Senate Bill Seeks to Prevent Online E-Cigarette Sales to Minors

The NACS-supported legislation follows successful advocacy efforts by convenience retailers.

May 02, 2019

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – This week, U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) introduced S. 1253, the Preventing Online Sales of E-Cigarettes to Children Act, a bipartisan bill that seeks to prevent online sales of electronic cigarettes to minors by applying the same measures already in place for cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products.

“The convenience retail industry has always advocated for a level playing field regarding the lawful sale of tobacco products,” said Anna Ready, NACS director of government relations. “A decade ago, our industry championed the Prevent all Cigarette Trafficking Act (PACT Act) to address the tax evasion that transpired among online sellers of tobacco products, as well as ensure age-verification at the time of purchase and delivery. NACS supports updating the 2010 law to include electronic cigarettes, which will reduce underage sales online and provide a fair regulatory structure for businesses.”

During NACS Day on the Hill in March, convenience retailers and industry stakeholders met with members of Congress and advocated for updating the PACT Act to include electronic cigarettes. More than 145 convenience retail industry leaders, representing more than 10,800 c-stores, participated in Day on the Hill, where 220 meetings representing 41 states took place with members of Congress and staff. During the meetings, retailers communicated a unifying message that age-restricted products should be sold on a level playing field. When an e-cigarette product is purchased in a convenience store, the age is verified at point-of sale-before the adult customer receives the product. Online retailers should also ensure age is verified by an in-person ID check when an e-cigarette product is delivered.

“We appreciate the efforts by convenience retailers at our NACS Day on the Hill event to share the industry’s story with members of Congress, resulting in legislation that will prevent illegal access to e-cigarettes by minors,” Ready said.

According to a study published by the American Journal of Health Promotion, the most common retail source of e-cigarettes to minors is the internet, with more than 32% of minors who bought e-cigarettes at retail reported to have acquired the products online.

The Senate legislation introduced this week would require online sellers of e-cigarettes to:

  • Require online sellers to have delivery people verify the ID of an adult at the time of delivery.
  • Comply with all state and local tobacco tax requirements. 

NACS anticipates a companion measure to the Senate legislation will be introduced in the House soon. Stay tuned for information from NACS about asking members of Congress to support the Preventing Online Sales of E-Cigarettes to Children Act.

For more about NACS Day on the Hill, see “NACS Members Storm the Hill” in the April 2019 issue of NACS Magazine.