoors, this ultimately falls down to whether the management allow it in their establishment.
- Don’t cloud-chase in public places- even if you are in a bar or pub that allows vaping, it isn’t a good idea to show off by blowing clouds of vapour. If the pub is busy, somebody is bound to complain and that might then lead to a total vaping ban. Even if you’re walking outdoors, people will rightly object if they suddenly have to walk through a thick cloud of custard scented vapour- I know that I would! People do expect to see a moderately sized cloud from an e-cig though and the majority probably aren’t too bothered by it, but do be considerate towards others.
- Don’t vape in places where it will disturb others, such as the cinema or in restaurants. No one wants plumes of vapour blown into their faces when they’re trying to enjoy a nice meal or watch a movie.
- Respect vaping laws in places like aircraft and trains. Although you might be able to get away with stealth vaping or nipping into a toilet cubicle at work, sensitive smoke alarms fitted in aircraft toilets and on trains can be triggered by e-cig vapour, and I’m sure you don’t want to be responsible for creating a false fire alarm, which is also likely to get you fined and blacklisted by the airline.
- Never attack smokers- you were one of them until recently so never take a holier-than-thou attitude towards smokers. You might even remember how the nagging from non-smokers made you feel more determined to continue smoking? It’s best to mind your own business, but if any smokers are curious and ask you about vaping, answer their questions as honestly as you can but never try to evangelize or preach to them. Everybody does things in their own time- including you!