Underage Vaping in the UK

UK is one of the most “vaping popular” countries around the globe, particularly in the past few years, vaping has seen tremendous development and innovation taking place in the UK. The reason why vaping is so popular in the UK is conclusive. On one hand, vaping is 95% less harmful than smoking and vaping has the potential to help smokers quit according to an expert independent evidence review published by Public Health England (PHE) on the GOV.UK. On the other hand, there is a relatively full law on regulating and restricting the selling and use of vape products, including restrictions on manufacturers, sellers, and consumers. Today, we are going to talk about the restrictions on specific consumers - underages.

Underage Vaping in the UK

As we know, if you want to vape or smoke in the UK, you have to be at the legal age of 18, but things do not go as we think they should, ASH (Action on Smoking and Health) have been monitoring underage use of both cigarettes and e-cigarettes since 2013 in the Great Britain. It is an offence to sell e-cigarettes to children under 18 in the United Kingdom. Here are the brief results:

Use and awareness of e-cigarettes among underages

  • A majority of 11-17 year olds have never tried or are unaware of e-cigarettes (83.8%).
  • In 2022, 15.8% of 11-17 year olds had tried vaping, compared to 11.2% in 2021 and 13.9% in 2020.
  • In 2022, 7.0% of 11-17 year olds were current users, compared to 3.3% in 2021 and 4.1% in 2020.
  • Peopleunder 16 are least likely to try vaping. 10.4% of 11-15 year olds have tried vaping, compared to 29.1% of 16-17 year olds. Among 18 year olds 40.8% report having tried an e-cigarette.
  • Use among 11-17 year olds who have never smoked remains low and largely experimental, while 7.5% of never smokers have tried an e-cigarette in 2022 only 1.7% report at least monthly use.

Main source and type of vape products used among underages

  • In 2022 for the first time the most frequently used vape product was a disposable vape (52.0% compared to7.7% in 2021), and themost popular brands are Elf Bar and Geek Bar.
  • The main source for e-cigarettes is local vape 46.5% of underages get their e-cigarettes from vape shops.

In summary, the use of vape products has increased in 2022 so far compared to 2021. And there is an evident increase in the use of disposable vapes among underages which can be attributed to the simplicity, convenience, and low cost of the disposable vape. However, the influence of e-cigarettes is growing and it seems that vape products are more accessible for underages in the UK.

Why underages are not allowed to use vape products?

The medical evidence is clear, nicotine is a highly addictive chemical substance. Nicotine has been proven to have damaging effects on both underages and adults and this is one of the fundamental reasons for it being a prohibited product for underages.

Vaping laws about protecting underages in the UK you should know

According to the UKVIA, there is something you need to know if you are a vaper or a vape product supplier:

  • In England,it is illegal to sell vape products such as e-liquids or devices to anyone under the age of 18. There is an exception for nicotine products that are licensed as medicines or devices.
  • An adult who buys vapeproducts for someone under 18 commits an offence. This is called ‘proxy purchasing’ and it is the buyer who commits an offence under such

What can we do to reduce underage vaping?


Firstly, it is important for vape sellers to ask consumers if there are already of legal age to vaping, and there are some useful tips to help you when you are dealing with customers that you are not sure if they are of legal age:

  • When asking for proof of age, it is useful to explain that it isn’t personalbut it is the law. Staff members should make it clear to the customer that it is not your decision to ask them for proof of age but it is the company policy and a legal duty.
  • When you see a group of minors wandering near your vape shop and attempting to buy some vapes, you can tell them that you’ve noticed them. This often can perish their ideas of buying vapes.
  • Always stay calm, polite, and professional. Staff should explain to customers the valid ID is for future purchases.

What’s more, we can also raise awareness for minors of the damage that nicotine could do to our bodies. Nevertheless, this must be a long and hard road, we must work together with families, schools, and society so that we can finally deliver a good answer.

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