Helpful Tip: Take a look at the ANRF’s helpful PDF on State and Municipalities’ laws regarding the use of vaping and E-Cigs: http://no-smoke.org/pdf/ecigslaws.pdf.
This PDF is updated and is current as of October 1, 2016.
Vaping: Regardless if you are new to it or have been blowing O’s for years, it can be difficult to know exactly where you can vape outside of your own home.
The small, battery-powered devices create an inhaled mist or smoke of what can be: liquid nicotine, flavoring, waxes, natural herbs, and sometimes medical or recreational marijuana. Vaporizers have leapt in popularity in the last five years, even (or perhaps even because) tobacco smoking rates have decreased.
Vaping offers more users a customized experience than traditional cigarette smoking. The vaper can choose their level of nicotine derivatives, from the strength of regular cigarettes down to non-nicotine levels. That means the e-Juice, wax, or dry leaf that is being vaped has zero nicotine levels at all. There are also endless flavors, textures, and amount of smoke that users enjoy thanks to customizable rigs.
Apartments & Rental Homes
Logically, like cigarette smoking and aromatherapeutic smoking, you can smoke your vape pen, mod, E-Cig, APV, and other rig on your own property and most of the time, on your rental property as well. In apartment units and rental homes, it really is up to the landlord — just like traditional smoking is is indicated on your lease.
State laws say that it is okay to vape nicotine in one’s apartment, but local laws about shared walls (as well as landlord rules) may apply. Just check with the manager of the apartment complex, your landlord, or potential landlord first. They will respect you for respecting their property by asking.
Even if you vape 0mg, non-nicotine e-juices, waxes, or loose leaf, it may be difficult for landlords to believe you and they may ask you to avoid doing it in their rental residence or apartment; even though such vaping does not release nicotine into the air at all. There is still the idea that most everyone who vapes is smoking nicotine or herbs that either leave the scent of traditional cigarettes or illegal substances.
However, that being said, most vapers still are not aware of exactly where they can legally vape outside of the home without looking over their shoulder.
Where to Vape Legally in Public
There is a new legal trend as of late, banning or restricting vaping in public. It began with small organizations, such as at universities, colleges, transit agencies, etc…and has since increased up to major cities such as Los Angeles and San Francisco. This year, a ban on vaping wherever tobacco smoking is prohibited may become California law under San Francisco’s pending SB 140 (Senate Bill 140).
Can You Vape on the Sidewalk?
As sidewalks are generally considered a public space that is wide open and near the roadway, smoking traditional cigarettes has never been a problem on sidewalks, and neither has vaping in most locations.
However, while this is generally so, places such as El Cerrito, California is actually considering a bill to ban vaping on sidewalks. In instances where a sidewalk is near a population of people like by a library or school, it is understandable that you should wait until you are away from crowds. Personally, roadway sidewalks should not be banned — sidewalks on properties such as public libraries, storefronts, etc…that makes more sense for some cities to at least consider limiting vaping on some premises. However, all sidewalks would be simply ridiculous.
So, as of now, yes, you can vape on the sidewalk or side of the roadway in your neighborhood (some neighborhoods do not have sidewalks along the roadway). Unfortunately, do not be surprised if you gather some attention from authorities or people thinking you may be smoking something other than nicotine.
Can You Vape While Driving Your Car?
Yes, you can absolutely vape while driving your car. Just like smoking cigarettes, what you do in your car is not considered smoking in public. It is legal, but vapers have been pulled over for suspicion of drugged driving.
While annoying, this is somewhat understandable as police cannot see huge O’s being blown without at least considering the possibility that an illegal substance is producing the plume of vaping clouds. This is still a negative aspect of social norms regarding vaping that rears its ugly head as you try to peacefully vape in your car.
It is advised that you keep your vaping smoke to a minimum and avoid allowing your car to fill up with thick smoke from ohming. Keep the heavy sub ohming competitions at home or the 5-0 may come a-calling.
Can You Vape in a Business that YOU Own?
This is an interesting prospect that many people have brought up. While you would not walk into a store or your place of business and light up a cig in front of employees or your boss, what about vaping in your own place of business?
At the state level, it is actually legal to vape in a business that you own. However, like in nearly every situation it seems, local laws may apply. Check your local laws online regarding vaping using a quick google search before acting.
However, if you live in Los Angeles or San Francisco, as well as other larger cities, it is likely that it is not legal to do vape in your own place of business.
Can You Vape in Your Workplace or Business that You Visit?
This is a bit trickier. At the state level, vaping at work in designated smoking areas is legal. Local laws are very strict on this matter, and they vary everywhere. When it comes to your place of employment, you are told where (or if) you may smoke in certain designated areas. It is a good idea to read your employer’s rules on this or ask the hiring manager or HR.
When it comes to your patronage at businesses you shop at, it is more likely than not that you cannot vape there. Not just inside, but outside as well. Not only have most businesses adopted no smoking with a certain amount of feet of their establishments, but even with non-nicotine vaping, they don’t want to see smoke anywhere near their business, as they believe it will turn off potential customers.
Our advice is, follow the rule of vaping being a discrete act. Don’t vape at a restaurant, a store, a shop, or other establishment. Like wearing a heavy perfume, it is just common sense. However, some business owners may surprise you — just ask them and respect their decision.
Can You Vape in Public Parks?
According to state law, it is legal to vape in public parks. Depending on the park and location, local laws may ban it. The ban is subject to enforcement, however, and since vaping is very discreet, so if you are in a park away from people or even in a state park, you should be fine.
However, do not bother people. Don’t vape by the playground, basketball hoops, or under a shelter where people are gathered. It’s just not good manners.
Can You Vape at a Public School or University?
You can bet that vaping at or even near a public school will be banned. When it comes to universities/colleges, many have declared their campuses to be smoke-free. However, if there are designated smoking areas, you can smoke there. If the university/college has banned smoking anywhere on campus, you cannot vape there either without encountering a fine, or if you are a student, possible trouble with the Provost and university for breaking their rules.
Can You Vape in Public Buildings (Rec Center, City Hall, etc…)
At the state level it is legal, but as we know by now, local laws triumph and may ban it. By a rule of thumb, it is never recommended to vape or smoke traditional cigarettes in public buildings ever. If you don’t believe you could smoke a cigarette there, don’t vape there.
Even if you are vaping a non-nicotine juice or wax, other people don’t know it.
Can You Vape in the Airport and on Planes?
Now this one is surprising. Legal at the state level, local laws may ban it of course. The airport itself is the real decision maker, but it may surprise you to know that the FAA does not recommend vaping on airplanes, but does not ban it.
Instead, they leave it up to the individual airlines. When you book a ticket online, a notice is typically given regarding that airline’s policy on vaping and smoking in the airport and on their planes. You can easily Google this information and get it from the airline’s website.
If in doubt, just call them up and ask!
Can You Vape on the Train/Bus or in a Taxi?
In San Francisco and many other cities, you cannot vape on public transportation. BART banned vaping in February and the SFMTA did it in March. Vaping in a taxi in San Francisco can actually result in an $85 fine!
Ask the driver before vaping — you do not want to receive a fine. Visiting the website of your local transportation such as the public bus system or train will have a section regarding smoking and vaping. Since many taxi cabs are private, it is up to them — some may be fine with it, as many cab drivers also smoke, but some may not want the attention by well-meaning police or may not want it in their private cab.
What About All of the Vape Questions Above Pertaining to Medical Cannabis Vaping?
We know that some of you may be questioning the locations above as they pertain to vaping medicinal cannabis.
It is complicated, but while some states have legalized medical marijuana and smoking/vaping it, all medical cannabis vaping is technically still illegal. It is also quasi-legal at the state level too, in many cases, such as California. However, the rules are subject to local restrictions or immunity.
When it comes to vaping medical cannabis, it is best to call a lawyer or really do your research on not just the laws in your state, but in your city and local community. Call city hall if you must. You can even ask a lawyer in your area (the closer the better), who can give you the information you need.
Getting caught vaping medical cannabis is a whole different affair than vaping nicotine in the wrong place. So, always Google your local laws or better yet — ask an expert to make sure before vaping.
Take a look at the ANRF’s helpful PDF on State and Municipalities’ laws regarding the use of vaping and E-Cigs: http://no-smoke.org/pdf/ecigslaws.pdf. This PDF is updated and is current as of October 1, 2016.