How Old Do You Have To Be To Vape In The UK
How Old Do You Have To Be To Vape in the UK?
In recent years the United Kingdom’s vaping laws have undergone a great deal of change, leaving retailers and buyers with a new, legal landscape to navigate. One wrong move and you could be breaking a law that you never knew existed, a fact not helped by the sometimes-vague implementation of regulations.
Having a grasp on the laws regarding the legal age to buy and use vaping products is imperative to your peace of mind. The fact that the laws themselves are fairly new can make it even more challenging and result in confusion.
Find out below how old you have to be to vape in the UK, in addition to other important factsyou may be interested to know.
Vaping Laws of the UK
When vaping first took the UK by storm the craze ran riot. Unchecked and unrestricted, it was quickly inserted into the lives of many UK citizens. By the time the UK government stepped in, the national vaping community was 3.6 million strong and rapidly growing. Seeing the trend explode across the country sent the government into a lawmaking frenzy to try and add some level of control.
The first vaping legislation hit the UK public in 2015 and has undergone scrutiny in the years since. Constantly under review, the UK vaping laws are, more than anything, a method to prevent the sale of vaping equipment to minors.
Vaping and the use of e-cigarettes has its roots firmly planted in the realm of smoking alternatives. The proportion of ex-smokers who now vape continues to grow, reaching a staggering 54.1% in 2019. With such a huge collection of people using vapes in the name of smoking addiction relief, the government felt it unwise to heavily restrict their distribution. They instead opted for a system that protects ex-smokers but prevents access from minors.
Since the inception of these legislations, they have continued on this path of support to foster recovery for UK smokers. However, there are suggestions that certain parameters of vaping laws in the UK may see a major change soon. This could possibly result in heavier restrictions.
What is the Legal Age to Buy a Vape In The UK
The aforementioned 2015 vaping legislation was implemented to prohibit the sale of vaping hardware and equipment to those under the age of 18. These laws applied to high-street stores as well as the online market to prevent minors from ordering vapes and e-liquids online under false aliases.
Under the same law came a few other restrictions. Adults were banned from purchasing e-cigarettes on behalf of minors and it became illegal to vape when in a car with a person younger than 18 years of age.
Breaching these laws, selling vaping equipment and e-liquids to minors, could land you a penalty of up to £2,500.
In 2016 a number of additional legislations came into effect, these changes to the law included:
- A limitation of tank sizes, prohibiting tanks from exceeding a 2ml capacity
- E-liquid packaging was to be tamper proof and childproof
- A max capacity of 10ml was put on all e-liquids containers
- Stimulants and colourings, such as taurine and caffeine, were not to be added to e-liquids
- All e-liquids and e-cigarettes were to be registered with the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory (MHPR) before distribution
- New rules and guidelines were also applied to labels
The government, in a display of competence and forethought, made these regulations applicable to online stores as well as those on the high-street. Even those who promoted vaping products on their social media were bound by these restrictions.
There are many sectors in the vaping industry, from distributors to brewers, each has a set of strict laws they must follow. It is vital that you align yourself with the appropriate regulations, lest you will unwittingly break the law.
UK vaping and e-cigarette laws are a constantly shifting landscape. At times, it can seem like an amorphous collection of ambiguous ideas and clouded government input. For example, the current law sits on the fence between whether or not it is legal to sell e-liquids with 0% nicotine.
What About the Vaping Equipment You Already Own?
Despite the constant reviews and updates to vaping laws, a grey area still exists. Whilst it is illegal for a minor to purchase or obtain vaping products, it remains perfectly legal for them to use said products.
Though the government is opposed to letting minors use vaping equipment, due to a lack of concrete evidence supporting negative health impacts, lawmakers are yet to prohibit access from those aged 18 and under.
This also implies that any vaping hardware and products purchased by minors prior to the introduction of the 2015 legislation, would probably remain their rightful and legal property.
Where is Vaping Banned in the UK?
Unlike the US and Australia, who imposed a series of statewide bans on vapes, no official, regional legislations banning e-cigarettes are currently in place in the UK. Though a bill was put forward by Wales to ban the use of vapes in public spaces occupied by children, the bill was never brought to light.
It seems Wales is the epicentre of the UK’s anti-vaping community, making one of its beaches smoke-free and extending that same injunction to vapes. Even so, there are no legal ramifications for breaching the ban.
A caveat to the lack of vape-related bans is the power granted to individual business owners, who can suppress the use of e-cigarettes on their own property. Many airlines and other transport links have already passed the motion to forbid the act of vaping within their spaces.
So, despite the absence of national or regional bans, it is good practice to check with independent organisations before you risk breaching their rules.
Limitations on E-liquids
The EUTPD currently has control over the strength and quantity of e-liquids. As previously stated, there are limits to the capacity of both vaping tanks and e-liquid containers. The former is capped at 10ml and the latter at 2ml. Originally, the nicotine strength of an e-liquid was restricted to 24% but this was reduced to 20% as of May 2017 in an attempt to reduce nationwide nicotine consumption.
A comprehensive process awaits any vape manufacturer looking to release a new product. All information regarding the product must be submitted to the government for approval before it can be released to the public. The manufacturer must also abide by a 6-month waiting period following submission.
A Liberal Perspective
Compared to the global consensus, the UK has a fairly liberal perspective on vaping products. Where most have banned, limited and or suffocated the vaping industry, the UK, understanding the need that many smokers have to quit tobacco cigarettes, has allowed it to blossom.
Vaping is now widely recognised as a healthier alternative to traditional smoking and viewed as a key to national recovery. The UK government very wisely prohibits the purchase of vaping products by youths, to protect them from picking up unnecessary habits.
The unspoken code ‘says’ that vapers must always aim to comply with the rules set out by individual organizations. This type of supportive and tolerant environment in conjunction with vape-friendly regulations makes the UK vaping scene one of the very best in the world.