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What are the rules on smoking and vaping in France?

The Local France
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What are the rules on smoking and vaping in France?
A person holds an electronic cigarette in Paris. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP)

Old movies might lead you to believe that smoking is practically compulsory in France, but actually more and more French people are quitting or switching to vapes or e-cigarettes and there are restrictions on the use of both. Here's what the rules say on smoking and vaping in France.


Who is allowed to vape?

The sale of vaping products is prohibited to minors under the age of 18 years old, as it is with tobacco, and shops can request ID if there is any doubt surrounding the person's age.

However, French law puts the onus on the seller - it is not illegal for a minor to purchase an electronic cigarette, but it is illegal for a shopkeeper to sell one to someone under 18.


France considers vaping products to include things like electronic cigarettes, e-liquids (or e-juices), batteries, mods and boxes, and more.

Where are you allowed to vape?

On a general level, using vaping products is prohibited in primary and secondary schools, universities, and any establishments that would lodge, train or educate minors. This includes sports areas that are meant to host minors.

READ MORE: Why the tabac is essential to life in France – even if you don’t smoke

It is also prohibited on enclosed forms of public transportation, and in enclosed work spaces intended for collective use.

There are some places that allow vaping - restaurants, cafés, shopping centres and nightclubs can legally allow vaping, although the owners can also introduce private rules prohibiting vaping.

Vaping is also allowed in outdoor (open-air) public areas, including parks, public gardens, and even playgrounds.

Dedicated shisha bars allow vaping, but must not allow under 18s in and must not advertise vape products outside of the bar. 

Penalties for breaking the rules

In buildings and dedicated areas where smoking is not allowed, there must be signage reminding the public that smoking is not allowed. 

Smoking and using vape products in a place where they are banned can be punishable by a fine of up to €150, according to

What about advertising vaping products?

In 1991, France passed the Loi Evin, which prohibited all advertising of tobacco products, and in 2016 vaping and electronic cigarette products were included within some of those restrictions.

Vaping can only be advertised within stores that sell the products such as tabacs or e-cigarette stops. All vape packaging should also include health warnings, like cigarettes and other tobacco products.


The law does not cover cultural products like film and TV, however, so it is common to see people smoking in French movies and TV series. 

Any possible changes coming up?

France’s National Committee against smoking, the CNCT, recommended on February 13th that the country institute a ban on flavours, apart from tobacco, for all products containing nicotine. They say that flavours such as candy and bubblegum flavours target vaping at children. 

And smoking?

France has had an indoor smoking ban since 2007, and smoking is prohibited in any enclosed public space such as shops, offices, cafés, restaurants, schools and on public transport.

Smoking is allowed on the outdoor terraces of bars and cafés, however. Terraces may have a covering such as a roof, awning or umbrellas but are not supposed to have permanent walls. In the winter, however, you will see this interpreted pretty leniently, when many café terraces become almost outdoor rooms for smokers. But the general rule is that if you're indoors you cannot smoke, if you're on the terrace you can.

Smoking is also permitted in outdoor areas such as parks, outdoor sports grounds and on the street. In some outdoor spaces, however, local authorities can impose extra restrictions, some towns have banned smoking on the beach in the summer, while local authorities often impose smoking bans in national parks and forests during the summer to reduce the risk of wildfires.

Smoking cannabis is completely illegal in France, which might come as a surprise to anyone who has visited a French city. France has both some of the strictest cannabis laws in Europe and among the highest consumption of cannabis. 

How many French people smoke and vape?

When it comes to electronic cigarette usage, daily vaping increased slightly among French adults when looking at 2021 compared to 2020 – from 5 percent up to 6.7 percent. 

However, in terms of the number who have tried vaping and electronic cigarettes, the numbers remained stable at about 38.7 percent.

According to French public health authorities, smoking levels generally in France (for traditional tobacco products) have dropped significantly in recent years, particularly for children and young people. However, the habit did increase slightly after the Covid-19 pandemic when compared to pre-pandemic (2019).

The proportion of smokers declined from 34.5 percent to 30.4 percent between 2016 and 2019, and daily smokers also saw a decline from 29.4 percent to 24 percent.

Santé publique France found that in 2021 about 31.9 percent French adults aged 18 to 75 years old reported smoking, in comparison to 30.4 percent in 2019. 

When looking at children (in troisième, or aged 14-15 years old), over half had already tried smoking in 2010, in comparison to 29 percent in 2021.


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