Congress has passed legislation in the end-of-year omnibus spending packages to stop the online sales of e-cigarettes to minors. The legislation closes the online loophole for e-cigarettes that exists by requiring that the age of the recipient be verified in-person at delivery, a requirement that exists for other age-restricted products sold online but not for vapor.
The Preventing Online Sales of E-Cigarettes to Children Act was introduced in the U.S. Senate by Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and John Cornyn, R-Texas, and in the U.S. House by Reps. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., and Kelly Armstrong, R-N.D. The legislation requires online sellers of e-cigarettes to ensure that the delivery carrier verifies the age of the recipient upon delivery. It also requires online sellers to collect and remit the appropriate state and local taxes.
These measures are already in place for cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products purchased over the internet because of a bill that Congress passed in 2010, the Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking (PACT) Act, which NACS championed. However, e-cigarettes were not prevalent in the marketplace when the law was passed.
“The inclusion of these critical protections against the online sale of e-cigarettes to children will prevent countless illnesses and save lives,” said DeLauro. “This bill’s enactment will mark the end of a battle I have fought to close the loophole that allows online e-cigarette vendors to sell to customers without verifying their age at the point of delivery.”
The legislation was strongly supported by the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS), which represents more than 3,000 retailer and supplier members in the convenience and fuel retailing industry. The industry advocate has been asking for legislation to apply the same measures that are required of traditional retail outlets to online sales.
“NACS commends Congress for passing legislation to reduce youth access to e-cigarettes,” said Anna Ready Blom, NACS director of government relations. “As responsible retailers of legal products, convenience stores check 4.5 million IDs a day, which is twice as many as TSA. An in-person ID check — whether in store or upon delivery — is the only reliable way to ensure that the purchaser is of legal age.”
President Donald Trump plans to sign the bill into law.