Vaping Laws: How Old Do You Need To Be To Vape In The UK?

Vaping Popularity

Over the past decade, the global popularity of vaporizers has soared beyond anyone’s imagination.
The vaping industry has grown at an exponential rate. In the UK alone there are believed to be over 3 million people choosing to vape.

For a large proportion of people, the decision to vape has arisen from the desire to quit smoking. Both the Government and NHS have consistently advocated vaping over tobacco. Detailed reports published by Public Health England (PHE) confirm that vaping e-liquid is at least 95% safer than smoking tobacco.

Vaping Laws

The PHE’s position is very clear on this and they have thrown considerable weight behind actively endorsing the use of a vaporizer to aid smokers to quit cigarettes.

In addition to devices for e-liquid, there is also a large market for weed vaporizers. Dry herb vaporizers can be used for vaping an array of different herbs to gain specific effects and health supplements. Many people who once smoked cannabis are now choosing to use a weed vaporizer in order to reduce the risks that come with tobacco.

Vaping Law

Concerns

However, the millions of people vaping is not solely made up of ex-smokers. Research is showing that vaporizers and e-liquids are becoming increasingly popular with a younger demographic. A recent report from PHE states that roughly one in six children aged between 11 and 18 has tried e-cigarettes. That figure amounts to a massive 15.9% of children in this age group who have tried vaping since 2014, a rise of 8.1% since 2014.

The concern amongst health officials is that the UK will follow the US trend where it is reported that 1 in 5 young people now regularly use vaporizers.
Vaping Laws

The fact of the matter is that, although vaping is far safer to health than smoking and a successful way to quit tobacco, there remains no way of knowing what effects it could have on health in the long term. Until weed vaporizers, e-cigarettes and e-liquids have stood the test of time and officials can gather the evidence, this cannot be known.

In order to protect young people from any potential risks, the government has placed strict age restrictions on sales and purchases of vaporizers as well as the e-liquids that go with them.

The Law

When vaping was first introduced to the UK, there was no legislation in place to prevent people of any age purchasing e-cigarettes. The vaping trend gathered momentum at lightning speed and the government quickly realised that laws would need to be put in place with regards to sales of vaporizers and e-liquids to minors.

In 2015 new laws and guidelines were put into place in respect of sales of e-cigarettes and e-liquids. The law, which applies to both online and brick and mortar stores, states that it is illegal for retailers to sell e-cigarettes or e-liquids (with nicotine) to anyone under the age of 18 and that it is also illegal for an adult to purchase either of them for someone under 18.

However, as the law does not mention nicotine free e-liquids this area remains ambiguous and is very much open to interpretation for retailers and proxy purchasers.

With regards to weed vaporizers the law remains the same when it comes to the sale and purchase of them. UK law prohibits the use of cannabis and of course that still applies to everyone, regardless of age,

Punishment

Any retailer caught breaking this law can be fined up to £2500, however, it is not a criminal offense for the minor to attempt to buy the vaporizer or liquid. The onus is 100% on the retailer to ask for proof of age ID if at all unsure.

Any adult caught purchasing vaping paraphernalia for a person under the age of 18 (known as proxy purchasing) will also be breaking the law and will incur a fine as well as a criminal record.

Is it Illegal to Vape Under the Age of 18?

Whilst it is against UK law to sell to or purchase vape products for a minor, it is not a criminal offense for a person under the age of 18 to vape.

In other words, a minor may use an e-cigarette or weed vaporizer publicly or privately, and they will not be breaking any law. This includes vaping e-liquid which contains nicotine. In the eyes of the law, only how the vaporizer and e-liquid is obtained is under scrutinization.

The same rule applies to smoking tobacco, although the police have the right to confiscate the cigarettes if they believe the person smoking to be under 16. This is not the case for e-cigarettes however. A minor is perfectly within their legal rights to be in possession of a vaporizer whatever their age.

Might Vaporizer

Image Link Mighty Vaporizer 

Whilst it is legal for minors to use vaporizers, it is still not necessarily socially acceptable. There are not many adults that would be comfortable witnessing a child vaping, in fact most would deem it as inappropriate as a child smoking.

However, although adults may be concerned for the safety of children using a vaporizer, many children view it as fun and harmless.

There is on-going debate looking at the marketing of e-liquid products in particular. It has been argued, for example, that some flavours and packaging are clearly aimed at a younger market. Some conscientious sellers choose not to stock e-liquids that appear to do this. However, manufacturers maintain that their target audience is adults and that they are simply tapping into a nostalgic theme.

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