E-Cigarette Bans: Where Can You Legally Use E-Cigs?

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We’ve committed a good amount of bandwidth to discussing (and often condemning) e-cigarette policy on these pages. And with good reason: we’ve watched an endless stream of anti-vaping propaganda dominate the news, most of which is riddled with fear-mongering and lacks any substantive evidence.

It’s exhausting, really. But, unfortunately, this is the world we live in, and the fight we need to endure until scientific proof of e-cig safety and effectiveness come to light. In the meantime, we are forced to adhere to a growing list of vaping bans, on both the local and state levels. It can be confusing, especially when you find yourself somewhere with unclear vaping policies.

The Internet is chock-full of smoking ban listings and resources, but we thought we’d try and summarize them here, so you know exactly where you stand when you want to vape away from home.

E-Cig Bans Across the US

E-cig bans in the United States

Some states have laws that restrict the use of e-cigs in completely smoke-free venues, which includes office buildings, sports arenas (including those with no designated smoking areas), and even public parks. Cities restricting the use of electronic cigarettes in public places include major urban centers like Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and New York City.

The restriction in Philadelphia treats e-cigs just like regular cigarettes, including prohibiting the sale of them to minors. In L.A. e-cigarettes are banned in public places, except vaping lounges, and nightclubs and bars which choose to allow their use.

On a slightly smaller scale, Utah, New Jersey and North Dakota prohibit the use of e-cigs in workplaces, restaurants and bars. In North Dakota, you can add all state gambling facilities to that list. If there are no state or local bans that specify workplace usage, use common sense, read our e-cigarette office protocol blog for guidance.

Related: Outdoor Vaping Bans in the U.S.

More Specific E-Cig Laws

US laws banning vaping

Other states’ laws can become more specific. In Arkansas and New Hampshire, e-cigarettes are banned from use on school properties. Similarly, in Colorado, the term “tobacco products” has been redefined to include e-cigarettes, for the purpose of prohibiting them on school grounds, unless the FDA eventually approves e-cigarettes as cessation devices.

Delaware laws prohibit e-cigarettes within all state workplaces, including buildings and grounds, parking lots, and vehicles owned by the state, and/or operated on state workplace property.

Hawaii has banned e-cigarettes on all Department of Health properties, while Maryland has (unsurprisingly) banned them on commuter trains. Oregon state employees are restricted from using them in government buildings, and on adjoining properties.

Somewhat interesting is how Oklahoma and South Dakota have prohibited e-cigarettes in any Department of Corrections facilities, by staff or inmates, on the grounds, or in department vehicles. Given the problematic commoditization of tobacco cigarettes within prison walls, e-cigarettes seem like a comparatively better, less volatile alternative.

Related: California Pushes to Ban Vaping at Public Parks and Beaches

Locality-Specific E-Cig Bans

In many states that have no broad-reaching laws prohibiting e-cigarettes (and several that do), local governments have still implemented specific policies within their towns. Some states have municipality-specific exceptions in place, such as the ability to use e-cigs in private domiciles and vape shops. Please refer to The American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation’s (ANRF) guide to local and national e-cig laws for more specific details.

[Note: The ANRF is staunchly opposed to the use of electronic cigarettes. However, this guide is nonetheless thorough, reliable and regularly updated.]

Related: Top Places to Vape in the US

Slight Exceptions to E-Cig Bans

Exceptions stamp

In an interesting decision, Chicago – despite prohibiting e-cigs across all smoke-free facilities – has made an exception allowing them to be used in theater performances. Good news for fans of musicals, to be sure, but it is unclear as to what constitutes “theater performance,” so don’t go puffing away at “Lady Gaga Unplugged” until you’re 100% sure of the facility rules.

In Utah, vaping is permitted in e-cig stores until July 1, 2017. No determination has been made on what will follow. Nor has any information been offered to explain the somewhat arbitrary timeframe.

Coconino County, Arizona has banned electronic cigarettes in public places, but the ordinance only applies to unincorporated, less-trafficked areas. Again, little information is easily available for determining what qualifies as “unincorporated.”

Several cities in Texas have recently banned the product within certain places. The town of Bedford, Texas bans e-cigs in areas where smoking is already prohibited. Georgetown, Texas also banned the use of any electronic vaping device in public places, and areas that originally prohibited cigarettes.

More E-Cig Bans to Come

More e-cig bans ahead sign

Like it or not, e-cig bans are increasing throughout the country. While most outdoor sports facilities – which do not allow re-entry upon leaving the venue – have yet to establish bans for their properties, Petco Park in San Diego now prohibits e-cigarettes inside the ballpark. You can expect other facilities to follow suit…quickly.

One question that looms large is whether “cig-a-like” e-cigs, like White Cloud Cirrus and Fling models, will be subject to the same policies as advanced personal vaporizers, like mods and large battery devices.

The lack of established standards for this “homebrew” e-liquid creation and cartridge/tank filling makes that sector of the market a point of concern for the entire industry, even if it shares little in common with major manufacturers that employ automated procedures and proper safety measures.

Until federal regulation is firmly established, you can expect e-cig use laws to vary from town to town, (and often within the same town). This is a confusing, inconvenient reality that will likely continue, until research provides irrefutable proof that e-cigs are safer than tobacco, and should not be viewed in the same manner as traditional cigarettes.

Related: E-Cig Vapor vs. Tobacco Smoke: Which is More Harmful?