How old do you have to be to vape in the UK?
The legal age to buy vaping products like e-cigarettes or e-liquid from an online store or from a physical vape shop is eighteen years old.
The law surrounding the legal age limit for vaping
In 2015, vaping began gaining more traction in popularity in the UK, with more and more people beginning to switch from smoking cigarettes or tobacco to using electronic cigarettes. The government put in a law legislation that strictly prohibited the sale of any vaping related products, such as e-cigarettes or e-liquid, to anybody under the age of 18. This law also prohibits anyone over the age of 18 purchasing products for somebody under the legal vaping age.
The law explained and what happens if the law is broken
Whilst it is not illegal for someone under the age of 18 to attempt to buy vaping or nicotine products, it is illegal for retailers to sell anything vape related to a minor. Any person found breaking this law will be liable for prosecution and could face a personal fine of up to £2500. The company may also be fined as well and could lead to the store being closed down.
All vape retailers in the UK should be operating a Challenge 25 policy, where anyone who looks under the age of 25 and is attempting to purchase anything vape related is asked to provide proof of their age.
Most online retailers also operate a strict age verification process to not sell vaping products to
Vape69’s Age Verification process
Here at Vape69, we operate an age verification process to prevent selling vaping products to underage users.
We perform the check only once when you first checkout, via a company called 1account. They check information from various sources, such as the electoral roll register. You also have to option to securely upload photo identification.
When this check is completed and your age has been verified, you are then able to purchase anything from our website. This is to keep our customers safe, and to ensure that we are compliant with all government legislations.
The 0% nicotine question
This question is probably the greyest area in the vaping world and the legislations involved. As the age restriction legislation states, it is illegal to sell any vape related product that may contain nicotine to somebody under the age of 18 in the UK.
Now where it becomes a bit grey and cloudy is zero nicotine e liquid, as this is a product that doesn’t contain nicotine. But as stated above, the law states any product that MAY contain nicotine. This then rules out the sale of zero nicotine e-liquid to anyone under the age of 18 as this is classed as a vaping accessory, and it can be used to create a product that does contain nicotine as Nicotine shots can easily be added to it.
Therefore, nicotine free vape juices go in the same category as all other vaping products and cannot be sold to anyone under the age of 18.
Social media influence and peer pressure
Whilst the legal age requirement to purchase vaping products is 18, it isn’t illegal for someone under the age of 18 to use a vape.
A recent introduction to the vaping world is Disposable vape pens. These products have fast become all the rage amongst younger adults, and unfortunately underage user thus heightening the crisis of underage vaping.
A lot of factors contribute to the use of these by minors. The colourful designs of these disposables and the tempting, mouth-watering flavour concoctions like Jelly Bears or Cotton Candy Ice, are leading to more and more underage users are using them. These are people who have never even smoked cigarettes before and now becoming addicted to and dependant on standard nicotine.
Influencers on social media platforms such as TikTok and Instagram have been seen to be using disposable vape making them more appealing and desirable to young people and encourage teen vaping.
Targeted marketing and the problems it causes
In the past, some vaping companies have come under heavy scrutiny for the way they marketed their products and were accused of “targeted marketing” to appeal to younger audiences, and potentially tempt underage users in to vaping.
Certain vape juice manufacturers came under fire for the label designs and flavours of their e liquid. They made e liquid flavours reminiscent of popular confectionary flavours and even used the images on their bottles and within the name of the flavours of liquid. This caused a huge uproar and the company subsequently had to change the flavour name and design of the label.
Targeted marketing is carried out by some vape companies by using social media to create a buzz around their products and potentially make them look appealing to younger audiences using different methods.
At Vape69, we don’t do anything stated above. We don’t try and draw people in by advertising cheap e liquid in different ways. We believe in our great quality e liquid at only 69p a 10ml bottle is the best marketing tool that speaks for itself.
Vape laws around the world
Whilst the law in the UK has been explained, we will touch on laws around the world. Most countries, specifically European countries, are the same as the UK when it comes to vaping age Restrictions, but it is not the case in USA and Australia.
The minimum smoking and vaping age in USA is 21. This prohibits anyone under the age of 21 to purchase any vape products. This isn’t the only different law compared to the UK, as the USA are not subject to TPD, they are allowed to manufacture and sell e liquids, disposables or pre-filled vape pods up to 50mg in nicotine strength.
In Australia, the minimum age is the same as the UK which is 18. However, the difference is it is strictly prohibited for any retailer to sell e liquid that contains nicotine unless they are a registered pharmacy due to requiring a prescription from a doctor to purchase for medical reasons.
Fascinating how the age restrictions and laws are so different in different countries don’t you think?
Has the law changed on vaping?
Since the introduction of the law in 2015, the UK government updated nothing within the legislations.
There have been 7 reports written by Public Health England regarding the laws on sales of vaping products, and whilst nothing has changed, there has been more findings of underage users partaking in vaping and PHE have stated that maybe more needs to be done enforce the age of sale regulations to curb this sudden increase. Further information on this is available on the Public Health England website.
Local laws surrounding the use of vaping devices inside publics places and establishments vary from place to place based on rules customised by the proprietor. There are no legal restrictions on vaping in public areas, but people should be respectful of the rules put in place by rightful people.
TPD & TRPR Laws explained
TPD stands for the Tobacco Products Directive and is the legislation introduced by the UK government to originally control the tobacco industry. Over time, this was then stretched to control the sale and manufacture of vaping products also. Which then became the Tobacco and Regulated Products Regulations in 2016.
As we have touched on above, this legislation has a lot of different factors to it, with the key points picked out and listed below;
Vape tanks will be no larger than 2ml
eLiquid bottle sizes will be no larger than 10ml
The maximum Nicotine strength available will be 20mg/ml (2%)
Nicotine containing products must carry health warnings (similar to those on tobacco products)
There must be a leak-proof refilling mechanism
Emissions testing and provision of toxicological data by the manufacturers
Restrictions on advertising
All of these factors must be adhered to by manufacturers of vape liquid, or vaping products. And not only does the age limit law apply to vape retailers, but they must also follow the above guidelines and ensure they are compliant with all legislations by not offering anything that differs from the above list, such as 50mg nicotine e liquid, or vape tanks with 5ml capacity.
How we keep compliant at Vape69
As mentioned earlier, we abide by the law of sales to people over the age of 18 only, but we also adhere to the TRPR regulations when it comes to making our e liquid to ensure everything we offer is compliant.
All of our vape juice is tested in house. We have our own flavour house, so that all of our flavours are made from scratch, meaning we know exactly what goes into our e liquid.
The tests that we perform are –
· Nicotine Testing
· Emissions Testing
· Refractive Index & Density
In addition, we pride ourselves on being able to ensure all our flavours are free from any CMRs (carcinogenic, mutagenic, toxic substances) and we can verify this through our industry-standard GC systems.
And our e liquid is developed and made in the UK to the highest standards and registered with the MHRA, complying with the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) and ISO9001.
We hope this blog has shed some light on the subject of the legal vaping age in the UK and answered any questions you may have. As well as shedding some light on different laws from around the world, and the effort we put in to ensure that we keep compliant with all laws and legislations.