Councils Ban Smoking Outside Venues, But Where Does Vape Fit In?

Councils Ban Smoking Outside Venues, But Where Does Vape Fit In?

We all love beer garden drinks and an outdoors meal at the best of times, but thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, alfresco socialising has become even more popular.

Across the country, local councils have been granting additional pavement and outdoors licenses to bars, pubs, cafes and restaurants to allow increased social distancing measures and help venues welcome customers back in a safe fashion.

As part of these extended licenses, several councils in England have added smoking bans to these outdoors spaces.

However, there’s no mention of vape either way – but the restrictions fail to highlight 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. And what is concerning is that many venues in recent years have been making their own decisions to include vape in smoke-free policies. But we don’t agree with this, and the research points in vaping’s favour too.


A new study from University College London highlights the use e-cig use in spaces where smoking is banned – a timely publication this week as the conversation around smoking bans in hospitality venues hit the press.

Local authorities already cracking down on smoking in outdoors hospitality spaces include Durham, Manchester, Newcastle, North Tyneside and Northumberland, with Oxford considering a similar ban. However, while Sheffield City Council is looking into smoking restrictions, one councillor there has spoken up in favour of vaping’s role in tobacco harm reduction in supporting smokers’ switch away from cigarettes.

Lead researcher on the UCL study, Dr Sarah Jackson 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 is 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 is sure to have an impact on public health.