What Is the Legal Age to Vape Worldwide?
Vaping products and e-cigarettes are extremely popular products that lawmakers and health officials are still trying to figure out.
This technology is new, with many misunderstandings about the vaping world affecting its perception. One factor adding to the confusion is that the legal age changes in many countries around the world.
How might the different laws impact you when buying a vape while travelling out of the country?
Read on to discover how vaping laws and vaping regulations vary worldwide and get an idea of what it could mean for you.
What Is the Legal Vaping Age in the UK?
The national legal age is 18 years old, the youngest legal age to vape and purchase e-cigarettes. The age restriction is currently the same as traditional cigarettes, and it is not legal for younger people such as 16.
The vaping age restrictions came into effect in 2015. UK law forbids sellers from letting minors legally purchase vaping products and anyone over 18 to buy on behalf of a minor.
Do the Same Rules Apply to 0% Nicotine E-liquid and Vaping Products?
Zero-nicotine products are in a grey area, as the laws around age restrictions for young persons pertain to e-liquids that specifically contain nicotine. So, there is no current specific federal age restriction for zero nicotine e-liquid. That said, store owners and retailers are not likely to sell to a 13-year-old.
As one can refill many vaping products with nicotine or without, it is tricky to determine what is and what isn't illegal. Many online retailers have decided to apply the same minimum age limit for non-nicotine e-liquid as well.
Is the Legal Age to Vape Around the World Always the Same as Tobacco Products?
While laws around tobacco or nicotine products are unlikely to become more lax, laws that permit users to buy vaping equipment and e-liquids and import them are still in their infancy.
In the USA, until recently, the legal age to buy vapes and cigarettes was 18. However, the legal age to vape in the USA is currently 21 years old.
This federal law came from research facilitated by the Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation, which was concerned about teen vaping and smoking. In 2019, Tobacco 21 passed, affecting all states and raising the federal limit to be the same age limit for cigarettes as alcohol.
The changes reflect broader concerns about public health and a fear of underage vaping. Many concerned parents feel that they do not want their children of school age to purchase nicotine, a highly addictive substance. As many of their children are young adults and, in some cases, high school seniors, these new laws have only recently passed.
Up north, things are more complicated. There is no current federal law that forbids people to purchase vapes, vape liquid and e-liquid at any age in Canada as there are for tobacco products. However, different provinces have their own age restrictions.
In Ontario, British Columbia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island, regulations prevent persons under 19 from purchasing vaping products. However, in Quebec, the age has been set at 18. Many other provinces have no current age limits but carry different restrictions that may affect purchases by young adults.
While many countries in Europe regulate selling vapes and buying vaping equipment, many central European countries, such as Germany, France, and Sweden, have all set their legal ages to vape at 18.
For most of these countries, this is the identical age limit to tobacco restrictions, which remain lower in Europe than in the USA & Canada. Different European countries have debated what age they consider appropriate for their young people to display "adult traits" such as purchasing tobacco products. Many people in Europe believe that by 18 years old, a person is old enough to choose.
This viewpoint is not true of all countries in Europe. Turkey, for example, which borders Asia and Europe, has some of the strictest bans on these products in the world. This rigour is due to a current crackdown on the tobacco culture, including nicotine vapes. In Turkey, it is illegal to import vape products completely. The ban is unlikely to change any time soon.
In Australia, the legal tobacco age is currently 18. While the legal age to vape is set as 18 and over, Australia's national legal age is not at simple as it seems. Vaping is still technically legal in the country, but many strict laws regulate when and for what purpose residents can purchase tobacco products or import them from overseas.
Since 2021, Australians can no longer buy over-the-counter vaping equipment, sell e liquids, or even buy e-cigarettes, including imports of e-liquid from other countries. The only possible way to access e-cigarettes is with a doctor's prescription.
The difference between what the Australian government considers tobacco replacement products and what aren't is a confusing distinction. Tobacco replacement products are a grouping that includes e-cigarettes and are sold via prescription through a doctor to help guide the user away from traditional tobacco products.
There are no restrictions on the legal adult age to vape in China. However, there are restrictions on buying and selling vaping products, which retailers cannot sell to persons under 18 years of age.
China is in the process of tightening and refocussing laws on e-cigarette sales and control of the vaping production industry. Retailers must go through proper channels to sell their vape devices, and they can only sell tobacco-flavoured products.
The restrictive measures are a reaction to health concerns about young people and pregnant or lactating women. The new changes could affect the legal age to buy and use vapor products in the future.
The legal age to buy a vape in Japan is unofficially 20 years old. While buying a vape currently has no age restriction, tobacco products, including liquids, do. To purchase e-liquids, you must be over the age of 20. The Government of Japan considers nicotine products to be strictly medical devices to help quit smoking.
As there is no strict law prohibiting the sale of vapes to minors, it is technically legal. However, as this is a legal grey area, many stores enforce the age of 20 for e-cigarette products, vape pens and other vape products, as this is the legal smoking age for tobacco products.
In Brazil, nicotine vape products are restricted to all persons, while persons who want to buy traditional tobacco products must be over 18. E-cigs are legal only as nicotine replacement aids, and such exemptions exist in other places where the product is banned.
Since 2009, it has been illegal to buy or sell vaping products in the country. While the tobacco industry can sell tobacco, as usual, vaping laws target nicotine alternatives.
While the illegal vaping market explodes in Brazil, recent government reports suggest efforts are underway to determine the right course of action. It could mean a change in policy at a future date.
It is permitted for persons in Korea under 19 to use vape products. However, vaping in Korea is under constant pressure. It has led to heavy taxes on e liquids, mainly when imported. The country's attempts to regulate e-cigarettes are an ongoing process that looks not to be slowing down.
After fears of the EVALI cases in the US, the Korean government began studying the effects on health and restricting e-liquids from certain brands.
The reports also led to worry about the product enticing young people toward smoking. The report classifies any product that contains nicotine as a tobacco product.
Is Vaping or Electronic Cigarettes Illegal in Any Countries?
Several countries currently have no laws on selling vaping equipment to persons of any age. However, it does not mean that these countries have banned e-cig products or vaping, just that they have yet to put forward any legislature.
There are over 40 countries that have outright banned electronic cigarettes. Examples include Brazil, Colombia, India, North Korea, Qatar and Singapore. Thailand has even some controversial laws that could punish people for having these items for up to 10 years.
Any new technology takes time before it gains public acceptance, and vaping is no different. While it may take time, many new studies are presenting vaping in a different light, and the stigma of being 'another tobacco product' is perhaps beginning to lift.
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