If you’re wondering how old do you have to be to vape, starting from the Tobacco 21 restriction might be a good idea. As the legislation’s name suggests, the U.S. federal government prohibits retailers from selling any tobacco products, including cigarettes and e-cigarette devices, to those under 21 with no exceptions.
Tobacco 21 was in the first place a nationwide campaign in the U.S. striving to raise the minimum age for tobacco and nicotine sales from 18 to 21. The sweeping calls from the public ended up as the FDA’s official amendments to the federal minimum age of vape use. In December 2019, the change came into effect right after the President Trump signed it into law.
The Minimum Age of Vape Purchase Varies between Countries
America is one of the strictest countries in regulating vapes without a doubt. In contrast, Europe takes a much more relaxed stance on vape purchase. According to the EU’s Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), 25 EU member countries pin their minimum age of buying vaping products on 18 years old as of today. If you’re in Belgium or Austria, the age limit comes down even lower at 16 years. What stands in sharper contrast is another fact—a majority of European governments have imposed no restriction on vape consumption at all.
It goes without saying that the legal age for e-cigarette purchase or consumption actually varies from country to country. There is no universal age limit on vape use around the world. It’s largely up to the regulators’ attitudes towards vaping. Actually, the minimum age also varies within America, as each state can decide its own law and some might set the bar lower at 18 or 19, in spite of the federally demanded 21. For example, Ohio and Florida both approve sales of vaping products to consumers as long as they have reached 18 years old.
What Vaping Products Are Subject to the Tobacco 21?
In the FDA’s language, tobacco products encompass an extremely vast range of items associated with tobacco and nicotine. Hence, to put it simply, the Tobacco 21 applies to vaping devices of all stripes from giant mods to handy pod systems. The restriction even goes beyond vaping hardware to all accessories and gears related to vapes, including e-liquid and pre-filled pods. Even if in cases where the e-liquid contains zero nicotine, the sales of them to those under 21 is federally forbidden anyways.
Why the U.S. Lawmakers Raise the Bar?
Although vaping is known to bring much less harms on human health than smoking, the benefits are limited to adults only. Scientists have found a direct link between the vape use of teenagers and impaired brain development. That pushed American lawmakers to take actions. Raising the age limit is actually an attempt at cushioning the youths against damages to their relatively vulnerable brains. The recent flavor bans are aiming for the same purpose. Some states hope to decrease the number of teenager vapers by reducing the choices in e-liquid flavors, especially those fruity and creamy ones.
The FDA has built a well-grounded system to randomly inspect vape retailer’s sales activities, called tobacco compliance check inspection. Once it identifies sales of vaping products to those under 21, corresponding punishment will follow at once. If a retailer violates the age restriction for the first time, the FDA will send a warning letter; while repeated violations could possibly incur severe penalties or the authority’s order on forbidding future sales.