Tobacco, shisha and vapes

Recent legal changes

Smoking is one of the biggest threats to our health. Several initiatives, involving changes in the law, have been taken recently to discourage people from smoking, especially to discourage the young from taking up the habit. Some of these changes also affect shisha and e-liquids.


Even when it does not contain tobacco, shisha must carry this health warning: "Smoking this product damages your health”. 

See other requirements for labelling herbal smoking products.

Shisha containing tobacco is still a tobacco product, and must comply with legal requirements. These include health warnings, registration of products, controls on displays etc. 

Business Companion - tobacco is a good source of advice, but if you need further advice please contact us at or call 020 8753 1081.

Packaging for cigarettes and hand-rolling tobacco

  • Cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco can only be sold in plain packs, with bigger health warnings. The colour is an unappealing grey green.
  • The smallest size for a pack of cigarettes is 20: no more packs of 10. 
  • The smallest pack for hand rolling tobacco is 30 grams.
  • Cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco with flavourings are banned, apart from menthol which can be sold up to 2020.
  • This came into effect on the 20 May 2017, but retailers have had a year to sell through old stock, so we will now seize items that do not comply.

Vapes, e-cigarettes and e-shisha

Vaping or e-shisha devices, and all refills of liquids which contain nicotine, must satisfy new safety and labelling rules.

  • If you produce or import e-devices or liquids, you must register those items with a government agency before you place them on the market. They must also be supplied with safety instructions and warnings, and with contact details.
  • Liquids containing nicotine in a separate container must have no more than 10ml of liquid. Liquids in a disposable, single-use, e-cigarette cartridge must not contain more than 2ml.
  • These liquids carry several safety risks, so they must be in child-resistant, tamper-evident containers protected against breakage or leaking. Liquids in the actual dispenser, even if it is single use, must also be in a container that meets these requirements.
  • Unless the product is a registered medical device, the liquid cannot have concentrations of nicotine over 20mg/ml.
  • Some additives, including colouring, caffeine and taurine are banned.
  • The packs and containers must be labelled: ‘This product contains nicotine which is a highly addictive substance’. The format and size is prescribed.

Nicotine inhaling devices and liquids containing nicotine can't be sold to under-18s.

For more information, contact GOV.UK – advice on e-cigarettes regulations for consumer products.

For advice about other legal requirements go to Business Companion.  If you can’t find what you want there, please call us on 020 8753 1081 or email Trading

Quit smoking

If you want to quit smoking, contact the free NHS Smokeline on 0800 84 84 84 for support, or the Smokefree website – for details of free local stop smoking services