The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a huge toll on businesses. One industry that is not only surviving but actually growing is the cigarette industry. Whats the reason you ask? Partly due to government policies that made it harder to buy alternatives, like nicotine vapor products. What that did for the people that now vape is they have to go back to cigarettes. Furthermore, a measure slipped into the 2021 omnibus spending bill in Congress would reduce access to these life-saving options even after the pandemic ends.
Buried deep down within the omnibus spending bill, signed by outgoing President Trump at the end of December, the “Preventing Online Sales of E-Cigarettes to Children Act.” The Act, known as the “vape mail ban,” prohibits the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) from delivering nicotine or cannabis vaping products. Companies will have to rely on private carriers, like FedEx and UPS, for such shipments. Even for those who are serviced by private carriers, there is no guarantee these private carriers won’t also ban vaping products too.
On top of that, the new law also requires companies selling any type of vaping product— nicotine, non-nicotine, or cannabis—or vaping accessories to comply with the Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking (PACT) Act. The PACT Act, among other things, requires retailers to keep extensive records on customer purchases, submit those details to state officials who can collect taxes, and maintain records of potential violations for five years. It also requires retailers to collect applicable local and state excise taxes and affix to sold products any necessary “stamps” indicating excise taxes have been paid. Failure to perfectly comply with any of the PACT Act provisions could result in hefty fines and up to three years in prison.
The shipping restrictions and record-keeping demands will significantly raise the cost of doing business. Which obviously means that the prices will increase for vape products online. The increased price will be enough to make people steer away from vape. Specifically in rural areas, shipping may not be an option at any price, thanks to the prohibition on USPS. This may also force some people to give up vaping unless they have a vape retail store nearby that sells the products they want. They also have to have the ability to travel to the shop. On top of all that they need to have the want to make the trip regularly in the middle of a pandemic.
Reducing the number of adult vapers is exactly what the supporters of the vape mail ban want. In a nutshell they think that if they lower the amount of vapers, it will make people stop wanting nicotine. Which they are dead wrong. Just look at the pandemic for instance. The result of making nicotine vapor products less affordable and accessible for adults is that many simply return to cigarettes available at just about every corner store and gas station in America.
As its name implies, the supposed purpose of the Preventing Online Sales of E-cigarettes to Children Act is to stop people under the age of 21 from buying nicotine products. Now, as Jacob Sullum wrote in Reason, this measure is overkill in the extreme. If the goal truly was to stop those under 21 years of age from ordering e-cigarettes online, the only smart thing to do is offer id verification at delivery which most mail providers, including USPS, and one which much of the industry already uses.
Thats obviously one option for us instead of the ban itself. It seems like the best option. As of right now we don't know what will happen in the future for vaping but let's move forward with hope & aspirations for the future. What do you think about the vape mail ban? Is it really going to help the industry or should we just ask for signatures? Give us your thoughts in the comments!