Despite e-cigarettes being exempt from Smokefree Legislation, the managed pub chain claimed that barstaff had found it difficult to distinguish e-cigarette users from real smokers.
A spokesman for the company said that allowing e-cigarette use would result in bar workers having to “police the pub”, distracting them from their other tasks.
He said: “While we appreciate that electronic cigarettes are legal, the bottom line is that they generally emit a vapour that looks like smoke.
“Therefore, if a customer looks like they are smoking, barstaff have no other choice but to investigate.”
Rather than being told to leave, the spokesman said e-cigarette users are being politely asked to use the designated outdoor smoking areas.
“What we have found is that while some e-cigarette users have been disappointed, there have been no real issues. The ban applies to all of our pubs, so everybody knows where they stand.”
JDW’s stance has been criticised by e-cigarette producers. Adrian Everett, group CEO at manufacturer E-Lites, claimed that his product gave a very distinctive green LED light, which ensures that “there can be no confusion with a cigarette”.
Everett said: “We’re disappointed for the customers of Wetherspoons by the pub owner’s current policy.
"The help e-cigarettes can provide to smokers in reducing their dependency on tobacco is now widely recognised and we’d hope to see more landlords allowing their customers to use a product that is of benefit to their own health and the wider public health of the nation.
“We’d have assumed Wetherspoons would also welcome a product that will keep customers in their premises while reducing the security, noise and litter issues which arise from smokers going outside.
“We know our customers enjoy using E-Lites in pubs, clubs and restaurants safe in the knowledge they are having no adverse effect on the people around them, so to treat them like smokers does seem a like missed opportunity.”