Hey there, vapemallow Squad! Today, we’re talking about a hot topic that’s been on everyone’s mind: How Old Do You Have to Be to Vape?

Vaping has taken the world by storm, becoming the top contender against cigarettes and the favorite method for quitting smoking. However, its growing popularity has also attracted a tricky group of customers: curious teens. That’s why regulators and legislators have been busy trying to keep youngsters away from vapor products, mainly by setting a legal age for purchasing vape products.

Much like alcohol, having a legal minimum age for e-cigarettes isn’t a flawless approach, but it’s the most effective way to curb teen vaping. Determining how old you have to be to vape, the age to buy a vape, the penalties for retailers who break the law, and how to enforce age-to-purchase laws is no easy task. If lawmakers get it wrong, they might unintentionally increase youth or adult smoking or even contribute to the creation of a black market.

In many countries, vaping is regulated either as a tobacco product or a standalone consumer product category. In others, it’s not specifically regulated, and in some countries, it’s outright banned. In countries where e-cigarettes are regulated, the legal age for purchasing them is typically the same as the legal adult age. Although this age is 18 in most countries, it can vary. For example, in the United Statesβ€”home to the largest vaping market globallyβ€”the legal vaping age is now 21.

So, how old you need to be to buy a vape in the U.S.?

Under pressure from tobacco control groups and worried parents, Congress passed a federal Tobacco 21 law in December 2019. This law, which was included in the year-end federal appropriations bill, was signed by President Trump on Dec. 20 and took effect immediately. While it covers cigarettes and other tobacco products, the push for the law stemmed from concerns about teen vaping. how old you have to be to vape

The legislation added a clause to the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, stating that it would be illegal for any retailer to sell a tobacco product to anyone under 21 years of age. The law requires each state to demonstrate that the age limit is being enforcedβ€”even if the state hasn’t passed its own Tobacco 21 lawβ€”or risk losing part of its federal substance abuse matching grants.

This law doesn’t impose penalties for purchase, use, or possession by those under 21 (states and municipalities can add those laws), but it does penalize retailers who sell to underage customers. Current local laws that exempt specific groups (like active-duty military members) are now overridden by federal law, which doesn’t have such exemptions.

Why the push for Tobacco 21 laws?

The FDA’s 2016 Deeming Rule included a federal ban on vapor product sales to those under 18. By classifying tobacco-free devices and e-liquids as tobacco products, they automatically fell under the existing federal restriction on selling tobacco products to minors. Tobacco control activists had long demanded a minimum age for purchasing vapes, claiming that the vaping market was like a “wild west” needing FDA regulation. However, the reality is that 48 states already had age restrictions before the federal agency stepped in. how old you have to be to vape

But before the federal age restriction came into play, the push for higher age limits had already begun.

The Big Apple took the lead in 2014, enacting the first-ever Tobacco 21 law. It wasn’t long before other states started to follow suit, with Hawaii stepping up in 2016 and California later that same year. Eventually, a total of 19 states and over 500 cities and counties put T-21 restrictions in place before Congress took federal action.

Proponents of raising the legal age beyond 18 believed that limiting young individuals’ exposure to people who can legally purchase tobacco or vaping products would reduce the number of teens who gain access and become regular users. They pointed out that many high school seniors are already 18, legally able to buy these products and potentially share them with or sell to younger students. However, it’s less common for high school students to have 21-year-old friends.

The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act kept the FDA from pushing the legal age to buy tobacco past 18, which is the age of majority. As a workaround, anti-smoking groups decided to push cities and states to pass their own age limits, which proved successful.

Congress finally greenlit the Tobacco 21 law in December 2019 without any opposition. For some organizations, raising the age to purchase tobacco products was their sole focus. The Tobacco 21 initiative and its parent organization, the Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation, were founded by an Ohio State University medical professor. Both groups oppose smoking and maintain a strict stance against vaping as well. According to the nicotine consumer advocacy group CASAA, T-21 legislation advocates aim to “eventually eliminate tobacco and nicotine products from the marketplace.”

Interestingly, Tobacco 21 founder Rob Crane was against laws that increased the legal age to buy cigarettes if they didn’t include vaping products. The Tobacco 21 website clarifies that the organization only supports raising the age for tobacco products to 21 if it also encompasses e-cigarettes and other nicotine products, without exemptions or preemptions for increased local control.

The 2018-19 vaping controversy, centered around teenage use of the popular JUUL pod vape, led to intensified efforts to ban vapor sales to minors. The 2019 state legislative session saw T-21 proposals in numerous states, which signaled that the demand for a federal law had reached a critical point. Once Congress passed the Tobacco 21 law in December 2019, there was no significant opposition.

However, the Tobacco 21 law doesn’t guarantee that all 18- to 20-year-olds will quit vaping or smoking. Many young adults are likely to opt for the most accessible nicotine product, which could still be cigarettes. One study suggests that raising the minimum legal sales age for vaping products might drive a considerable number of young adult vapers towards cigarettes.

How about the legal age for zero-nicotine products?

The Deeming Rule categorizes e-cigarettes and e-liquid as tobacco products, or components or parts of tobacco products. Since components and parts can modify the performance of a “finished product,” they’re regulated as tobacco products as well.

As long as zero-nicotine e-liquid can be used with a product (like a mod or atomizer) that’s also compatible with nicotine-containing e-juice, it falls under the same regulations. While it might seem nonsensical, this is how the FDA justified including items like atomizer coils, batteries, and computer software in its definition of tobacco products.

Given that it is classified as a tobacco product, selling zero-nicotine e-liquid to individuals under the legal age is prohibited. This regulation applies even though zero-nicotine e-liquid doesn’t contain any tobacco-derived components. The FDA’s classification is based on the fact that these products can be used with devices that also accommodate nicotine-containing e-juice.

This may appear illogical, but this classification allows the FDA to regulate various items related to vaping, such as atomizer coils, batteries, and even computer software, as tobacco products. The FDA’s broad definition of tobacco products has far-reaching implications and consequences for the vaping industry.

As a result, the legal age to purchase zero-nicotine vaping products remains 21, in line with the restrictions on tobacco and other nicotine-containing products. For more information on the regulations governing vaping products, visit the FDA’s website dedicated to tobacco products and their components.

In conclusion, the Tobacco 21 law has changed the landscape of smoking and vaping in the United States. While it may not eliminate all young adult usage, it aims to reduce access to these products and, in turn, lower the prevalence of smoking and vaping among teenagers.

The legal age to vape in different countries

Apart from countries that have completely banned vapes and those without specific vaping regulations, most nations set the legal age to purchase vapor products at the age of majority. This age usually coincides with the legal age for purchasing other adult products. In some countries, individual states or provinces have the authority to set higher legal ages for buying vaping products.

For example, in Canada, the national minimum age is 18, but many provinces and territories have set the legal age for buying vaping products at 19. In Australia, the sale of nicotine-containing consumer products (excluding cigarettes) is illegal without a doctor’s prescription, but non-nicotine vapes are allowed. The legal age to purchase varies from state to state in Australia.

If you’re planning to travel to another country with your vaping products, it’s a good idea to check with the authorities in that country before you leave. This way, you can get the most up-to-date information on local vaping laws and practices. Websites like Johns Hopkins University’s Global Tobacco Control and the Knowledge-Action-Change Global State of Tobacco Harm Reduction provide valuable resources for international vaping regulations.

The age at which adulthood begins is a matter of debate and varies from one person to another. However, legislators are tasked with determining a legal age of majority, which is the age at which a young person can vote, enter contracts, apply for credit, serve in the military, and purchase alcohol, tobacco, and other products deemed unsuitable for minors.

Legislators aim to select an age at which most young people exhibit more adult characteristics than adolescent ones. This age is always a compromise, acknowledging that adults have the liberty to make choices involving risk. The Tobacco 21 law is unique because it deems smoking (and vaping) so risky that young adults who can drive, buy a house, get married, go skydiving, or fight in a war are not allowed to make this choice. Most countries worldwide have not found sufficient evidence to support such an extreme measure.

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