Federal Lawmakers Tighten Up Rules for Online Vapor Sales

Vapor products

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Online sales of electronic cigarettes and vapor products are now subject to the same ID requirements as in-person sales.

On Dec. 21, Congress passed the Preventing Online Sales of E-Cigarettes to Children Act that applies the same safeguards already in place for traditional cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products, and was included as part of the omnibus federal spending bill for fiscal year 2021.

The legislation was sponsored by Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas), and U.S. Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and Kelly Armstrong (R-N.D.).

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; and,
  • Comply with all state and local tobacco tax requirements.

"The use of electronic cigarettes among children has become more and more pervasive, with a third of underage users buying e-cigarettes online," Cornyn said. "I look forward to President Trump signing this into law so we can help stop this generation of young Americans from developing unhealthy addictions."

NACS, which was among the associations that supported the legislation, applauded the move to close a loophole in the current law that allows minors to access electronic cigarettes through the Internet.

"For the past two years, NACS and its members have advocated to regulate the online sales of e-cigarettes by applying the same measures that are required when traditional cigarettes are purchased online," said Anna Ready Blom, NACS director of government relations.

NACS previously supported legislative action to require online sellers of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products to ensure that the delivery person checks the ID of an adult upon delivery and require online sellers of cigarettes to collect and remit the appropriate taxes. That legislation, the Preventing All Cigarette Trafficking Act, became law in 2010.

"The convenience store industry applauds Congress and the sponsors of the Preventing Online Sales of E-Cigarettes to Children Act for its passage. 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," Blom said. "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."