What is the Legal Age to Vape and How to Avoid Compliance Fines.
What is the Legal Age to Vape?
Vaping (also known as e-cigarettes) has snowballed over the past decade to become a competing cigarette product. As its popularity has grown, so has its usage among teenagers and children.
Regulators and legislators are employing various tactics to discourage teens from using e-cigarette products. The most common is specifying the age at which consumers can purchase vape products. In addition, the law requires online sellers of vaping products to use age verification technologies to ensure they are not selling to underage clients.
In different countries, regulators treat e-cigarettes as a tobacco product, as a separate category of consumer product, or have no specific regulation for vaping:
- Some countries ban vaping entirely.
- In countries that regulate vaping, the legal age to vape is typically the same age at which smoking is allowed.
Related content: Read our guide to the legal age for smoking (coming soon)
In this article:
- Vaping in the US: Legal Age and Regulations
- Vape in Europe: Legal Age and Regulations
- Age Verification for Vape Products
- Vaping Age Verification with BlueCheck
Vaping in the US: Legal Age and Regulations
As of December 20, 2019, federal vaping law set the legal age for purchasing vaping products in all states at 21. However, the new law does not penalize people under 21 for buying, using, or possessing vaping products—it only applies to retailers who sell to underage customers.
Before the new law, the minimum age was 18—specific states could set a higher minimum age, but 31 states had adopted the federal minimum age of 18 and now raised the minimum age to 21. Also, previous state and municipal laws exempted certain groups, such as active-duty military members, but the new federal law canceled these exemptions.
After the FDA issued a new enforcement policy, Congress passed the law that includes a 21-year minimum age for e-cigarettes. The FDA responded to concerns about the dangers of e-cigarettes to teenagers. One of the major concerns was EVALI; a lung illness thought to be caused by vitamin E acetate in vaping products.
Vape in Europe: Legal Age and Regulations
In the UK, France, Sweden, Germany, and most of Europe, the legal age for e-cigarettes is 18.
The primary legislation governing vaping products in the European Union is the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD). The introduction of TPD was in 2014, but most of the rules affecting e-cigarettes did not come into effect until 2017. TPD regulations primarily affect manufacturers and distributors of e-liquids, e-cigarettes, and other vapor-based breathing devices.
TPD has implemented several rules for vapor-absorbing products, which relate to e-liquid packaging. These include minimum safety and quality standards, standards for consumer health information, and the implementation of safeguards to prevent children's exposure to e-liquid and other vapor-breathing products.
The main TPD rules that affect e-cigarette users are:
- In preventing overconsumption, vaping tanks must be limited to no more than 2ml before refilling.
- E-liquids containing nicotine can no longer be purchased in individual containers larger than 10ml.
- E-liquids sold in the UK and EU are not allowed to have more than 20mg/ml of nicotine.
- All nicotine-containing products and packaging, including nicotine-containing e-liquids, must be child-resistant and tamper-resistant to ensure the safety of vapers and their surroundings.
- Non-essential ingredients in e-liquids, such as caffeine, taurine, and colorants, are prohibited.
- Strict regulations for e-liquid packaging labels regarding user information and warnings.
- In the UK, e-cigarettes and e-liquids must be registered with the UK Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Authority (MHRA) before a business may sell the product.
Age Verification for Vape Products
It is illegal to sell vapes, e-cigarettes, or e-liquids to persons under the legal age in most jurisdictions. Therefore, for an online store to be legal, it must be able to identify the age of its customers before selling.
An age verification solution allows vape product retailers to ensure they meet age requirements, avoid fines for selling vape products to underage persons, and ensure a convenient user experience for legitimate buyers.
Online age verification for vape products typically works as follows:
- The customer provides an ID document such as a passport or driver's license.
- The age verification solution processes the ID document and extracts details such as name, date of birth, and location.
- The solution might cross-reference this data with other databases to verify the information.
- The solution will typically use a combination of face recognition, biometrics, and identity verification to validate that the buyer is indeed the one pictured in the ID document.
An effective age verification solution performs the onboarding process quickly and conveniently while accurately verifying age to make it difficult for underage clients to purchase vaping products and avoid compliance penalties.
Age Verification with BlueCheck
BlueCheck's industry-leading identity verification infrastructure enables merchants to grow their business faster. Serving a wide variety of industries, our solutions are custom-tailored to the unique needs of our customers, including PACT Act and eCommerce compliant offerings.