The regulation of electronic cigarettes varies globally, as of 2011, from some countries having no regulation to others banning the devices.
The European Economic Area
- In Austria nicotine-containing cartridges are classified as medicinal products and e-cigarettes for nicotine inhalation as medical devices.
- In the Czech Republic, the use, sale and advertising of electronic cigarettes is legal.
- In Denmark, the Danish Medicines Agency classifies electronic cigarettes containing nicotine as medicinal products. Thus, authorization is required before the product may be marketed and sold, and no such authorization has currently been given. The agency has clarified, however, that electronic cigarettes that do not administer nicotine to the user, and are not otherwise used for the prevention or treatment of disease, are not considered medicinal devices.
- In Estonia, the Estonian State Agency of Medicines had previously banned e-cigarettes, but the ban was overturned in court on 7 March 2013.
- In Finland, the National Supervisory Authority of Welfare and Health (Valvira) declared that the new tobacco marketing ban (effective 1 January 2012) will also cover electronic cigarettes, resulting in that Finnish stores or webstores can't advertise e-cigarettes because they might look like regular cigarettes. In theory, e-cigarettes with nicotine-free cartridges may still be sold, as long as their images and prices are not visible. Ordering from abroad remains allowed. Sale of nicotine cartridges is currently prohibited, as nicotine is considered a prescription drug requiring an authorization that such cartridges do not yet have. However, the Finnish authorities have decided that nicotine cartridges containing less than 10 mg nicotine, and e-liquid containing less than 0,42 g nicotine per bottle, may be legally brought in from other countries for private use. If the nicotine content is higher, a prescription from a Finnish physician is required. From a country within the European Economic Area a maximum of one year's supply may be brought in for private use when returning to Finland, while three months' supply may be brought in from outside the EEA. Mail order deliveries from EEA countries, for a maximum of three months' supply, are also allowed.
- In Germany, the sale and use of electronic cigarettes is legal.
- In Ireland, the sale and use of electronic cigarettes is legal.
- In Italy, by a Health Ministry decree (G.U. Serie Generale, n. 248 del 23 ottobre 2012) electronic cigarettes containing nicotine cannot be sold to individuals under 16 years old.
- In Latvia, the Ministry of Health has warned that the e-cigarette can cause harm to cardiovascular, hepatic and renal systems, however, e-cigarettes are legal, and are sold in most shopping centers and at Riga's airport, as well as via the internet to individuals at least 18 years old.
- In the Netherlands, use and sale of electronic cigarettes is allowed, but advertising is forbidden pending European Union legislation.
- In Norway electronic cigarettes and nicotine can only be imported from other EEA member states (e.g. the UK) for private use.
- In Poland, the sale and use of electronic cigarettes are legal.
- In Portugal, the sale and use of electronic cigarettes are legal.
- In the United Kingdom, the use, sale and advertising of electronic cigarettes is legal. Electronic cigarettes are also allowed to be used inside pubs, coffee shops, etc. where the smoking of tobacco is illegal.
- California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed a bill that would regulate the sale of electronic cigarettes within the state on grounds that "if adults want to purchase and consume these products with an understanding of the associated health risks, they should be able to do so."
- New Jersey voted in 2009 to treat the electronic cigarette in the same category as tobacco products by including them under the New Jersey Smoke-Free Air Act, which prohibits smoking in indoor work and public places. Assemblywoman Connie Wagner sponsored the legislation, arguing that they "looked like the real thing".
- In New Hampshire, the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors is illegal as of July 2010.
- Arizona is planning to ban the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors.
- In Washington, the King County board of health has banned smoking of electronic cigarettes in public places, and prohibited sales to minors. Neighboring Pierce County also prohibits sales to minors, but allows e-cigarette use in places such as bars and workplaces.
- In Maryland, sales to minors are banned.
- Iowa requires retailers in Linn County to have a retail tobacco license.
- New York State banned the smoking of e-cigarettes within 100 feet of a public or private school entrance in September 2012, and banned e-cigarette sales to minors starting on 1 January 2013.
- In Australia, the Federal Department of Health and Ageing classifies every form of nicotine, except for replacement therapies and cigarettes, as a form of poison. In the state of Victoria, the Therapeutic Goods Administration has said that there were no laws preventing the importation of e-cigarettes bought over the internet for personal use, unless prohibited by state and territory legislation.
- In Brazil, the sale, importation and advertising of any kind of electronic cigarette is forbidden. The Brazilian health and sanitation federal agency, Anvisa, found the current health safety assessments about e-cigarettes to not be yet satisfactory for commercial approval eligibility.
- In Canada, as of March 2009, while the importation, sale, and advertising of electronic cigarettes containing nicotine is not endorsed, the products may be sold and used.
- In China, the sale and use of electronic cigarettes is legal.
- In Egypt, the Egyptian Ministry of Health technical committee has rejected applications for marketing authorization of electronic cigarettes on the grounds that they contain harmful chemicals, and lack safety and toxicity data.
- In Hong Kong the sale and possession of nicotine-based electronic cigarettes, classified as a Type I Poison, is governed under the Pharmacy and Poisons Ordinance. Sale or possession is not authorized and both are considered punishable with a fine of up to HK$100,000 and/or a prison term of 2 years. However, the law does not cover any non-nicotine inhalers.
- In India, the use of electronic cigarettes is currently legal. Under the Indian Health Law of 2006, tobacco smoking has been banned in public. Since e-cigarettes avoid the use of tobacco, they do not fall under this law.
- In Lebanon, the council of ministers has banned the sale and use of electronic cigarettes, starting 21 September 2011.
- In Malaysia, the sale of e-cigarettes is an offence under the Poisons Act 1952 and the Control of Drugs and Cosmetics Regulations 1984. Those found guilty of selling and distributing the product (as well as liquid nicotine for use in electronic cigarettes) will be fined no more than RM3,000, be jailed for no more than two years, or both. The Malaysian Health Minister stated that e-cigarettes containing liquid nicotine is more harmful than normal cigarettes and warned Malaysians to avoid them.
- In Mexico, the Federal Commission for the Protection Against Sanitary Risks, announced that according to Mexican Law, the selling and promotion of non-tobacco objects that include elements generally associated with tobacco products are forbidden.
- In Nepal, under current cigarette laws, the use and sale of e-cigarettes is permitted.
- In New Zealand, the Ministry of Health has ruled that the Ruyan e-cigarette falls under the requirements of the Medicines Act, and cannot be sold except as a registered medicine. Since the ruling, Ruyan has obtained registration, and sale is currently allowed in pharmacies.
- In Pakistan, the import and sale of electronic cigarettes is legal, but Pakistan Medical and Dental council find that the current health safety assessments of e-cigarettes to not yet be satisfactory.
- In Panama, the importation, distribution and sale of electronic cigarettes have been prohibited since June 2009. The Ministry of Health cites the FDA findings as their reasoning for the ban.
- In Singapore, the sale and importation of electronic cigarettes, even for personal consumption, is illegal. According to Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan, electronic cigarettes are the industry's attempt to attract new users and were marketed to appeal to younger customers, including women.
- In South Korea, the sale and use of electronic cigarettes is legal, but is heavily taxed. Electric cigarette possession among teenagers remains an issue.
- In Switzerland, the sale of nicotine-free electronic cigarettes is legal. The use and importation of electronic cigarettes containing nicotine is legal, but they cannot be sold within the country. As of December 2011, the tobacco tax does not apply to e-cigarettes and respective liquids containing nicotine.