Right before adjourning for recess, the United States Senate passed S.1253 - the Preventing Online Sales of E-Cigarettes to Children Act. Rather than preventing the online sale of e-cigarettes to children, the bill bans any vape-related shipments from the USPS. Additionally, all shipments of vape products would require a signature upon delivery.
S.1253 was passed in the U.S. Senate with unanimous consent, meaning that not one senator objected to the bill. It must still be passed by the House of Representatives and signed by the President before becoming law. If S.1253 becomes law, USPS has 120 days to stop shipping vapes.While S.1253 does not ban vape packages from private delivery services such as Fedex and UPS, it would still have a notable impact on all vapers.
USPS is often the cheapest shipping option that most online retailers offer. If USPS is no longer a shipping option for vape products, stores and customers will be forced to use more expensive shipping options. This bill would make being a vape store and being a vaper more expensive.
Even though S.1253 is called “Preventing Online Sales of E-Cigarettes to Children Act,” the bill does little to prevent online sales of electronic cigarettes to children. The people who are affected the most are vapers who live in remote areas and vapers who are affected by COVID-19 shutdowns.
Vapers who live in rural areas will be the most affected. Their shipping costs can increase nearly 15$-20$ - That’s an extra 120ml bottle in shipping costs!
However, they will not be the only people relying on online orders. Many people, including vapers, began to shop online more when local shops were forced to close. Many vape shops may not be open. Some may still not be allowed to open. Others, like many other businesses, may not have had the funds to stay open.
The biggest issue with the bill is that it is not useful legislation for the youth vaping epidemic the bill was intended to address. S.1253 does not make illegal vape purchases much more difficult for minors - it only makes all vaping more expensive. While this does discourage purchases by minors, it does so in a way that affects all vapers and targets vapers who live in rural areas.
Regardless of opinions, people are going out less and buying things online more. In more quarantined areas, brick and mortar shops may not even be an option - not even for curbside pickup. Others shops have closed down permanently due to lack of funds after multiple temporary shutdowns.
The bill does not address illegal sales on social media - a riskier market that definitely targets youth more than legitimate websites. If adults have easy access to affordable, reputable products, there will be no incentive to try buying e liquids off of questionable vendors.
The bottom line is, S.1253 would take money away from USPS, costs vapers more money and hassle, and rather than targeting youth vaping, it targets vapers who live in remote areas.
The House of Representatives is scheduled to begin in person voting on July 20, 2020. Until then, you can contact your representative and speak out against S1253.
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