Smoking an electronic cigarette in an enclosed area is not against the law

by Joseph Mizzi

The Court of Magistrates (Malta) as a court of criminal judicature, in an appeal sitting deciding on decisions of local tribunals, decided that smoking an electronic cigarette inside is not illegal and revoked the decision of the Commissioner of Justice.

Anna Manicolo was accused of smoking a tobacco product in an enclosed area and the local tribunal found her guilty and condemned her to pay €232.94. 

The accused appealed the judgment arguing that she was smoking an electronic cigarette in an establishment in Paceville when a Police Officer recorded her details and gave her a ticket. The accused stated that she had shown the officer who recorded her details that she was not in fact smoking tobacco but an electronic cigarette.  Nevertheless, the officer insisted that she was breaching the law and handed down a fine.  

In the appeal submissions, the accused pointed out that she had also shown the electronic cigarette to the tribunal however the Commissioner of Justice decided to uphold the argument of the prosecution. 

Manicolo, as represented by her lawyer, stated that Subsidiary Legislation 315.04 of the Laws of Malta makes it clear that a person is not permitted to smoke any tobacco product in any enclosed area. The appellant insisted that an electronic cigarette is not a tobacco product and therefore requested the court to revoke the decision of the tribunal and acquit her from all the charges. 

The court, after confirming that the accused was in fact smoking an electronic cigarette, stated that the law prohibits the smoking of tobacco products and not the smoking of electronic cigarettes in enclosed areas.

Magistrate Francesco Depasquale decided the appeal by acceding to the requests of the appellant and consequently revoked the judgment of the tribunal and acquitted the accused from all the accusations brought against her.

Joseph Mizzi, Partner, Mifsud & Mifsud Advocates