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Is Vaping Legal for Minors?

Teen girl vaping in front of a ruined brick wall  

Can kids vape? Not legally. In spite of dubious claims from vaping companies, vaping is not a safer alternative to cigarette use for teenagers and data has shown that teens who vape are more likely the use cigarettes or other nicotine products in the future.

In light of substantial evidence demonstrating the dangers of teen vaping, the federal government and individual states have both taken steps to limit access to vaping products by minors. Some states have made vaping illegal for people under the age of 21.

Current laws restrict teen vaping, with or without nicotine, in all states.

Is Vaping Without Nicotine Legal for Minors?

In spite of blatant teen-specific advertising from vaping companies, youth vaping is not safe and does not reduce cigarette or nicotine use in the future. Teen vaping in the United States rose from 1.5% in 2011 to 21% in 2018, leading states to take action to prevent vaping use among teenagers.

Current federal regulations prohibit people under the age of 18 from purchasing e-cigarettes, vaping pens, and e-liquids. In addition, several cities and counties have passed stricter vaping laws than their home state has passed.

The Mitchell Hamline School of Law’s Public Health Law Center provides comprehensive, state-specific descriptions of e-cigarette laws.

Legal Age to Vape is 18 in Most States

Teen vaping is associated with serious risks and health consequences, which led the federal government and individual states to pass laws limiting access to e-cigarettes and vaping accessories to minors. While there are variations in the laws between states, it is illegal for people under the age of 18 to purchase vaping products in all states.

There are some state-by-state variations and loopholes that allow teenagers to possess (but not purchase) e-cigarettes or vaping products. For example, Louisiana and Ohio allow teenagers to vape as long as they are with a parent. Other states ban selling vaping products to teenagers under age 18 but do not have specific laws on teenage use or possession of vaping products.

States Raise Legal Vaping Age to 19 or 21

In light of the vaping epidemic that has been linked to several deaths, the vaping ban for minors was extended to include people under the age of 19 or 21 in many states.

States that limit vaping purchases to people ages 19 or older:

  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Nebraska
  • Utah (although the legal age to possess vaping products is 18)

States that limit vaping purchases to people ages 21 or older:

  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • New Jersey
  • Oregon (although the legal age to possess vaping products is 18)
  • Texas
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington (although the legal age to possess vaping products is 18)
  • Washington DC

In spite of flashy marketing and dubious claims made by e-cigarette manufacturers, teen vaping is not safe under any circumstances. Teens often claim that nicotine-free vaping pens pose no risk, but mounting evidence has proven this claim to be incorrect. Nicotine-free flavored vape pens have been linked to serious illnesses, and more than 90% of flavored e-liquids that were tested in a Harvard research study were found to have incredibly dangerous chemicals that can cause lifelong, incurable respiratory diseases.

If you are concerned about teenage substance use, Next Generation Village can help. Contact us today to get more information about our comprehensive rehab programs that are designed for teens ages 13 through 17.

Medical Disclaimer: Next Generation Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.

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