House Targets Online E-Cig Purchases

Move comes as Juul suspends all flavor sales, initiates layoffs, report says
Photograph: Shutterstock

WASHINGTON — Targeting online sales of vaping products, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bipartisan bill seeking to prevent minors from purchasing e-cigarettes online.

Passed Oct. 28, the bill updates a 2010 law regulating the online sales of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco by applying those rules to e-cigarettes, NACS officials said.

“If minors can’t buy e-cigarettes in a store, they shouldn’t be able to buy them online,” said Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-N.D.) during a speech on the House floor.

The move comes at the same time The Wall Street Journal reported that San Francisco-based Juul Labs will cut 500 jobs, the move stemming in part from its recent decision to suspend online sales of its flavored vaping pods. The workforce decision reverses the e-cigarette maker’s rapid staff growth in the past few months, as it prepares for its self-imposed ban. Flavors account for 80% of its U.S. sales, the Journal reported.

In Washington, the Preventing Online Sales of E-Cigarettes to Children Act would require online merchants to ensure the delivery carrier verifies the age of the recipient upon delivery and would require online merchants to collect and remit the appropriate state and local taxes.

“The convenience-store industry strongly supports this common-sense legislation that would close the internet loophole of minors acquiring e-cigarettes,” said Anna Blom, NACS' director of government relations. “According to a study published by the American Journal of Health Promotion, the most common retail source of e-cigarettes to minors is the internet, with more than 32% of minors who bought e-cigarettes at retail reported to have acquired the products online.”

With the House effort complete, the Senate can choose to consider that bill along with its own bipartisan version that members introduced this past spring, NACS officials said.

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