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How to Vape in Public Etiquette

There are now more than 3 million people who vape in the UK. While vaping can be an alternative to cigarette smoking, the rules about when and where it’s OK to vape are not always clear.

Vuse commissioned some research to find out what people think is and is not socially acceptable when vaping in public.

One theme that shines through our findings is confusion. Almost six out of ten (58%) of the people within our sample who vape told us that they are unsure about the social etiquette around vaping; while a slightly bigger share (61%) agreed with the statement: ‘Vaping in public is a social minefield’.

Those who seek to find the correct and considerate way to act will be pleased to learn that, five years after it first released a guide to vaping etiquette, Debrett’s has once again teamed up with Vuse to update its advice on the correct, socially acceptable way to vape in public. You will find its seven useful tips for excellent vaping etiquette below.


We were pleased to see that our research findings show that most people who vape want to do the right thing and behave in a considerate way when vaping in public. For example, we asked what people do, or would do, if in a situation or place where it is not immediately clear whether or not they are allowed to vape. Almost four out of ten (38%) say they would ask if they can vape; and while a slightly larger group (40%) would assume they could not vape, so would not do so. Only 16% say they would vape unless someone actually told them it was prohibited.

It is also worth remembering that three-quarters of all respondents, including those who do not vape, said they thought that in a public setting someone wanting to vape should ask other people close by if they would mind if they vaped, in at least some situations (35%), or always (40%). This demonstrates the good sense, as well as good manners, in the first of Debretts tips for vapers: if in doubt, just ask.


There are no legal restrictions on vaping in public areas in the UK, although individual businesses, transport authorities and hospitality venues may have evolved their own policies. It is therefore important to be conscious and considerate, and to ask if vaping is acceptable if you are in a pub, restaurant, hotel, office, taxi or on public transport. If you are told that it is not permitted, take this news with good grace, and comply without complaining. If you make polite enquiries, people will appreciate your good manners and consideration.

In general, it is better not to vape in confined spaces so you can avoid blowing clouds of vapour into other people’s faces. It’s therefore best to avoid vaping in small spaces like lifts or public loos. It’s also not advisable to use a vaping device in hospitals or other healthcare settings. Yout want to respect other people’s personal space.

Clouds of vapour are a part of vaping, but engulfing others – or their surroundings – in a vape cloud is not socially acceptable. Moreover, blowing vapour into other people’s faces is an invasion of their personal space. While you may enjoy your own vape flavour, bear in mind that some of the smells can be strong and others may not appreciate them as much as you do.

If you vape, you may enjoy the choice of smells and accessories and be interested by the colour and shape of the vapour they produce. Fellow adult vapers may share your interest but be wary of indulging in lengthy monologues to people who do not have the same level of interest. Accept that there are many people who have no interest in vaping, so choose your audience with care. If your companions’ eyes glaze over and they start making excuses to get away, you will know for sure that you have turned into a vaping bore.

If someone is offering you hospitality, whether it is an invitation to their home or a lift in their car, you must observe the simple rules of guest etiquette. Always seek permission to vape first, and be a considerate vaper – open a window to air the room or car and don’t leave vaping equipment lying around. If your hosts request that you refrain from vaping, comply accordingly – it’s their space and therefore their prerogative.

Vapers shouldn’t vape while consuming food or drink. It is also advisable not to vape while cooking, or indeed watching somebody else cook, since for many people the smells are a major part of the pleasure of food preparation. For that same reason, it is anti-social to vape immediately after a meal, either at home or in a restaurant, when everybody is still savouring the tastes and smells of the food.

Refrain from vaping in professional situations unless your employer has given permission. If you are having a job interview or sitting through a difficult business meeting, it is advisable to eliminate anything that distracts from the meeting. Using a vape may make you look distracted, and colleagues and bosses might assume that you are not focused on the task in hand; the same rules apply on Zoom.

Recently we’ve all become much more aware of physical proximity. Some people feel comfortable being near others whilst others are a little more protective of their personal space and may therefore be less happy with people vaping around them. You may very well disagree with this attitude, but it is important to be receptive to others’ preferences and be willing to accommodate them.


Of all the sensible and considerate tips listed above, two of the most important must be: ‘Recognise when vaping is out of place’; and ‘Respect others views’. Eight out of ten people who vape (79%) agree with the statement ‘I am considerate of others when vaping’. We hope that is the case, but almost three quarters (74%) of people who vape also admit that they sometimes start vaping without considering whether people around them will mind. They include 50% of vapers who sometimes vape without thinking about other people’s preferences but say they do so unintentionally – which isn’t a good thing, because thoughtlessness is rudeness – and 24% who say that vaping without thinking about other peoples’ feelings is not something they see as a problem.

That is a concern, because although 55% of all the respondents in our survey say they don’t mind when someone vapes near them in public, 60% say vaping in public is inconsiderate because they do not like the smell. You may enjoy your chosen flavour, but not everyone will feel the same way.

We can take comfort from the fact that a majority of all the people we surveyed (55%) say they think most people who vape are considerate of others. But it would clearly be a good idea for people who vape to consult the tips that Debretts have provided, just to make sure that they are doing the right thing. By doing so we can prove that vapers really are considerate people who understand the importance of good manners.


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