Close Loophole that lets Teens buy E-Cigarettes Online

Close Loophole that lets Teens buy E-Cigarettes Online

November 7, 2019

The teen vaping epidemic has made national headlines across the country and in Florida because of the rapid increase in minors using vaping products. Recently, the House passed legislation that would help reverse the rise in teen smoking. Now we are counting on Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott, who are known for supporting common sense legislation, to support this bipartisan bill in the Senate, which is being championed by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Senator John Cornyn (R-TX).

Last week, without opposition, the House passed the Preventing Online Sales of E-Cigarettes to Children Act. This House bill was introduced by Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Congressman Kelly Armstrong (R-ND), and had an equal number of Republican and Democratic co-sponsors, 16 of each, from states all across the country. This bill would mandate an ID check at the point of delivery for any e-cigarettes that were ordered online.

The reason this bill had widespread and bipartisan support is because it is a simple fix that would have an outsized impact on helping prevent teens from being able to buy e-cigarette products. Currently, nearly one-third of teens who reported buying their own e-cigarettes said they bought them online, more than any other type of retail store.

Not only would this bill be a nice first step in limiting minors access to vaping products, it would also address how online retailers are treated differently than traditional retailers when it comes to selling e-cigarette and vape products.

As it stands, we require traditional retailers like convenience and grocery stores to check ID before handing over any tobacco products, including e-cigarettes. Unfortunately, there is no such federal requirement for delivering e-cigarettes that were purchased from an online retailer.

This oversight is due, in part, because the law that concerns the delivery of tobacco products was passed in 2009. This legislation, called the Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking Act of 2009 specifically targeted the delivery of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products, but makes no mention of e-cigarettes and vaping devices due to their lack of popularity at the time.

Unfortunately, Congress has not acted since to fix this issue, which has obviously contributed to the teen vaping epidemic.

The Preventing Online Sales of E-Cigarettes to Children Act would not only make it more difficult for teens to buy vaping products, it would also create parity between online and traditional retailers, who have a much better record of checking IDs and not selling e-cigarette products to minors. Given their pragmatic records, I am confident Senators Rick Scott and Marco Rubio will add their names to the list of co-sponsors for the Senate version of this legislation, alongside 22 of their colleagues in the Senate, and support this bill.

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