Congress Should Reject Additional Online Sales Restrictions for Adults Who Buy E-Cigarettes

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Posted by Paul Blair on Wednesday, November 13th, 2019, 6:23 PM PERMALINK

This week, the Senate will consider legislation sponsored by Senator Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) that would both prohibit the United States Postal Service from shipping electronic cigarettes and vapor products to adults and increase the cost of the products delivered by other companies. These bills will have a significant impact on millions of adults who rely on the availability of vapor products purchased online to quit smoking cigarettes. 

Currently, services like Veratad and Age Checker verify a consumer's age online with third party databases to ensure that they are consistent with the information the government has on age to purchase laws. Some of these services further require you to upload a photo ID already, making a new federally mandated point of delivery age verification both unnecessary and additionally costly. This legislation will result in adult consumers being forced to pay several dollars more each time they have e-cigarettes shipped to their homes, a needless government action that will result in fewer smokers transitioning to e-cigarettes, which are 95% less harmful than cigarettes. 

Teens who are not of the legal age to vape (those under the age of 18-21, depending on the state) are currently prohibited from purchasing nicotine vapor products online, a policy aggressively enforced by the Food and Drug Administration. The FDA both monitors and enforces against online businesses that do not check age at the time of purchase or when you access the sales portion of a website that sells e-cigarettes. There is not an online loophole that allows underage consumers to purchase vapor products online.

FDA data conclusively points to social sources like friends or family being the way that teens get access to e-cigarettes, not online sales. This bill does not address the stated concerns of proponents of the legislation. 

The Senate should reject this legislation because it will raise costs on adult consumers and may result in fewer people choosing to use reduced risk alternatives to cigarettes. 

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