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What are enclosed public spaces?

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One of the most significant discussions for vapers is the one around where they can and can't vape. It's a conversation littered with difficulty, as there are few strict rules on where vaping is allowed. Instead, venues tend to put their own individual rules in place, with some allowing it and some forbidding it. This means that if, for example, you want to vape in a pub, you may be able to in some locations, while others may ask you to stop.

A term frequently used when discussing vaping regulations is 'Enclosed Public Space'. As a broad rule, vaping is forbidden in ‘Enclosed Public Spaces’ and some councils and countries have made attempts to write this into law. However, it's quite a broad term that can be difficult for vapers to understand. After all, any space outside your house is a public space. Likewise, to what degree does the space need to be 'enclosed' for it to be an 'enclosed public space'?


'Enclosed Public Space' is a term that first rose to prominence in 2007 when the smoking ban came into action in Britain. At the time, the following definition of an enclosed place was offered: "Premises are considered to be enclosed if they have a ceiling or roof and, except for doors, windows or passageways, are wholly enclosed, whether on a permanent or temporary basis."

This ruling meant that restaurants, [pubs, cinemas], and theatres (amongst others) were all barred from allowing smoking. It essentially means that smoking is banned in any place that is not in the open air and is not a private residence where the owner of the private location is comfortable with smoking. More and more, that ruling has come to cover vaping as well, with the Welsh government in 2016 aiming (unsuccessfully) to ban vaping in enclosed spaces where children are likely to be present. Generally, it’s safe to assume that if you’re in a building or a place where there are lots of people, you shouldn’t vape.


Where the ruling is less clear is where it pertains to sports stadiums and other partially enclosed spaces. Football grounds in the English Premier League explicitly ban the use of vape pens within the stadium. This is understandable in areas that are enclosed, such as those that are within the stadium, but may cause confusion when fans are in the stands. After all, a stand in a football ground doesn't truly classify as an enclosed public area as it's partially exposed to the open air. However, this ruling is true of many sporting stadiums, including courts at Wimbledon.

While these areas may not be entirely enclosed, they do house a vast number of people in very close quarters. For many such locations, the happiness of all their customers and visitors is of paramount importance, so while these areas may not technically classify as being 'enclosed', it's still likely that they will be densely populated and therefore ban vaping to ensure there’s no sense of discomfort (or confusion with traditional cigarettes) amongst those who do not vape.

Read more: Can I vape in the pub, or in beer gardens?


Though the 'enclosed public spaces' rule is not formal law, it has informally been introduced by many businesses and venues across the country. If you were to use a vape pen in a pub or restaurant, you are likely to be asked to stop. If that happens, you should do as requested and stop vaping immediately, and if there is signage around the location that states you should not vape while there, you should not even begin. Always obey the rules that the venue you are in lays down, and if there is any confusion, seek clarification before using your device.



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