Tobacco and Vapor 21 FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the goal of Tobacco and Vapor 21 (TV21) in Washington?

The goal of changing the law is to prevent the next generation from becoming addicted to nicotine and to save lives.

We know that most 15- to 17-year-olds get their cigarettes and vapor products from social sources – friends, older siblings, and coworkers who are 18-, 19-, or 20-years-old and can legally purchase. This law will close off that social network and access to nicotine, which is important because most people who smoke or vape start before age 18.

Is nicotine dangerous for young people?

Yes. Nicotine addiction isn't good for anyone – particularly youth, whose brains are still developing well into their mid-20's, and are particularly susceptible to nicotine addiction.

Isn't vaping better for you than smoking?

We don't know because there has not been enough time to assess long-term health effects since vapor products came on the market. We do, however, know there are short-term health effects of vaping, and that the aerosol emitted from vapor products contains harmful and potentially harmful chemicals, including nicotine.

But isn't vaping the best and healthiest way to quit smoking?

Vapor products may be safer than cigarettes for adults who smoke, but that does not mean they are safe. The FDA has not approved any vapor products as smoking cessation devices. And the CDC opened an investigation into lung illness among people who use vapor products in the summer of 2019.

Is there any proof that raising the age limit will have an effect on young people's habits?

Yes. A March 2015 report by the Institute of Medicine concluded that raising the tobacco sale age to 21 will likely prevent or delay initiation of tobacco use by adolescents and young adults including a projected:

  • 25% reduction in youth initiation.
  • 12% reduction in youth prevalence.
  • 11% reduction in smoking-attributable deaths.
How big is this problem already? How many kids in Washington smoke and vape?

Among Washington high school seniors, approximately:

  • 30% vape
  • 8% smoke cigarettes
  • 7% smoke cigars
  • 4% use smokeless tobacco
What is JUUL? What is vaping? What's the difference?

JUULing is vaping, and is a type of vapor product that has become increasingly popular among youth. Every “pod” contains approximately the same amount of nicotine as an entire pack of cigarettes. The e-liquids come in flavors such as mint, mango, cucumber, and crème. JUUL and other pod-based vapor products contain nicotine salts which make it smoother for the user and contain stronger doses. JUUL resembles a USB-drive and can be charged in a USB port, including a laptop.

Will I get in trouble for having tobacco or vapor products if I'm under 21?

Young adults 18-20 years of age will not face penalties for purchase, use, or possession of tobacco or vapor products.

Youth under 18 years of age may still face penalties for purchase, use, or possession of tobacco or vapor products. This may include a fine and/or participation in community service. This may also include participation in a smoking or vaping cessation program.

What resources are available for younger people quitting?

The Washington State Tobacco Quitline offers a free, anonymous program for teens ages 13-17 struggling with nicotine addiction; they can call 1-800-QUIT-NOW for help. The Department of Health also recently launched a new vaping cessation program for teens and young adults through the 2Morrow Health smartphone app. The app is available for free to all Washingtonians at

Truth Initiative also has a text message-based vaping cessation program, which can be accessed by texting “DITCHJUUL” to 887-09.

Parents, teachers, and schools looking for help addressing youth vaping can visit: