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Can I Vape at 16?

by Theo Wilson

UK Vaping Age

It is the question on everybody’s lips. What is the legal vaping age in the UK? The laws are confusing and the policies are ever-changing, but whether you are a teenager wondering if you can buy from vape shops online, a concerned parent or a retailer considering your target audience, we have got the answer. 

What is the UK Vaping Age?

The short answer is no; anyone under the age of 18 cannot legally purchase any vaping equipment, including eliquids and devices, therefore should not be able to vape before this age. If you are underage and do try to buy anything from myCigara (or any other vaping store) you will be asked for ID, have your prospective kit confiscated and the manager may politely request that you leave the shop. 

The law still applies online; you will have to prove that you are of legal age to vape in the UK through a variety of different checks. We know that many underage individuals might think about asking adults to buy vaping equipment for them, but if the adult is caught doing this, they may face prosecution by the local authority. 

Legislation deliberately makes it hard for underage individuals to own vaping equipment, but retailers, including myCigara, are now going to make it even harder. Vapes are not, and will not be, marketed at those who are underage. In exciting campaign collaborations with Vype and JUUL, we have made sure that we abide by the Challenge 25 policy and this applies to every product we sell. This is why you will not see anybody who looks under the age of 25 in any kind of e-cigarette advertising. 

Despite this, we know that there are some people under the age of 18 who somehow own vaping equipment but there are currently no rules against this. If you are underage and vape at home or in public, you will not be penalised by the police or local authority. This is because UK law is concerned with purchasing or selling vaping equipment rather than owning it.

Whilst this post is up to date with the latest vaping rules, the legislation is constantly under review by the government and various medical bodies, so it is important to do your own research and keep updated with any changes.  

What Do Adults Need to Know?

According to UK law, you become an adult at the age of 18. If you are an adult and choose to vape and purchase equipment for yourself, you will be able to do this unchallenged. Since 1st October 2015, purchasing vaping products for anybody under the age of 18 is a criminal offence.

We also recommend keeping vaping to a minimum around anybody who is underage; in fact, those who work in the transport industry are not permitted to vape in the presence of underage individuals whilst at work.

A Heads Up for Retailers.

For retailers, including myCigara, it is illegal to provide vaping products to anyone under the age of 18. If we were caught doing so, knowingly or unknowingly, we could be fined up to £2,500. Whether selling vapes in a physical or online store, it is crucial we, and other retailers, abide by this law.

Local authorities may conduct a test purchase operation in vaping stores to ensure that retailers are following legislation. This is when the council or police send an underage individual into stores and request that they purchase something. If the store does not ask to see ID and allows the person to buy something, it is the retailer who will be prosecuted, not the underage individual. This is because the criminal offence lies with the retailer (and adult) rather than the person who is underage.

However, retailers are encouraged to follow the Challenge 25 policy to prevent prosecution. Adopted in all myCigara stores, it advises shops to ask for ID from any customer that looks under the age of 25. If the individual is not of legal age to vape, stores should refuse sale and ask that they leave the premises. Additionally, if staff suspect that a customer is purchasing products for underage individuals, they can refuse sale.

Are there Different Age Restrictions Around the World?

Whilst there are a range of different vaping age restrictions across the globe, the age limit for vaping in the UK matches that of most other European countries; the legal age in many countries like Spain, France, Germany and Sweden is 18.

Belgium appears to be the exception to this rule as here, it is acceptable to vape nicotine-free e Liquids from the age of 16 (the legal age to vape without nicotine in the UK is still 18). If you were 16 years old and went on holiday to Belgium, you could legally purchase vaping equipment and vape nicotine-free juices.

However, upon returning to the UK or going through Airport Security, Customs may choose to confiscate your vaping equipment. Despite this, you will not face prosecution under UK law.

The legal age to vape in America was 18 but has recently changed to 21; this is because they are currently facing major issues regarding underage vaping.

This shows that legislation can be scrutinised, prompting medical experts to re-evaluate the effects of vaping, proving that it is always best to be aware of any legal amendments.   

Wait Until 18…

Many young people start vaping because it is considered a social activity; under 18s may worry about missing out if they do not vape, but it is not true. There are many activities that give a positive feeling without potentially costing retailers £2,500, like going for a walk with family or watching a film with friends.

We think the message is simple, for everyone. Be supportive of the vaping community and always follow the law.