What is the legal age to vape in the US
Vaping has been fast developing and innovating over the past decade, and now it is gradually becoming one of the indispensable parts of smoking alternatives in our daily lives. However, fast development comes with various problems - vape abuse among teenagers, the FDA monitors the national usage rates for all tobacco products, including an annual youth survey, and has seen a tremendous increase in adolescent use of e-cigarette products in recent years. In order to keep minors away from vape products, regulators and legislators have adopted various strategies, and the most influential regulation is that you have to be of legal age to vape.
However, it is not easy to decide how old you have to be to vape, the penalties for retailers who disobey the law, and how to enforce the legal age vaping law. Although enforcing a legal minimum age to vape is not the perfect solution to reduce minors vaping, it is a direct and useful way to keep minors away from vape products. What’s more, such minimum age restrictions to vape products may carelessly lead to more social problems such as the black market and an increase in combustible cigarette use among teenagers.
It is worth noting that vaping is either regulated as a tobacco product, as a single part of a standalone product range or isn’t regulated at all in some countries. And most countries also have minimum legal age vaping laws, for example, you have to be 18 or above to vape in the UK. For the largest vaping market around the globe - the US, the legal age to vape is 21 or above.
How old do you have to be to buy and use vape products in the US?
Congress passed a federal Tobacco 21 law in December 2019 and it came into effect immediately on 20, December 2019 signed into law by President Trump. Federal vape laws regulated that the legal age to buy vape products in all states is 21. And federal minimum age was 18 before the law. But why the legal age for vaping has been changed to 21 instead of 19 or 20? It is a good question, a research shows that 95% of adult nicotine consumers started using nicotine products before age 21. Consequently, lawmakers deduce that increasing the legal age to buy and use vape products in the US to 21 can reduce nicotine dependence for the younger generation. And the law covers traditional cigarettes and other tobacco products which means you have to be 21 or above to vape/smoke in the US. You should be aware that the new law does not impose penalties for purchase, use or possession by those under 21, but only for retailers who sell to underage consumers.
Can I vape without nicotine under the legal age in the US?
No, you can’t. The legal age to buy and use vape products without nicotine is the same as the legal age of 21 in the US. Since nicotine-free vapes are also considered tobacco products, you have to be of legal age to buy or use nicotine or nicotine-free vape products. In addition, as long as you are wanting a vape-related product, you will have to be of legal age whether there is nicotine or not. Therefore, it is also illegal for a retailer to sell nicotine-free vape products to a consumer who is under the legal age.
Is vape also considered as tobacco product?
As mentioned above, the law covers traditional cigarettes and other tobacco products which means you have to be 21 or above to vape/smoke in the US. Therefore, anything associated with vaping is regarded as a tobacco product by the FDA, for example, vape devices, vape batteries, battery chargers, and pod vape systems are considered tobacco products.
The legal age to vape in other countries around the globe
According to the FDA, there are no safe tobacco products, including ENDS(electronic nicotine delivery system). Therefore, it is important to set the minimal legal age to vape for protecting the next generation. Different countries have different laws and regulations on vaping age and vape products. For the countries which set the legal age to vape of 18(from GSTHR):
- Costa Rica
- El Salvador
- Ivory Coast
- New Zealand
- Papua New Guinea
- San Marino
- Saudi Arabia
- South Africa
- South Korea
- United States
It is also important to know the local vaping laws if you are about to travel to other countries or you may encounter some big troubles. For instance, if you export the vape products to Australia, you may risk two years in prison; in Singapore, you may be fined 2,000 SGD(Singapore dollars) if you possess a vape device; and in Thailand, vape users can face up to 10 years in prison.
So please be aware of the following countries which prohibit vape products:
- Antigua and Barbuda
- Australia (unless you have a prescription)
- India – Banned in 2019
- North Korea
- Sri Lanka
- East Timor
- Vatican City