What is the legal situation of Vapes and E-Cigarettes in Pakistan, and What are the current laws covering this subject.
As E-cigarettes continue to gain popularity in Pakistan, many wonder about their legal status in the country. We have had many queries from new users looking to switch to this safer alternative to smoking. Therefore, we decided to give this issue some attention and make things as clear as possible.
What are the laws regarding vaping in Pakistan?
First of all, there is no official government policy in Pakistan that covers this topic. Let’s have a look at the current situation in Pakistan.
As of 2023, the sale of e-cigarettes is allowed. There are no restrictions on the use; advertising, promotion and sponsorship; or packaging and labeling of e-cigarettes. source
Currently, there are numerous online and physical vape shops operating in Pakistan selling vaping devices and e-liquids along with other e-cigarette related supplies and accessories. Since no laws are covering or regulating such businesses, most stores are operating trouble-free so far.
ALL vape stores in Pakistan have an age policy, where they do not serve customers under the age of 18. Most require a valid form of identification if the retailer feels that the user is underage.
Why should Pakistan continue to allow electronic cigarettes?
As the vaping trend continues to grow in Pakistan, many worry about the legal future of vaping in Pakistan. So far, there is enough evidence to suggest that vaping is way safer than tobacco smoking. Many countries worldwide have allowed and regulated electronic cigarettes, citing their reduced harmfulness compared with tobacco.
Additionally, since there is a Shisha ban all over Pakistan introduced due to serious health concerns posed by shisha smoke, vaping is now seen as a safer option.
In tobacco smoke, we find thousands of harmful chemicals; electronic cigarette vapours carry just a few chemicals. Tobacco gives out smoke; electronic cigarettes give out clean vapours!
Pakistan has a considerable smoking population, and hundreds of thousands die every year due to cancer caused by tobacco smoke. Therefore, electronic cigarettes are an ideal opportunity for people to quit the dangerous habit of smoking and switch to vaping.
The government of Pakistan spends billions every year on its health services, and a lot of that money goes to tobacco users’ health care. If people start making a switch, fewer people will contract such diseases, namely cancer, reducing strain on the government’s pocket.
In many western countries, doctors continue to argue that vaping is one of the safest alternatives to smoking and should be prescribed to users looking to quit the smelly and unhealthy habit of smoking.
However, the big tobacco industry continues to lobby against electronic cigarettes, as they fear losing out on their big business, which risks the lives of thousands of users.
Shisha Vs Vape – What is the difference between the two.
The most common question a vaper is asked today when spotted vaping.
“is it a shisha?”
so, let’s be clear: SHISHA IS NOT THE SAME AS A VAPE
Shisha uses tobacco flavours and gets the heat to burn that flavour with the help of charcoal, which results in the shisha smoke being polluted with thousands of harmful and toxic chemicals, at levels not safe for human use. On the other hand, vaping devices use vegetable glycerine & propylene glycol as their main ingredient, using food flavours. Nicotine is always optional, depending on the user’s needs.
So far, studies have been evident that the vapours from an electronic cigarette are 98% safer than tobacco cigarettes and Shisha since there is no carbon monoxide along with other dangerous chemicals that are highly poisonous. There is, however, a widespread misconception that nicotine is the main reason that makes cigarettes and Shisha harmful.
Well, that’s far from the truth. Nicotine is not as harmful as we think it is and is not the main cancer-causing compound found in tobacco smoke. Tobacco smoke contains many harmful chemicals, including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (benzopyrene), tobacco-specific nitrosamines (NNK, NNN), aldehydes (acrolein, formaldehyde), carbon monoxide, hydrogen cyanide, nitrogen oxides, benzene, toluene, phenols (phenol, cresol), aromatic amines (nicotine, ABP (4-Aminobiphenyl)), and harmala alkaloids. The radioactive element polonium-210 is also known to occur in tobacco smoke. The chemical composition of smoke depends on puff frequency, intensity, volume, and duration at different stages of cigarette consumption. None of which is present in vape clouds.
So if you are looking to quit the filthy tobacco smoking habit and move to a safer alternative to smoking, vaping is your best bet!
Electronic cigarettes are not the same as Hookah.
Since 2015, Pakistan has wholly banned the commercial use of Shisha. The ban targeted shisha café’s and bars, citing severe health-related concerns. Most of the government’s concerns were true since Shisha uses charcoal and tobacco, burning at great heat and leaving out thousands of toxic chemicals to the user’s lungs.
Additionally, since 2017, authorities further extended the ban to import and sell any shisha-related supplies.
How to quit smoking through vaping electronic cigarettes.
With electronic cigarettes gaining popularity over the last decades, many smokers have successfully quit the smelly smoking habit in favour of clean e-cigarette vapours. Although a simple approach is to stop smoking and move to vape, many find this approach very difficult, especially long-term users, who have developed a powerful addiction to tobacco smoke and revert to smoking within a few days of trying.
Therefore, we recommend a step by step approach to make it an easy and pleasant journey towards a clean and healthy lifestyle.
We recommend starting with Pod Kits, also known as MTL vapes. These devices are made with a smoker in mind and mimick the draw and nicotine similar to a cigarette.
You can couple your pod kit with nicotine salt e-liquid, which are available in a wide variety of flavours and nicotine strengths.
How can Pakistan benefit from Electronic Cigarettes as a safe alternative to tobacco smoking?
As per reports, Pakistanis smoke 177 million cigarettes every day. Smoking resulted in thousands of premature deaths and numerous diseases and illnesses. Smoking-related illnesses are placing a burden on an already undersupplied health system.
So far, the evidence suggests that vaping is much safer than smoking; since Pakistan has a very high consumption of cigarettes, many are now making a switch for good.
With a reduced number of smokers, there is a very positive chance that more people with continue to switch to safer alternatives to smoking.
Vaping Scene in Pakistan.
Pakistan has one of the biggest smoker populations in the World. The World Health Organisation reports millions of deaths in the country attributed to tobacco smoking. With rising awareness among the youth of Pakistan, particularly, those who reside in urban areas, more and more users are willing to quit cigarettes.
However, with a lack of government-supported programmes helping the youth quit, many users are left with no option but to continue smoking. With the recent introduction to the Pakistani market, electronic cigarettes, also called vapes, have gained popularity in Pakistan. They now function as the primary alternative to smoking. Already, thousands of users have made a successful transition to e-cigarettes, which is a much safer alternative to smoking.
Increased purchasing power, western influence, proximity to China, which is the largest supplier of e-cigarettes globally, have all contributed to the rise in the use of electronic cigarettes. The availability of affordable vape starter kits has also allowed more smokers to make a switch.
Walking around the urban centres, including but not limited to Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Multan, Faisalabad & Rawalpindi. One can spot a lot of users vaping instead of smoking.
Additionally, like-minded individuals frequently meet vape shops located in almost all major cities of Pakistan, where they tend to socialize and connect with like-minded individuals.
The legal situation of Vaping in other countries
The legal status of e-cigarettes is currently pending in many countries. Judging by the following countries, it is safe to assume that electronic cigarettes are widely legal but primarily regulated in major world economies.
Following is a list of countries or regions where Electronic cigarettes and nicotine e-liquids are either legally allowed, legal, de facto legal, or without much regulation.
Disclaimer: The legal situation related to electronic cigarettes is evolving rapidly, and things may change with time. We bear no liability with relation to the information provided. For up to date information, check with the official government websites in the respective. jurisdictions
Legal and Regulated
In February 2014, the European Parliament passed regulations requiring standardization and quality control for liquids and vaporizers, disclosing ingredients in e-liquids, and child-proofing and tamper-proofing for liquid packaging. In April 2014, the FDA published proposed regulations for e-cigarettes. Some states tax e-cigarettes as tobacco products in the US, and some state and regional governments have broadened their indoor smoking bans to include e-cigarettes. As of October 9 2015, at least 48 states and two territories banned e-cigarette sales to minors.
Legal and Regulated
As per USA (federal law) Effective August 8, 2016, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) mandates electronic cigarettes products to be regulated as tobacco products. The FDA rule also bans sales to minors. The FDA classified e-cigarettes as drug delivery devices and subject to regulation under the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA) before importation and sale in the US – (for state laws we suggest you visit the state’s website for more detailed understanding of each state, since state laws in USA can vary substantially).
In Canada, they are technically illegal to sell, as Health Canada approves no nicotine-containing e-cigarette, but this is generally unenforced and they are commonly available for sale Canada-wide.
Legal and Regulated
In the United Kingdom, the use, sale and advertising of e-cigarettes are legal, and e-cigarettes are not covered by laws restricting smoking in public places. However, businesses may choose to ban e-cigarettes as well. A notable example is “Transport for London”, banning smoking and vaping as their Conditions of Carriage. Most trains (and train platforms), airports, and coaches for public transportation have prohibited the use of e-cigarettes. Effective October 1 2015, it is illegal to sell e-cigarettes or e-liquids to minors. In 2014 the government announced legislation would be brought forward to outlaw the purchase of e-cigarettes by people under the age of 18. In October 2014, the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority changed the regulations on e-cigarette advertising, allowing the devices to appear in TV ads from November 10
United Arab Emirates
Ban lifted in April 2019
UAE was among the first few countries in the World to ban electronic cigarettes. Including import and sale.
However, with the global change in attitude towards vaping, UAE reclassified it as a safer alternative to smoking. After months of debates discussions, UAE has finally allowed the sale and import of Vaping devices and nicotine e-liquids.
Sales will be legalized with standards in place for products, according to The National. Vapes will also carry health warnings similar to those on cigarette packages, and sales will probably be age-restricted like combustible products. Public use will be regulated by the government precisely as it is for cigarettes.
Legal status of Electronic cigarettes in other countries:
Armenia: There aren’t any rules for selling e-cigarettes and liquids, whether they have nicotine or not.
Bahrain: E-cigarettes can be imported and are taxed like regular tobacco products.
Bangladesh: E-cigarettes aren’t illegal, but the government is planning to ban their production, import, and sale to protect people’s health.
China: E-cigarettes are considered tobacco products. Sales to under 18s are banned, and non-tobacco flavored e-cigarettes can’t be sold.
East Timor: E-cigarettes are not allowed.
Hong Kong: The government bans the import, promotion, manufacture, sale, or possession of alternative smoking products for commercial purposes, with penalties including a fine and imprisonment.
India: The government banned e-cigarette sales and production in September 2019, and importing e-cigarettes is also illegal.
Indonesia: The government started taxing e-liquid in 2018 and expects the tax to bring in a good amount of money.
Iran: Selling or distributing e-cigarettes is against the law.
Israel: The Ministry of Health planned to extend existing smoking laws to e-cigarettes back in 2013, after warning against their use.
Japan: E-cigarettes with nicotine were banned in 2010, but non-nicotine e-cigarettes are still sold since there’s no regulation for them.
Kuwait: E-cigarettes became legal in 2016.
Malaysia: The National Fatwa Council declared e-cigarettes as forbidden in 2015. Although not legally binding, it has led to vaping bans in some states. The federal government started regulating e-liquid and vape sales to minors in 2018.
Nepal: E-cigarettes can be sold under existing cigarette laws.
Palestine: E-cigarette sales are banned, but regulations on use are unclear.
Philippines: The government regulates e-cigarette sales and use, banning sales to people under 18 years old.
Qatar: E-cigarettes have been illegal since 2014.
Saudi Arabia: Importing e-cigarettes is banned, except in small amounts for personal use. Public sale is also prohibited, but personal consumption is allowed for people over 18.
Singapore: E-cigarettes are prohibited, and those caught breaking the law can face a fine.
South Korea: E-cigarettes are legal but heavily taxed, and possession among teenagers is a concern.
Thailand: E-cigarettes have been banned since 2014.
Taiwan: E-cigarette sales and imports are illegal, and passengers can’t bring them into the country.
United Arab Emirates: E-cigarettes became legal in April 2019.
Turkey: Sales and importation of e-cigarettes are effectively banned, and they’re regulated like tobacco products. Vaping is also forbidden indoors, on public transport, and for people under 18.
As we can see, the sale and use of electronic cigarettes and e-liquids (nicotine or without) are either legal or unregulated in most of the World. There are, however, several countries where such substances are either banned or highly restricted. Some of these countries are as follows.
Criticisms of Vaping Bans
Critics of vaping bans argue that vaping is a safer alternative to smoking tobacco products and that such bans could push people back to smoking cigarettes. They point out a study in the British Journal of Family Medicine, which found e-cigarettes to be 95% safer than traditional smoking.
For example, San Francisco’s chief economist, Ted Egan, mentioned that the city’s ban on e-cigarette sales might increase smoking as vapers could switch back to regular cigarettes. Critics find it strange to criminalize the sale of a safer alternative while keeping tobacco legal. They believe people should have the choice to pick the products they want.
In 2022, the FDA denied Juul’s application to keep its tobacco and menthol-flavoured vaping products on the market after a two-year review. Critics argue that research published in Nicotine and Tobacco Research showed that smokers who switched to Juuls in North America were likelier to stick with vaping than those in the UK who only had access to lower-strength nicotine products.
They also mention that the Biden Administration is looking to mandate low-nicotine cigarettes, but critics say it’s not the nicotine that makes cigarettes dangerous. Instead, the combustion process and certain chemicals found in cigarettes but not in vape products pose the actual risk.
Vaping Banned or Highly Restricted:
- Saudi Arabia
The UAE has allowed the sale and import of Vaping devices and nicotine E-liquids from April 2019; other GCC countries will likely follow soon.