How Old Do You Have to Be to Vape in the UK?

Posted by Pure E-Liquids on 28th Dec 2023

Two People Vaping 

Vaping is a current trend and cessation tool for smokers that is rapidly rising in popularity as each year passes.

While it’s an effective option for those who wish to quit cigarettes for good, unfortunately, it’s also become a temptation for the youth of today who may be underage, if not enforced correctly.

Today we’re going to clear up an important issue, answering the key question of how old you must be to legally vape in the UK.

Is it Legal to Vape at 16?

The straightforward answer is no – you cannot vape at the age of 16. With similar laws to cigarettes, vape products - whether they contain nicotine or even 0% - can only legally be purchased by someone aged 18 or over.

While a recent study highlighted the strongest evidence yet that vaping is more effective than other nicotine replacement therapies to quit cigarettes, youth vaping is still a concern for the UK government and future generations.

With that in mind, parliament have taken the positive step of increasing the smoking age by one year annually so eventually no one will be able to smoke.

Nevertheless, vaping is not intended as a cultural trend for young people and is instead only beneficial to those 18 or older who need to quit smoking but are finding it a difficult task. You can not vape at 16 and you certainly shouldn’t be smoking at this age.

At the age of 16, it’s unlikely that you’re already addicted to smoking cigarettes but considering they have been around for decades and it’s only now that the UK is hoping to make the nation smokefree by 2030.

What Happens if You Are Caught Vaping Under Age?

If a young person is caught with a vape in their possession under the age of 18 and does not have an I.D. to prove their age, the e-cigarette could be confiscated at the very least.

Whoever sells e-cigarettes to someone under 18 years - whether that’s a business or an adult buying and then giving to a minor could face a fine or further criminal prosecution.

Any business should understand the rules and apply the Think25 policy or verify the age before sale, whether that’s vape kits, liquids or accessories.

To enforce these measures, the UK government is cracking down on the sale and use of illegal vapes.

Measures they have taken include:

  • Removing the loophole of ‘free sample’ vape giveaways to kids
  • Announcement of a review into banning the vaping industry from selling ‘nicotine-free’ vapes to those under 18
  • Review of rules for the issue of on-the-spot fines and fixed penalty notices to businesses that sell products to those under the age of 18

Is It OK to Buy a Vape Without Nicotine?

Although nicotine is the most dangerous chemical in an e-cigarette and is highly addictive, the act of vaping is not advised for anyone other than those who need the tool to help them quit smoking.

A person can purchase vape products without nicotine to help reduce their nicotine levels but is not risk-free, even without nicotine.

Nicotine itself can cause side effects but is not considered dangerous as a standalone chemical. When it is found in cigarettes, creating an addictive nature, along with thousands of other dangerous toxins where the true danger lies.

We cannot stress highly enough that vaping is not intended for adults who have never smoked or vaped. And it’s certainly not intended for young people under the age of 18. With or without nicotine, a vape product's sole purpose is to get an adult smoker off cigarettes for good.

Even with a parent's permission, vaping at any age under 18, using an e-liquid containing nicotine or not, whether that’s 16 years old, 17 or even younger is not permitted legally.

Final Thoughts

Let’s summarise by stating the facts first of all. You can not buy, sell or use a vape unless you’re at the adult age of 18 years or older. Vaping is not something you should consider lightly or as part of a recreation or to fit in with friends.

Instead, e-cigarettes are one of the most effective options to help adult smokers quit. They do however fall under the same bracket as cigarettes in terms of legal sale and use according to UK law despite containing different ingredients.

While we know the damage smoking can cause, there is still long-term medical research required to understand the full impact of vaping. And even if you are thinking of purchasing e-cigarette products that do not contain nicotine, you still need to be older than 18.

This is in place to prevent people from vaping needlessly or for recreational reasons as that’s not the intention of the product upon creation back in 2003. The laws are in place to protect minors and to consider the long-term health of those who do not smoke or vape.

Vaping is a current trend and cessation tool for smokers that is rapidly rising in popularity as each year passes.