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Vaping Laws: How Old Do You Need to Be to Vape

“How old do I have to be to vape?”, “Is vaping allowed for minors?” “What is legal vaping age in my country?” - many people who would like to quit smoking by means of vaping are asking these questions. Along with the popularity of vaping as a healthier alternative for adult smokers, the industry has got a troublesome group of customers: curious teenagers. Nevertheless, vaping was and will always be an industry open for adults only. However, the legal age to buy e-cigarettes, e-juices and other vape related products varies around the world. So, what is the proper line between child and adult when it comes to vaping: 18, 19 or 21? Let’s have a close look at the vaping age regulations around the globe and give you a short review of all the details regarding the legal age limit for vaping.

When Does The Childhood End?

In every country, there is an established age at which a young person is first allowed to vote, enter contracts, apply for credit, serve in the military, and buy alcohol, tobacco, and other products considered inappropriate for children. Vape products are not an exception here. Mostly, the legal age for vaping is just the same as the legal smoking age. In most countries and states that age is 18, but it varies, as we will see. 

Where Is Vaping Restricted?

In many countries vaping is ether regulated just like tobacco cigarettes, or not regulated at all. Although it was proved by Public Health England (PHE) that e-cigarettes are 95% less harmful to health than tobacco and have the potential to help smokers quit smoking, it remains the case that many countries have strict rules regarding vaping. Not to mention that there are some countries that absolutely ban e-cigarettes, which means the legal age for vaping is out of the question there. Thus, neither purchase and distribution of vape stuff, nor use of e-cigs is allowed in Cambodia, Singapore, Turkmenistan, Vatican City, Jordan, Vietnam, Panama, Syrian Arab Republic, United Arab Emirates.

Vape Geography| How Old Do You Have To Be To Vape In … ?

This is our list of how old you should be in order to vape in a specific country or state.

Australia 

There are specific rules when it comes to vaping in Australia. However, vaping is allowed to all adults who have reached the age of 18.

New Zealand

You should be at least +18 to use or buy vape stuff. In 2017 the e-cigarettes and any vape related products were classified as “a harm reduction and smoking cessation tool” by the Health Ministry in New Zealand.

The United Kingdom 

© Copyright 2019 NHS Digital      

The UK has standard vaping rules which ban selling e-cigarettes to minors. The Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) implemented the +18 age rule back in 2015. Retailers who sell vapes to minors are fined £2,500 for the offense.

According to 2019 data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS), the vape age statistics in Great Britain vary depending on gender. Thus in 2018, 7.8% of vapers were the men aged 16 to 24, and 1.1% of women of the same age period. Male vape users aged between 25 and 34 made up 9.3%, while female – 4.7%; 11.3% of men and 5.7% of women aged between 35-49 are e-cigarette users.

The United States of America

In the USA the vaping age limit have varied in many states from 18+ to 21+ till December, 2019. For instance in Utah, Alabama and Alaska vaping along with tobacco products was allowed to persons who have reached the age of 19. In Oregon, California, New Jersey, Maine and Hawaii you would have to be at least 21 to be allowed to purchase any vape product and use it. But how are things with the legal vaping age going today, in 2020 in the USA?

Tobacco 21 Law 

Tobacco 21 or T-21 law is a USA campaign aimed at raising the legal smoking age. In spite of the fact that vaping is nowhere near smoking, the new law still includes electronic cigarettes among the “tobacco products”. Previously during White House vaping round table President Trump said he would probably support a T-21 bill and make e-cigarettes and e-juices along with all tobacco products available for adults aged 21+.

Proponents of T-21 law claim that the following age regulations will make high school students have less access to adult products, if their peers are unable to buy for them. 

Many teenagers have friends as old as 18, who are legally able to purchase tobacco cigarettes and share with them. Friends and relatives are considered the most common source of any tobacco products used by high school students.

The University of Michigan's Monitoring the Future survey, funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, offers recent look at the issue of vaping among high grade students. According to them, in 2019, 25.5% of 12th grade students were vaping nicotine e-juices.

In December 2019, President Donald Trump signed the new minimum age into law as part of a sweeping spending bill. The law is now in effect, which means that any online or offline store in the US is not legally able to sell any tobacco product, including combustible cigarettes, e-cigarettes or cigars, to anyone under the age of 21. In a couple of days after, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) noted on its website that "it is now illegal for a retailer to sell any tobacco product -- including cigarettes, cigars and e-cigarettes -- to anyone under 21. FDA will provide additional details on this issue as they become available."

© Copyright 2019 Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation 

The Tobacco 21 law has been a very popular subject discussed in the USA since the end of 2019, and passed in state legislatures. Thus, since the last few months of the previous year, 19 states along with Washington, DC, and more than 500 cities and towns have raised the minimum age to purchase tobacco and have limited any tobacco and/or nicotine delivery system products sales to those individuals, who haven’t reached the age of 21. These states are as follows: Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia and Washington. The new Tobacco 21 law will cover absolutely all states on the US.

Why exactly the age of 21?

Firstly, the data says that around 95% of adult smokers tried cigarettes before turning 21, and 80% had their first puff before their 18. As we mentioned above, a 16 or 17 years old high school student most likely has friends or even classmates, who have reached the legal age. Smokers aged 18 often supply tobacco products to their younger friends. Tobacco 21 law supporters believe teenagers have much less acquaintances aged 21 who could purchase nicotine delivery products to teenagers.

Secondly, the following age limit has a successful precedent in another industry. Thus, the US wide legal age of 21 for the purchase of alcohol products resulted in reduced consumption among young people, so as decreased alcohol addiction and drunk driving cases. It is expected that raising the sales age for tobacco and nicotine delivery systems will have similar success.

Another question under discussion in the USA is still the flavour ban. In September, 2019, Donald Trump said that the FDA would put out some strong recommendations regarding the sale of flavoured e-liquids and would most likely ban any non-tobacco-flavoured vape products on the market.

Meanwhile, the new law raises some issues. It's not clear yet what the penalties are for selling the products mentioned above to people between 18 and 21 – time will tell. Right now, the laws and penalties for selling tobacco and vaping stuff to minors vary state to state.

It's still unclear how tobacco users aged between 18 and 21, who want to quit smoking, will have to deal with their cigarette addiction due to this law. Some are worried they won't be able to buy neither vape products to help them give up smoking, nor chewing nicotine gums and/or patches, the purchase rule of which have always mirrored the minimum smoking age limit.

Canada

The federal government of Canada has imposed various age restrictions according to the region. Thus, if you’re in Ontario, you have to be 19, but if you’re in Manitoba, you’ll have to be at least 18. In Calgary city, in the Alberta area, vaping and smoking has been banned altogether since 2015.

The most recent survey was done in 2017. It showed: 15% of Canadians have tried e-cigarettes. Youth (15 to 19 years) and young adults (20 to 24 years) have the highest rates of trying vaping. This compares to adults 25 years and older.

China

China is a mother country for vaping industry and even today approximately 90% of industry products come from there. Despite the vape regulations are not that strict like in other countries, there is still an age limit for using e-cigarettes +18.

European Union

The EU countries have different vape regulations, but the prevalent vaping age is 18+. Most of the EU countries does not allow vaping in most public places and have big penalties for selling vape products to minors.

Teen Smokers or Teen Vapers?

What would you choose for your teen child – smoking or vaping? Definitely, neither of the two. However, the harsh reality says that each year we are faced with committed teenage smokers. Burned cigarettes are extraordinarily dangerous, killing half of all people who smoke long-term. Despite of the fact that e-cigs are 95% safer than analogs, and are proved to help people quit smoking, they are dangerous to young people too. The best option is to encourage teenagers to quit smoking if they smoke, and vaping if they vape. 

E-cigarettes are becoming more popular across the UK, with there now thought to be over 3 million vapers. And there are so many people out there who try to sully the reputation of vaping claiming that vaping is targeted to minors. In fact, vaping authorities as well as manufacturers and distributors urge consumers not to use electronic cigarettes, if they have not reached the legal vaping age in their country. The vape companies comply with strict laws on selling vape products to underage and have effective age verification measures. 

 In this article we provided you with the basic information regarding the legal age for vaping in many countries. If you are underage, please do not smoke or vape and leave the website immediately. If you are an adult smoker, please consider vaping as an effective way to quit tobacco cigarettes. Take care.


References:

  1. Press release “E-cigarettes around 95% less harmful than tobacco estimates landmark review”, Public Health England (PHE), August 19, 2015.
  2.  A report “Vaping in England: an evidence update February 2019”, Public Health England (PHE), February 2019.
  3. E-cigarette use in Great Britain”, Office for National Statistics (ONS), July 01, 2019.  
  4. Monitoring the Future” survey, University of Michigan, 2019.
  5. Selling Tobacco Products in Retail Stores”, US Food & Drug Administration (FDA), December 20, 2019.
  6. Vaping in Canada: what we know”, Government of Canada, January 7, 2020.

Infographics: 

  1. Statistics on Smoking”, NHS Digital, July 2, 2019.
  2.  “State by State Information”, Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation, December 2019.



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About the author
Dennis Forman

Journalist

Dennis is an experienced vaper with a mission to help smokers quit tobacco smoking due to his informative and helpful articles. Every word he puts down about fighting against cigarette addiction comes from his big life experience and is learned from the school of hard knocks. He is not a professional writer; he is a person who is willing to share his comprehensive knowledge of vaping.
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