Since the introduction of electronic vaping devices, many smokers have been trying to quit cigarettes and switch to e-cigarettes instead. The rise in vaping concerns both parents and lawmakers alike, so the question is, do you have to be 18 to vape?
The Legal Age to Vape in the US
The legal age to purchase and use nicotine products, including vaping devices, varies across the United States. In December 2019, the US Congress raised the legal age for buying tobacco products, including e-cigarettes or vaping devices, from 18 to 21 nationwide.
This legislation, known as the Tobacco 21, was signed into law by President Donald Trump and went into effect immediately, which means anyone under the age of 21 cannot legally buy e-cigarettes or vaping devices in the United States.
The Reasons behind the Legal Age Increase
The increase in the legal age to buy vaping products is aimed at reducing the number of young people who start vaping. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had reported a surge in e-cigarette use among teenagers before the age increase, with over 27.5% of high school students and over 10.5% of middle school students reported using e-cigarettes in 2019. This percentage represented a significant increase from 2018.
States with Specific Age Restrictions
While the federal age limit is 21, there are some states that have their own rules pertaining to vaping age limits. In some states, the legal age to buy vaping products is still 18, while others have raised it to 19 or 20. Conversely, some states in the US have implemented a complete ban on vaping products altogether.
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The Consequences of Underage Vaping
Even though vaping may seem like a harmless pastime, the consequences for underage vaping can be incredibly severe.
Aside from causing harm to their developing brains, underage students caught vaping in schools or on school grounds could face suspension or expulsion. Additionally, their parents could get a hefty fine for their child’s vaping, ranging from $75 to $300.
Possible Health Risks
While e-cigarettes can be useful in helping people quit smoking, they are not entirely risk-free. E-cigarettes contain nicotine, which is highly addictive and can harm brain development in individuals under 25 years of age. Nicotine can also cause other health problems, including lung disease, cardiovascular problems, and cancer.
The Importance of Parental Monitoring
While the government is doing everything possible to regulate the sale of e-cigarettes to young people, parents need to do their part as well.
Parents can make a huge difference in preventing underage vaping by monitoring their child’s purchases. Checking their child’s bags, monitoring their bank accounts, or simply asking questions are great approaches that can prevent underage vaping.
Talking to their Children about Vaping
Parents can educate young people about the potential dangers of vaping and what they need to watch out for. Honest and open conversation about vaping can help kids make informed decisions about what they should and shouldn’t be doing.
Leading by Example
The best way for parents to prevent their children from vaping is by leading by example. If parents smoke or use e-cigarettes, it is more likely that their children will follow in their footsteps. Quitting smoking or vaping is a great way to lead by example.
The Bottom Line
The legal age to buy e-cigarettes or other vaping products varies across the states, however, federal law mandates that anyone under the age of 21 cannot legally buy these products in the US. It is also worth noting that just because it is legal for someone to do something does not necessarily mean it is safe or appropriate.
Common Questions About Vaping and the Legal Age
Here are some common questions regarding vaping and the legal age to vape:
Q: What is vaping?
A: Vaping refers to the use of electronic cigarettes or similar devices that enable the user to inhale vapor rather than traditional cigarette smoke.
Q: How old do I have to be to buy vaping products?
A: The legal age for purchasing vaping products in the US is 21.
Q: What happens if I am caught vaping underage?
A: The consequences vary from state to state, but you can face school-related consequences, fines, and even incarceration in some states.
Q: Is vaping legal in the US?
A: Yes, vaping is legal in the US, but the sale of e-cigarettes to anyone under the age of 21 is illegal.