The Minimum Vaping Age in Colorado
The minimum age to legally purchase any tobacco product, including vapes, e-cigarettes, and e-liquids, in Colorado is 21 years old.
Key facts on Colorado’s vaping age law:
- The minimum age to both purchase and possess any vaping device or nicotine product is 21.
- The limit was raised from age 18 to 21 in 2019 to align with pending FDA regulations.
- The 21+ age law applies to all nicotine vaping devices and tobacco products, whether flavored or unflavored.
- There are no exceptions based on parental consent, medical prescription, or accompanied by an adult guardian.
So to summarize – you must be at least 21 years old to legally buy or use any kind of vape, e-cigarette, or tobacco product in Colorado.
Background on the Minimum Vaping Age Increase
In March 2019, Colorado passed Senate Bill 19-224 raising the legal tobacco and nicotine sales age from 18 to 21.
Reasons for increasing the vaping age include:
- Raising the age to 21 matched pending federal FDA tobacco regulations.
- Data showed 95% of adult smokers begin before age 21 – so delaying access aims to reduce total smoking rates long-term.
- Lowering youth access helps curb the vaping epidemic and addiction risks for adolescents.
- Age 21 aligns with the alcohol purchase age – allowing for unified enforcement.
- Studies found age 21 laws significantly reduce youth smoking and vaping initiation.
The age increase to 21 took full effect in Colorado by July 2021. Several other states also raised tobacco and vaping purchase ages to 21 during this time period.
Purchasing Vapes Under 21 in Colorado
Given the minimum age law of 21, it is illegal for those under 21 to:
- Purchase any vape products themselves at vape shops, convenience stores, or other retail outlets.
- Purchase tobacco or vaping accessories like e-liquids, pods, or mods.
- Order vape products online for delivery. Websites must age verify upon sale.
- Possess or use any nicotine vaping devices or tobacco products like cigarettes.
- Attempt to purchase through a third party like an older friend or stranger.
There are no legal channels for those under 21 to procure vapes in Colorado. Purchasing, possessing, or using nicotine vapes under 21 violates state laws.
Penalties for Underage Vape Purchases
Colorado penalizes both underage users and retailers who violate the 21+ vaping law:
- Minors caught with vapes may face fines up to $200 and be required to complete a tobacco education program.
- Retailers who sell to users under 21 face fines up to $15,000 and can have their tobacco license suspended or revoked.
- It is also illegal for any person to provide or sell vapes to a minor, even through a straw purchase. Adults furnishing vapes to those under 21 can also face large fines.
Harsh penalties aim to deter illegal sales and access. But surveys show many under 21 vapers still obtain devices through social sources like older friends.
Enforcement of Colorado’s Vaping Age Laws
State and local authorities employ several tactics to enforce age 21 restrictions:
- Tobacco retailers are required to check IDs for anyone appearing under 30 years old. Decoy sting operations check for compliance.
- Schools have confiscation and education policies for students caught with vape products. Police are also involved in enforcement.
- Juvenile charges like possession of a controlled substance can be applied to minor’s violations regarding nicotine vapes.
- Public education campaigns aim to increase awareness of 21+ vaping laws through point-of-sale signs and community partnerships.
Impact on Vape Shops and Retailers
Requiring age 21 for vape purchases has impacted vape shops and convenience stores:
- Employees face consequences for illegal sales so more rigorously check IDs.
- Retailers face profit losses from reduced 18-20 year old customers. Most vape shop revenue comes from adult consumers above 21.
- Some stores implemented restrictions like not allowing minors inside shops or loitering near entrances.
- Online sales require extensive age verification procedures to remain compliant with 21+ laws.
- FDA national 21+ laws reduced access through 3rd party vendors like Amazon or eBay.
Public Health Benefits of 21+ Vaping Laws
Public health officials strongly support Colorado’s Tobacco 21 law for vaping:
- Early data indicates declining vaping rates among high school students following age limit increases.
- Studies project around 25% fewer people will become regular adult tobacco users over time – given delayed initial access.
- Limiting teen vaping helps avoid exposing developing brains to highly addictive nicotine.
- Preventing a new generation from nicotine addiction via vapes remains a key motivation behind age 21 laws.
Minimum Age FAQ
Q1: Can an 18 year old possess a vape device in Colorado?
No, 18 year olds cannot legally possess or use any tobacco/nicotine products like vapes in Colorado. The minimum age is 21.
Q2: Can police arrest minors for vaping underage in Colorado?
Yes, they can issue citations for fines and require tobacco education program completion. Repeat offenses can result in increasing penalties.
Q3: Can a 20 year old buy a tobacco pipe or rolling papers in Colorado?
No, any tobacco product including accessories cannot be purchased under 21 in Colorado.
Q4: Can a parent buy a vape for their 19 year old child?
No, it remains illegal for anyone to furnish a vape product to anyone under age 21 in Colorado. Parents risk fines up to $15,000 if caught allowing underage vaping.
Q5: Can retailers sell non-nicotine vapes to those under 21?
No, Colorado’s age law covers all vaping devices regardless of nicotine content, as enforcement cannot determine nicotine presence reliably at point of sale.
In summary, Colorado maintains strict 21+ age limits for purchasing any tobacco and vaping products. While underage access remains an issue, public health data indicates Tobacco 21 laws successfully reduce youth smoking and vaping initiation when properly enforced.