E-Cigarettes, Vaping and Age Restrictions: What’s Really Going On?

The topic of electronic cigarettes and the ever-changing status of their legality—is certainly one of the most complicated situations the tobacco and smoking industry has faced in years.

That’s because, not unlike laws governing what can and can’t be done legally online, regulations surrounding e-cigarettes seem to change with every passing month. E-cigs sit at the center of a very lucrative, very controversial, and very young industry. Exactly the sort of trifecta, in order words, that tends to result in a flurry of regulatory action.

In both Michigan and Pennsylvania, for instance, it is currently legal for shop owners to sell e-cigarettes to, say, 6-year-olds. (We don’t recommend this.)

That could soon change, however, thanks to pending federal regulation introduced by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which hopes to ban e-cig sales to minors throughout the country. The FDA also wants to submit vaping products to safety reviews that could cost as much as $1 million per product, according to a recent report in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

And yet, “The rules issued by the FDA… do not address e-cigarette flavorings or marketing, which public health advocates say are especially aimed at youngsters,” the Inquirer says.

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In practical terms, what all this might mean for the future of the vaping industry is anyone’s guess. We wouldn’t be terribly surprised, though, to see further regulation introduced in the months and years ahead, both at the state and federal level.

What we can tell you about, however, is the current state of vaping laws in our local area:

Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania has virtually no state-wide laws regulating e-cigs. The Commonwealth doesn’t officially define them as tobacco products, and no state-wide restrictions exist for the sale of e-cigs or vaping accessories to kids. Various Pennsylvania municipalities have been busy making their own laws, however, such as Philadelphia, where the sale of e-cigarette products to minors has been prohibited since 2014. A ban on the use of e-cigs in Philadelphia’s public places—the same locations at which traditional cigarettes cannot be smoked—went into effect the same year.

New Jersey

In the Garden State, the use of e-cigarettes has been banned in most public places since 2010. E-cigs can’t be sold to anyone under the age of 19 in New Jersey. As for the liquid nicotine that e-cig smokers consume, if it’s sold in New Jersey it must be packaged in child-proof containers.   

Delaware

The sale of e-cigs to anyone under the age of 18 is prohibited in Delaware. And this is interesting: Vending machines offering e-cigarettes are prohibited in places accessible to persons under the age of 18 in Delaware, according to the Delaware Criminal Code. 11 Del. Code § 1119(c) (2015)

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You may have heard the news earlier this year that Hawaii became the first state in the nation to raise its legal smoking age from 18 to 21. We find it especially telling that this law pertains not only to traditional cigarettes and cigars, but also to e-cigarettes. According to Hawaii’s Director of Health, Virginia Pressler, the decision was partially a reaction to the vaping industry’s marketing of e-cigs to kids.    

For what it’s worth, we couldn’t agree more that the idea of selling e-cigarettes and vaping accessories to minors is a boneheaded move. We fully understand that some teens who try e-cigarettes will eventually move on to traditional smoking. Consider an oft-quoted report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which discovered that the percentage of middle school and high school students who reported having used e-cigarettes more than doubled from 2011 to 2012, and you’ll probably begin to understand why lawmakers are working so hard to keep kids away from vaping.  

But for adult smokers, the pattern is almost always reversed. That is, most adults only take up the vaping habit if they’re already smokers of traditional cigarettes. For many of them, the move to vaping is the first step in an effort to quit smoking for good. Indeed, we know many present and former e-cig smokers who were able to kick their deadly cigarette habit for good by making the move to vaping. We also know that research is finally beginning to show what so many of us have suspected all along: E-cigarettes deliver nicotine more safely than traditional cigarettes. It really is as simple as that.

If you’re interested in learning more about how vaping can be used as an alternative to improve public health and quality of life—regardless of whether or not you’re currently a smoker of traditional cigarettes—we invite you to visit us in person at our brick-and-mortar locations in Doylestown or Ambler, PA. Whether it’s expert vaping product advice or a seriously high-quality selection you’re looking for, we’ve got you covered.

The Local Vapor is a professional, friendly, and community-minded vapor shop where only the highest-quality liquids and e-cigs are on offer. Click here to meet our team, or here to visit our FAQ page. You can find our contact information and hours of operation here