Buying Electronic Cigarettes: How Old is Old Enough?

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As part of the vaping community, we all may be very aware of the proposed local, state and federal regulations on electronic cigarettes. Throughout the past year, e-cig critics, health organizations, and anti-vaping advocates have all pushed for strict regulations on electronic cigarettes based on the belief that they should be categorized as tobacco products.

FDA and its role in regulating electronic cigarettes

In April 2014, the FDA announced its proposal to regulate electronic cigarettes on a federal level and in the same manner as tobacco products. Since it has taken the FDA Deeming Regulations much longer than expected to follow through the stages of the policymaking approval process, state and local governments have taken e-cig regulations into their own hands. Such regulations have included indoor and outdoor bans on e-cigs, as well as age restriction laws prohibiting sales to minors. These laws are literally changing on a daily basis, and e-cig companies have a moral imperative to abide by the age restriction laws currently set in place to maintain the integrity of the vaping industry. In this article, we provide an overview of the current and pending age restriction laws throughout the United States.

E-Cig Regulations: Age Restriction Laws Across the U.S.

Currently, all 50 U.S. states have passed age restriction laws for the purchase of electronic cigarettes and the age restrictions usually coincide with the age restrictions set in place for the purchase of cigarettes and other tobacco products. Most states have set the age restriction to 18 and up; however, there are a few states that set the requirement to 19 and up. Some states have even pushed for the age restriction for both tobacco cigarettes and e-cigs to be increased to 21, with legislation still pending in the District of Columbia and the entire state of Massachusetts. A few local and city governments have already implemented this restriction, including New York City and Suffolk County, New York, as well as the towns of Needham and Canton in Massachusetts. As of January of 2016, Hawaii will be the first state to fully implement the 21 and up age restriction on e-cigs. The majority of current age restrictions for the purchase of electronic cigarettes were passed and implemented in 2015; however, some date as far back as 2010 with New Jersey being the first state to pass an official age restriction on e-cigs. Below is a map of the current age restrictions by state.

U.S. State Map of Smoking and Vaping Age Restrictions in 2015

Age Verification in the New Age

Vape shops can easily avoid selling to minors by requesting identification at the time of purchase; however, age verification is more complicated for online companies. Even so, there are a number of age verification services online e-cig companies can use to avoid selling to minors.

White Cloud has been a pioneer in preventing e-cig sales to minors through our age verification system implemented in 2014, as soon as we received word of the FDA’s Proposed Deeming Regulations. Therefore, when customers purchase from White Cloud, we check the information provided against the LexisNexis database of public records. If a customer’s age cannot be confirmed, we ask for a state-issued identification card and/or the address of a residence previously legally associated with the customer’s name. Orders cannot proceed until the customer provides proof of age. This is based on an effort to abide by state restrictions, as well as to prepare for the upcoming Deeming Regulations by the FDA.

To all online e-cig companies and small vape shop owners: please be sure to abide by the individual state regulations for e-cigs to help protect the integrity of the vaping community so our industry can continue to thrive.