E cigarettes are battery operated products designed to replicate smoking behaviour without the use of tobacco. Some look like conventional cigarettes, while others appear more like an electronic device.

They use heat to vaporise a liquid based solution containing nicotine into an aerosol mist and have been proposed as a way to help smokers quit the habit.

They are subject to limited regulation, and are not licensed as a medicine in the UK.

At the BMA’s annual meeting, our members agreed that e cigarettes should be included in the ban on smoking in public places.

Progress in European Parliament

In October 2013, the European Parliament passed a draft law to introduce a raft of measures aimed at curbing tobacco’s appeal to young people, including regulation of e cigarettes.

E cigarette proposals

  • E cigarettes would be regulated, but not to the same rules as medicinal products unless they are presented as having curative or preventative properties
  • E cigarettes for which no such claims are made should contain no more than 30mg/ml of nicotine, carry health warnings and should not be sold to those aged under 18 years
  • Manufacturers and importers would have to supply a list of all ingredients
  • E cigarettes would be subject to the same advertising restrictions as tobacco products.

Find out more


  • BMA briefing E cigarettes in public places and workplaces

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