Young People and Vaping

While vaping is good at helping adult smokers to quit smoking, it is not completely harmless. It is illegal for young people under 18 to be vaping and it is illegal for an adult to buy a vape for someone under 18.

Find out more about vaping

Reporting health harms from vaping harmful substances

What are vapes?

This image shows a vape kit that is safety regulated and is used by Quit Well Newham to help residents over 18 to stop smoking
This is a regulated vape kit used by Quit Well Newham stop smoking service to support residents over 18 to stop smoking, This kit is safety regulated and is safe to use.

A “vape” or electronic cigarette is a device that heats up a liquid to create a vapour you breathe in. 

Some vaping devices include pens, e-cigarettes (JUUL) and hookahs. 

Vaping is illegal for people under 18 and it is illegal for someone over 18 to buy a vape on behalf of someone under 18.

Vapes can be purchased from specialist vape shops, some pharmacies and retailers or online. 

Some vapes available on the market are currently unregulated and do not meet the safety guidelines of the Medicines Health Regulatory Agency.

The Medicines Health Regulatory Agency are responsible for regulating nicotine vaping products (e-cigarettes and refill containers) to make sure they are safe to use and to protect children from using these products. 

Vape kit
Above are examples of vapes that are not regulated and may be unsafe to use. These vapes attract young people as they are bright and colourful, without the proper safety messages.
Elf Bar disposable vapes in different colours
These disposable vapes are other examples of unregulated vapes that may be unsafe to use.











What are the risks of vaping for young people?

  • Nicotine can have negative effects on brain development in teenagers. This can cause problems with attention span, learning and make them prone to addiction. 
  • Long-term side effects of vaping are not known yet.
  • Illegal vapes often don’t have the correct labels to explain the dangers of vaping and instructions saying to keep them away from children. 
  • There is an increased risk of Child Sexual Exploitation where offenders will target young people by giving vapes in exchange for sexual activity.

There is a minimum age of sale for vaping products in the UK. It is illegal to sell nicotine vaping products to anyone under 18 or for any adult to purchase them on behalf of someone under 18. 

Keeping our young people safe from vaping exploitation

If you have any concerns around a young person at risk of vaping and sexual exploitation contact crime stoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.  

We are supporting Child Exploitation week from 18- 22 March 2024

Talking to young people about vaping

Young people need to understand the facts about vaping so they can make an informed choice. More information can be found on the FRANK website.

It is important parents, carers and anyone working with young people understand the facts about vaping and the law so they can debunk any myths and educate young people on the risks.

Here are the facts to tell young people about vaping:

  • Vaping helps adult smokers to quit smoking – it is not something for non-smokers to try especially children and young people
  • Vaping is less harmful than smoking, but that does not mean it is harmless.
  • In the UK, it is illegal to sell nicotine vaping products to under 18s or for adults to buy on their behalf. 
  • Nicotine may be riskier for young people than adults - evidence suggests it can have a negative impact on brain development and make them prone to addiction.
  • Some disposable vapes on sale are illegal and do not meet the UK quality and safety regulations.

Support to quit nicotine vaping

If you have been vaping for a long-time and are sure you will not go back to smoking, you should also work towards quitting vaping.

Tips to reduce nicotine vaping:

  1. Reduce frequency of vaping overtime
  2. Slowly reduce the strength of nicotine within the e-liquid

Do not rush this step. You should only reduce your vaping frequency and nicotine strength when you feel ready and know for sure you will not go back to smoking. 

Quit Well Newham can provide Newham residents 12 years old and above with free advice and support to quit. The service is run by Queen Mary University of London who have many years’ experience in delivering stop smoking services.

The service offers:  

  • Direct support and quit plan from a trained practitioner for up to 12 weeks.
  • Weekly Nicotine Replacement Therapy and Electronic Cigarettes.
  • Telephone and/or digital support with free access to the Smoke Free app
  • Face-to-face support available at a location near you.
  • Support is available in English, Bengali, Urdu, Gujrati and Lithuanian. BSL Support is also available.

Refer to this service

Support to quit vaping with dangerous substances (like THC)

If you vape with harmful substances (such as THC and spice) Newham Rise can help you to quit.

Fill out their referral form to get support.

Report retailers selling tobacco products to under 18s

If you find a retailer selling nicotine vapes or tobacco products to someone under 18, you can use our Trading Standards Business Card to anonymously report a retailer and share information with Newham’s Trading Standard Team. 

Visit the Trading Standards website to report consumer crime