New Law Makes it Illegal to Ship Vaping Products in the US

In about a month from now, it will be essentially illegal to ship any vaping products in the mail. This includes not just the United States Postal Service but also UPS and FedEx. This will of course make it exceedingly difficult to attain any vaping products via online purchases, not to mention it will hurt countless legal cannabis businesses.

It’s all due to a bipartisan bill which was passed in December 2020, called the “Preventing Online Sales of E-Cigarettes to Children Act”. Its purpose is to make it harder for kids to access tobacco products by inhibiting their ability to buy them online underage. This sounds like a great idea in theory — I mean, I for one started smoking at a very young age and can’t say I’d recommend it. But as with so many laws, there ends up being side effects that aren’t such a great idea.

The bill is simple enough:

(as taken directly from the initiating senator’s website)

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.

But a key aspect of the bill is how it defines some terms:

(as taken directly from the US Congress website, bold text added for emphasis)

“the term ‘electronic nicotine delivery system’ means any electronic device that, through an aerosolized solution, delivers nicotine, flavor, or any other substance to the user inhaling from the device;

includes–

  • (i) an e-cigarette;

  • (ii) an e-hookah;

  • (iii) an e-cigar;

  • (iv) a vape pen;

  • (v) an advanced refillable personal vaporizer;

  • (vi) an electronic pipe; and

  • (vii) any component, liquid, part, or accessory of a device described [above], without regard to whether the component, liquid, part, or accessory is sold separately from the device; and does not include a product that is approved by the Food and Drug Administration for–

    • (I) sale as a tobacco cessation product; or

    • (II) any other therapeutic purpose;

It all goes down 120 days after the bill was passed — which was in December 2020. Okay, wait, if my calculations are correct that puts it right on April 19th, 2021. Now that is just cruel.

It’s not wrong — just inconvenient

Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas), one of the two driving forces behind the bill, has sited the fact that for a person to purchase cigarettes in person, they need to show an ID to prove their age, yet with online sales they can place an order without proving their age and also receive the package without proving their age. As a seemingly sensible and simple fix, he says,

“This legislation would put in place the same safeguards for e-cigarettes as traditional cigarettes purchased online. It is not to change the law; it is just to make sure we enforce the existing law. It would require online retailers to verify the age of the customer and release deliveries only to adults with an ID.”

Okay, sure. That actually does make sense. But the unfortunate side effect of this is that it makes things difficult for both the online retailers and for the delivery services. And UPS for instance, isn’t willing to jump through the new hoops. A representative from UPS said, “Effective April 5, 2021, UPS will not transport vaping products to, from or within the United States due to the increased complexity to ship those products.”

Increased complexity is right. And with all the other drama stirred up recently around vaping products, I’m not surprised that these large corporations are just dropping vaping products altogether rather than dealing with the new rules.

Vague language at its finest

The other senator behind this bill, Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) has used the COVID-19 pandemic to fuel her bill. “We’re facing a youth vaping crisis that’s being exacerbated by the pandemic. Young people who use e-cigarettes are now five times more likely to be diagnosed with COVID-19.”

But notice how vague her language is there. Is she talking about tobacco products or cannabis? E-cigarettes or other electronic devices?

Part of what the bill involves is requiring the National Institutes of Health to perform a widespread study looking for correlations between vaping use and tobacco use among people under age 24, as well as other correlations like drunk driving. So it seems to me that they 1) don’t have any solid incriminating evidence against non-tobacco vaping, and 2) are going to try to piece together some. But in the meanwhile they’ll just ban the shipping of all vaping products just in case.

Don’t like the new law? Tell USPS.

The United States Postal Service is currently accepting feedback from the public on this new situation. You can visit the vape ban page on casaa.org to add your name to the campaign and include a message which will be sent to USPS. The CASAA website says, “On February 19, 2021, the USPS published in the Federal Register a proposed rule, which is necessary to carry out the new law. The public is invited to review and comment on the rule until March 22, 2021.” While there’s no guarantee it will change things in the next few weeks, it can definitely make an impact which might invite revisions to the rule later on.

Will it be illegal to buy cannabis products online?

So where does that leave things? Well, not all hope is lost. While the new bill makes things complicated and annoying for cannabis companies and delivery services, there are still some work-arounds for those willing to deal with it.

Online retailers can still sell their products legally to people who are old enough to purchase them legally. It’s just a matter of verifying the purchaser’s age, which of course means implementing new features as part of their checkout system which is probably much easier said than done.

While the big delivery companies are out, there are still smaller, independent delivery services which might be willing to tolerate the increased rules of labeling the package and requiring proof of age upon delivery. This really doesn’t seem like much of an added hassle, so maybe in time even the big guys will get back on board with vaping products.

We’ll see what comes of the NIH study. Will they find any impactful correlations between tobacco use and non-tobacco vaping among young people? Only time will tell. But one thing seems sure, and that’s that despite the leaps and bounds the cannabis industry has made in recent years with legalization and increased social acceptance, there is an equal force against cannabis, that will likely continue to put up roadblocks to progress.

 

We have reached out to a few online vaping products retailers and will update this article upon hearing from them.

7 Comments

  1. Paco López on March 5, 2021 at 4:49 pm

    Hi
    Just to be clear. It will be allow to send a volcano for example as long as you send your ID
    proving over 21? Or is prohibited to send vapor products not matter what?

    • Vapormaster on March 8, 2021 at 11:29 am

      We would have to be able to prove our age twice: when we purchase the product, and again when it’s delivered to us. The first step requires the website we’re buying from to have some way to verify our age, but in theory a child could just use their parent’s ID so it would have to be more than just showing an ID. The second step requires the delivery service to be willing to have someone verify our age, maybe by coming to our door and manually checking our ID, but so far the big delivery companies aren’t willing to do that.

  2. Doug on March 4, 2021 at 2:05 am

    Volcano vaporizers were invented in Germany by a doctor for his patient’s THERAPEUTIC needs as an inhaler for natural herbal remedies, not necessarily for controlled substances. This is proven, which should make this product immune from the new laws.

    • Matt on March 4, 2021 at 12:43 pm

      Sadly its not up to S&B. the USPS and US Congress have made this Definition.. WE all need to contact our Local And State Rep and Explain the difference between a Oil Based Vape Pen and a Dry Herb Vaporizing device like the Volcano.

      Use the links above please and make your voice heard.!

  3. Matt on March 3, 2021 at 5:51 pm

    We have some hope here..
    Most S&B Products do not fall under this description.. They seem to be after Aerosol..
    Dry Herb is Not this and does not use any Liquid.

    “Vaping Product” means any Tobacco Product intended for human consumption by inhalation that relies on vaporization or aerosolization, including but not limited to e-liquid, electronic cigarettes, electronic cigars, electronic cigarillos, electronic pipes, electronic vaping product delivery pens, hookah pens, and any other similar devices that rely on vaporization or aerosolization.

    https://www.ups.com/us/en/help-center/packaging-and-supplies/special-care-shipments/tobacco.page

    Also the comment period with USPS is open now.. so go make your voice heard..

    https://casaa.org/call-to-action/usps-vape-mail-ban-comment/

    There is a critical flaw in the new rule that must be highlighted repeatedly: Congress does not understand the products or the stakeholders affected by this regulation (which is one reason why it granted the authority to regulate tobacco and nicotine to the FDA). This being the case, new laws restricting access to safer nicotine and tobacco products are likely to fall short of their stated goals. In a worst case scenario (like the one we’re living in now), the new regulations inflict immediate injury and lasting harm.

    https://casaa.org/call-to-action/usps-vape-mail-ban-comment/

    The USPS is genuinely seeking feedback and suggestions regarding unforeseen and unavoidable consequences that may result from the new rule. There are questions of accuracy involving language and weights-and-measures, as well as how USPS will determine which packages to reject. Although answers to these questions may not change the ban on shipments of vapor products to consumers, it is vital that we are engaged.

    Sharing your experience with switching to vaping or other smoke-free products provides context for officials that isn’t shown in “the data” or offered by supporters of harsh regulations. Your comments add weight to the evidence showing how successful safer alternatives to smoking can be – given the right balance of control and access. Just as this is true for your comment to the USPS, it applies to all opportunities for sharing your experience to a permanent, official record.

    https://casaa.org/call-to-action/usps-vape-mail-ban-comment/

    • Vapormaster on March 4, 2021 at 12:19 pm

      Hey Matt, thanks so much for your comment and the included links. I’ll add the CASAA link to the article.

      • Matt on March 4, 2021 at 12:33 pm

        please do. We all need to contact our Rep and the USPS while commenting is open.

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