Banning the USPS from shipping vaping products will make it harder for smokers to quit & harm small businesses
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Earlier today, the text of a 5,500+ page package of COVID-19 stimulus, government funding, and tax extenders was released by committees in the U.S. Congress. This comes just hours before members are expected to vote for the package to become law.
Buried in this massive bill is a provision (see page 5,136) that will harm public health and small businesses by, among other things, banning the United States Postal Service (USPS) from shipping vaping products to adult consumers. And due to sloppy drafting, the effects of the law will be felt beyond the world of nicotine.
The new law redefines the word “cigarette” under the Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking Act (PACT Act), which is part of the federal Jenkins Act, to include “electronic nicotine delivery systems.” Despite the inclusion of the word “nicotine,” the definition used in the bill is so broad that it appears to capture vaping liquids containing CBD and standalone devices intended for vaping THC or other substances.
By including vaping products within the PACT Act, manufacturers and retailers will be banned from shipping vaping products to adult consumers using the USPS within the next 120 days. All orders of vaping products will be required to ship using an alternate, considerably more expensive service that verifies the recipient of a package is at least 21 years old. Furthermore, starting 90 days after enactment, all Internet and mail-order retailers will be required to file voluminous monthly reports with State, Native tribes, and local governments disclosing the identity, address, and product orders of all customer orders to their jurisdiction, as well as remit any excise taxes owed.
While pitched to the public as a way of protecting youth -- the title of the original Congress bill containing this text was the Preventing Online Sales of E-Cigarettes to Children Act -- it is already illegal under federal law to ship vaping products to minors. The Food and Drug Administration has repeatedly enforced this law against bad actors in the industry. Additionally, while many retailers have been taking advantage of the USPS’ ID at delivery service for years, this will no longer be permitted.
Gregory Conley, president of the American Vaping Association, commented on the bill’s likely passage:
“While there is no shortage of talk in Congress about the importance of small businesses and social distancing, the decision to shove this ban in the middle of a pandemic relief package reveals how hollow that rhetoric is. Many Americans at risk of COVID-19 complications have been staying home and ordering their supplies online, but Congress just decided they should either pay much more for shipping or go to a retail store that may not stock the product they use to stay off deadly cigarettes.”
“If the increase in shipping costs wasn’t enough, the bill also imposes huge paperwork burdens on small retailers, and backs it up with threats of imprisonment for even innocent mistakes. This is not a law designed to regulate the mail-order sale of vaping products to adults; it’s an attempt to eliminate it.
“The sponsors of this legislation repeatedly refused to consider common sense amendments that would have protected youth, while also not needlessly shutting down small businesses. Thanks to their intransigence, the language included in the omnibus is so sloppily drafted that it will also ban the USPS from shipping CBD liquids intended to be vaporized, as well as devices intended for use with THC or other non-nicotine substances.”
"There are still 36 million American adults smoking combustible cigarettes and over 400,000 will die from smoking-related illnesses this year alone. The American people should start questioning why their government is so intent on making it harder for adults to quit smoking."