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As life continues to open back up after the lockdowns of the past year, smoking has been on the agenda of several councils across England.

Alfresco drinks and dinners have very much become a ‘thing’ in the UK since the COVID-19 pandemic, as family and friends gather once more to celebrate the easing of restrictions.

Where new pavement drinking and dining licences have been granted, allowing additional capacity in the wake of COVID-19, several councils have moved to ban smoking outside bars, cafes, pubs and restaurants.

There’s no mention of vape either way – but the restrictions fail to mention the positive impact vape can have in supporting adult smokers to find a less harmful alternative, as highlighted by Public Health England and the Royal College of Physicians.

Among the areas which have banned smoking in venues’ outdoors spaces are Durham, Manchester, Newcastle, North Tyneside and Northumberland. A similar ban could be on the cards in Oxford, while a smoking ban is being considered by Sheffield City Council – although one councillor there has spoken up in favour of vaping’s role in tobacco harm reduction in supporting smokers’ switch away from cigarettes.

What’s concerning, however, is that many venues in recent years have been making their own decisions to include vape in smoke-free policies.


Researcher Dr Sarah Jackson, from University College London, who has published a study into e-cig use in spaces where smoking is banned, said around 850,000 smokers in England would be affected by restrictions on the use of e-cigarettes in public places

She added: “It is possible that if e-cigarette use was banned completely in public places, smokers may be deterred from initiating or continuing use of e-cigarettes alongside combustible tobacco. This could undermine quitting.

“In making decisions on regulation of use of e-cigs in public places, there is a need to weigh what appear to be negligible risks to bystanders against the risk of deterring uptake of e-cig use as a potential route to quitting and the implications of this for population health.”


Including vaping with any ban on smoking in open air spaces would be a backwards step in tobacco harm reduction. For the millions of smokers still using cigarettes in the UK, knowing that vape is readily available and can be used in many more places than cigarettes is a big advantage when considering the switch to a less harmful alternative. Removing that motivation would likely impact on public health.

Vape retailers can play an important role in this conversation, and we would encourage you to ensure your local decision makers are well informed about the use of vape as an alternative to cigarettes, and to ensure clarity in their local restrictions.

What retailers can do to support customers in the face of local vape bans:

  • Invite your local licensing officials and councillors on licensing committees to your shop and run an education session on vape as an alternative.
  • Encourage your regular customers to write to the decision makers, explaining their journey from cigarettes to vaping and how it supported them in becoming smokefree.
  • Visit local hospitality venues where vaping has been banned, and offer to support owners in understanding the role vape plays in tobacco harm reduction.

If you decide to take any of these actions, or have other ideas of ways to promote vaping as a less harmful alternative within your local authority, and would like help from Dinner Lady in doing so, please contact your account manager.

Alternatively email or fill in the form below to get more information about stocking our premium vape products and the huge range of merchandising tools we can produce to educate consumers and your local communities.