Smoking and the Law

What’s the legal age to buy cigarettes? Where is it legal to smoke? Choices for Life shares what the law says about smoking.

Public Places

It is illegal to smoke in enclosed or partially enclosed public places in Scotland, England and Wales.


It’s illegal to smoke in a car if it has a passenger who is under the age of 18 and you can get a £100 fine for doing so.

What age do you have to be?

You need to be 18 to buy tobacco in Scotland (it’s the same in other parts of the U.K. too).

It is illegal for shops and supermarkets to sell any tobacco products in Scotland to anyone under the age of 18.

It is illegal for anyone under 18 to buy or attempt to buy any tobacco products. This is to try and reduce the number of people exposed to smoking related diseases and to bring the law in line with alcohol. It’s also illegal for anyone over 18 to buy tobacco products for people underage. Find out more about what the law says about buying restricted age goods for people under the age of 18.

If a police officer suspects that you are under 18 and in possession of cigarettes, tobacco or cigarette papers in a public place then they can confiscate them. If you don’t co-operate with the police and hand over the items or provide your name and address if required, you are committing an offence and you could face a fine.

What about e-cigarettes?

The law in Scotland makes it illegal for anyone under 18 to buy e-cigarettes or vapes, also known as tobacco and nicotine vapour products (NVPs). It also means anyone buying NVPs for those underage will also be breaking the law.

As for whether you can ‘vape’ indoors, each business is different – some see them as the same as cigarettes and won’t permit indoor-use. ScotRail for example won’t allow you to vape on trains, at stations or at train depots. However, others may permit you to vape indoors and in public places. It is up to each individual company what their policy is on them and it’s always best to check if it applies to you.

More Information

For help with quitting smoking call the Smokeline on 0800 84 84 84 (9am- 9pm daily).

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