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YouTube Policy Update: Age restriction of nicotine and THC content

YouTube will now age-restrict content promoting nicotine and THC. That includes smoking, vaping and other ways of delivering the active ingredients in tobacco and marijuana.

There is an exception for educational, documentary, scientific or artistic content.

Note that content policies apply to videos, video descriptions, comments, live streams and everywhere else on YouTube.

Policy: Harmful or dangerous content

YouTube doesn’t allow content that encourages dangerous or illegal activities that risk serious physical harm or death.
This policy includes content showing drug use, which is generally prohibited on YouTube. In addition to content showing hard drug use, YouTube also prohibits:
  • Minors using alcohol or drugs: Showing minors drinking alcohol, using vaporizers, e-cigarettes, tobacco or marijuana. 
  • Selling hard or soft drugs: Featuring drugs with the goal of selling them. 
Content that violates this policy may be removed and result in a Community Guidelines strike.  If you believe YouTube got it wrong, you can appeal.

Some content, such as the sale of hard drugs, may lead to termination of your channel.

If content doesn't violate that policy, but might not be suitable for all ages, the videos may be age-restricted, rather than removed. 

YouTube considers whether the content could lead to serious injury or death, whether the commentary discourages what is depicted, and whether it's educational, scientific or artistic. 

And, with the policy update, it also considers whether the content promotes a product that contains nicotine or a controlled substance.

Specific examples of content that would be age-restricted: 
  • A video promoting a cannabis dispensary
  • A video reviewing brands of nicotine e-liquid
If you believe your video has been incorrectly age-restricted, you can submit an appeal. 

Related Policy: Sale of illegal or regulated goods

Don’t post content on YouTube if it aims to sell directly any of the items listed below or links to sites that sell these items. Making the sale of these items possible by posting links, email, phone number or other means to contact a seller directly is not allowed.
Included in this policy: 
  • Nicotine, including vaping products
  • Controlled narcotics and other drugs
Content that violates the sale of regulated goods policy may result in a Community Guidelines strike or channel termination. 

What about monetization?

If your channel is in the YouTube Partner Program, it must follow the Community Guidelines, plus the advertiser-friendly content guidelines. Age-restricted content cannot be monetized.

Content that is considered not suitable for advertising includes: 
  • Content that promotes tobacco and tobacco-related products, including cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco, pipes, rolling paper, vape pens, herbal cigarettes, vaping and e-cigarettes. 
  • Sale, use, or abuse of recreational drugs, including marijuana, pipes, bongs, and cannabis coffee shops.
Such content may have limited or no ads. 

Note that those are just examples. Be sure to read the entire policy.

Learn more