Congress Passes Bill to Prevent Online Underage E-Cig Sales

NACS applauds act's passage
tobacco online
Photograph: Shutterstock

WASHINGTON —Congress passed the Preventing Online Sales of E-Cigarettes to Children Act to help close what NACS, Alexandria, Va., called a loophole in the current law.

The bill applies the same safeguards in place for combustible cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products to electronic cigarettes.

“The convenience store industry applauds Congress and the sponsors of the Preventing Online Sales of E-Cigarettes to Children Act for its passage,” said Anna Ready Blom, NACS director of government relations. “We believe an in-person ID check should occur before an age-restricted product is given to customers in a store or at their doorstep. This legislation will help ensure adults are the only purchasers of e-cigarettes over the internet, just as the convenience store industry takes multiple steps to ensure adults are the only purchasers of e-cigarettes in its stores.”

Sens. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) announced the bill’s passage on Dec. 21. It was included as part of the omnibus federal spending bill for fiscal year 2021 the senators said.

The bill requires online e-cigarette retailers to:

  • Verify the age of customers for all purchases.
  • Require an adult with ID to be present for delivery.
  • Label shipping packages to show they contain tobacco products.
  • Comply with all state and local tobacco tax requirements.

“We’re facing a youth vaping crisis that’s being exacerbated by the pandemic,” Feinstein said. “Young people who use e-cigarettes are now five times more likely to be diagnosed with COVID-19. We must stop this vaping crisis by preventing minors from buying vaping devices in the first place. Requiring age verification to buy e-cigarettes on the internet will go a long way toward lowering addiction rates among our youth.”

Groups including the National Association of Convenience Stores, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network and Society of Independent Gasoline Marketers of America (SIGMA) supported the bill, according to the senators.

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