Can minors buy vape pens in the UK?
There is a big debate going on right now about whether or not teens should be allowed access to electronic cigarettes. In some ways, it seems like it could be helpful – because allowing teens access to these devices could make them less likely to choose to smoke the real thing.
But on the other hand, a lot of people have reservations about this. They’re afraid that vaping could still get teens addicted to nicotine, and that this could eventually lead to a cigarette habit (the gateway-theory).
But what does the law say? How old do you have to be to buy an electronic cigarette in the UK?
Here’s what you need to know.
The legal age for vaping in the UK
Information! As of October 1st of 2015, it is illegal in Britain for a retailer to sell an electronic cigarette or e-liquid to anyone under the age of 18.
Now with, that being said, an article that was published on dailymail.co.uk in January of 2017 did give us some interesting information regarding how easy it might be for minors to get their hands on nicotine-delivery systems in vape shops – and a lot of people (for good reason) aren’t happy with it.
According to an undercover trading standards operation, it was reported that 90% of the vape shops that were visited sold nicotine-inhaling products to underage volunteers…which raises a lot of questions about the kinds of security measures being employed in vape shops in the UK today.
It is clearly important that vape shops handle this situation better – despite the fact that many people believe that restricting access of vaping supplies from teenagers is a mistake. Mistake or not, the law is the law – and it should be taken seriously.
But beyond this, even a lot of vaping associations do not believe in the practice of selling electronic cigarettes to minors. Even before the law was passed, a lot of vape shops enacted their own policies that kept underage teens from getting access to the devices.
In fact, this news actually comes as quite a surprise to us – because the UK vaping scene has always been one that has been marked with responsibility and thoughtfulness in terms of youth and the sensitivity of the questions surrounding vaping and younger users.
Should minors be using E-cigs at all?
This is, of course, the biggest debate of them all. On one hand, vaping can help teens to stay off of cigarettes – but then again, nicotine is a dangerous substance in larger doses. Should teens really be allowed to carry bottles of E-liquid around with them? Should they be able to just walk into a convenient store and buy an e-cig if they feel the urge for some nicotine in their system?
These are the big questions… but the law in the UK has probably played the biggest role in settling it by setting legal limits on who can actually purchase vaping products from shops.
But this still doesn’t really solve the issue of the ‘smoking vs. vaping’ debate for teens.
Do you put all of your eggs into the ‘quit through traditional methods’ (gum, patches, cold turkey, etc.) basket, or do you fight the evils of smoking with the much, much ‘lesser evil’ of vaping?
Public Health England has been surprisingly supportive of E-cigs since the famous review that caused them to acknowledge, openly and publicly, that E-cigs are up to 95% less harmful than cigarettes – but this doesn’t seem to have had an effect on the legal purchasing age.
It is estimated that there are about 2.8 million vapers in the UK today. But what a lot of people don’t know is that a lot of younger teens, and even pre-teens have been trying vaping. A study done a couple of years ago showed that about 6 percent of 10 and 11 year olds in Wales had already tried E-cigs, compared to just 2 percent who had tried actual cigarettes.
Of course, this isn’t so surprising – but it does cause some to be a bit nervous – hence the legislation, which perhaps is not ill-warranted at all. Even the vaping industry agrees that age limits should be in place for the purchasing of vaping products.