Last Thursday, the United States Senate passed S.1253, the Preventing Online Sales of E-Cigarettes to Children Act, which has been pitched to the public as a way of requiring online e-cigarette retailers to verify ages of customers, including requiring a signature and ID upon delivery.
As is often the case, the words of politicians often conflict with the language in the bills they support. This legislation would also ban the USPS from shipping vaping products — forcing consumers and businesses to use more expensive and less reliable options offered by FedEx and UPS — and require even the smallest of vaping product companies to comply with a byzantine set of rules laws and rules set by both the federal and state governments.
The United States is in the middle of an epidemic that has effectively transformed the way that products are delivered. COVID-19 has directed many companies to offer contactless delivery and this Act would require drivers and the public to interact – undoubtedly ignoring social distancing practice. Moreover, this Act comes at a time when more and more American adults are relying on mail delivery for household goods and will simply add more burden to an already-burdened mail system.
Although seeking to reduce youth e-cigarette use is laudable, this Act ignores data that indicate most youth utilize “social sources” to obtain tobacco products, including legal-age friends and family. Indeed, a study by the United States Food and Drug Administration found 89 percent of 15 to 17 years, relied on giving money to someone else to purchase e-cigarettes. These social sources mentioned included “older siblings, friends, parents and even strangers.”
Simply, S.1253 would burden the US mailing system and is unlikely to reduce youth usage. It would also unnecessarily put delivery drivers and the public at a greater risk of COVID-19.
The Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association’s Call to Action for S.1253 remains open for vapers and harm reduction advocates to take action.