UK Vaping Ages - The Law
Here is what happens when you open an account or attempt to make a purchase on our website. As per the UK law banning the sale of e-cigarettes, disposables and e-liquids to under 18s, we do a little prompting. Our age verification process will ask you for your date of birth. We use a leading credit reference agency to verify the age you entered against any registered details you might have- not to check up on your monthly car payments. To make sure we’re not selling nicotine to kids.
Laws In The UK Are Clear (Except When They're Not)
In 2015, the UK government updated its laws on the sales of cigarettes and tobacco products to include e-liquid.
Illegal to purchase e-liquids containing nicotine as an adult for an under 18
Illegal to sell e-liquids containing nicotine to under 18s, in-store or online
With a £2,500 maximum fine that vendors breaking this law will be smacked with
The 0% Nicotine Question
The grey area turns cloudy very quickly when it comes to nicotine, though. The law itself doesn’t specify 0% liquids. The general consensus is that selling 0% nicotine liquids is contested, but most reputable vendors (including us) draw the line at the sale of any e-liquid. If you’re 15 and shopping around for e-liquids, you won’t be getting them from us.
Teen Vaping And The “Kiddy Temptation” Issue
You’d need to be living under a rock not to know that US officials are getting everybody’s knickers in a twist over the so-called “Teen Vaping Epidemic”. Scott Gottlieb of the US Food and Drug Administration is making a lot of enemies in the vaping world thanks to heavyweight threats to ban candy flavoured e-liquids in America.
While skeptics wonder if this is basically just America’s TPD done a different way, the basis for the concern does carry some justification. In April 2018, CNN called vaping among US high schoolers “an epidemic”. The article seemed to have cherry-picked some of the most worrying statistics around- 900% from 2011 to 2016 is what the e-cig use increase is reported to be in high schoolers. That figure may be accurate, but so is the figure from the US’ National Institute on Drug Abuse. They state that e-cig use in 10th graders sits at 14%. Whether that refers to habitual use or “tried it once”...who knows.
“We cannot allow a whole new generation to become addicted to nicotine.” - Scott Gottlieb of the US FDA.
Nobody wants that. Parents don’t. We certainly don’t. When the NIDB surveyed US teens about what they say is in their e-cig, 66% said “just flavouring”. The percentage who answered to “nicotine” was 13.2%. This is where we get a bit mad. What’s bugging us here most, is that these teens might be ingesting nicotine because they’re unaware that 0% nicotine exists. Those teens purchasing e-liquids with nicotine from so-called “reputable” vendors? Oh, look. We just reached 100% mad.
What's In Branding?
A big part of Scott Gottlieb’s argument for shutting down candy or sweet-flavoured e-liquids is that the packaging and branding “attracts teens”. This directly contradicts PHE’s reports: Vaping is not a gateway to smoking.
“Only a tiny proportion of teens vape, smoking rates have continued to go down, and there’s no evidence e-cigs are a gateway into smoking.” - Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Action on Smoking and Health
Deborah further states that “the danger is that a flavour ban will benefit the tobacco industry not public health, as it will discourage smokers from switching to vaping.”
Think she’s kidding? Tobacco company stocks gained $20 billion in value on the FDA’s looming threat of flavour bans. Branding plays a big role in everything. Tobacco flavoured e-liquids might have a tobacco leaf on them. They don’t encourage smoking. This is where we feel for the manufacturers of candy flavoured e-liquids. What exactly are they supposed to stick on the packaging? Bran Flakes?
What we’d love to see, is some decent education on vaping. The fact that no teen should ever be vaping nicotine when they never smoked. Honestly, we don’t really think they should be vaping that young, but we can’t stop it. All we can do is ensure that we’re not playing a part in it. Precisely why we verify age. What we are seeing here in the UK is that underage vaping is still relatively low, and that the majority of vendors do follow the strict rules on selling to over 18s. Of course, there is and always will be room for improvement.
Vaping Age Restrictions Around The World
Here they are, in a nutshell:
Vaping sales in the US are prohibited to under 21s or under 18s, depending on the state. In California, Hawaii, Oregon, New Jersey, and Maine, it’s 21+. In all 42 other states, it’s 18+.
In Australia, liquid nicotine is classified as a poison. Sales are banned.
In Canada, sales of e-liquids and vaping supplies are banned to under 19s.
Europe is a mish-mash. Most countries carry the UK’s 18+ minimum. This includes France, Spain and Sweden.
Vaping is currently illegal in Turkey, Thailand, Belgium, Mexico, plus some South American and Middle Eastern destinations.
Staying Compliant (Add Us To The "Yes" List)
Teens in America are now “Juuling”- their words, not ours. Honestly, thinking back to when we were teens, we’d do anything as long as it was cool. Vaping gets interesting here. When Hon Lik invented the e-cig in 2003 after having witnessed his father die from smoke-related cancer, he certainly didn’t plan the next “in” thing. Hon was literally about designing a tobacco, tar and carbon monoxide-free alternative to smoking that would save lives.
Then we got dope flavours like custard shortbread biscuit and Dinner Lady’s multi-award winning Lemon Tart. We got tricksters like @_justpeachyy. Vaping got cool.
At Vape Superstore, we’re all about getting smokers to make the switch. What we aren’t about, is getting under 18s hooked. We never sell to under 18s, either in-store or online. Our e-liquids are all TPD-compliant. They undergo rigorous, independent inspection and we only deal with manufacturers using pharmaceutical grade nicotine. Much like the top-of-the-range hardware brands for our mods and batteries, nothing under our roof is done by half.
1. Rules about tobacco, e-cigarettes and smoking - gov.uk
2. Nicotine Does Not Cause Cancer - Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
3. Clearing up some myths around e-cigarettes - publichealthmatters.blog.gov.uk
4. E-cigarettes around 95% less harmful than smoking - gov.uk