Amid the economic devastation caused by COVID-19, one industry has actually thrived: the cigarette business. Some people are smoking to relieve the emotional and economic stress of lockdowns. But many others returned to smoking when the lower-risk options they relied on, such as nicotine vapor products, became too expensive or hard to find when compared with the combustible tobacco available at every gas station and corner store. Now, Congress wants to eliminate the ability for adults to receive e-cigarettes by mail, a measure that will reduce access to these life-saving options even after the lockdowns end.
Buried within the omnibus spending bill passed at the end of last year was the “Preventing Online Sales of E-Cigarettes to Children Act.” The Act, colloquially called the “vape mail ban,” prohibits the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) from delivering nicotine or cannabis vaping products. One might think that e-cigarette makers could simply switch to private carriers, such as FedEx or UPS. But these private carriers don’t deliver to all addresses, particularly in rural areas. Private carriers actually rely on USPS to make “last mile” deliveries. Even if private carriers did deliver everywhere in the U.S., most — including FedEx, UPS, and DHL — have yielded to the anti-vaping mob, voluntarily ending e-cigarette deliveries.
For any carrier hoping to fill the gap, the new law also imposes strict requirements on records-keeping, tax collection, and reporting. These requirements will significantly raise the cost of e-cigarette deliveries, which will be passed on to consumers. And that added expense, even if relatively small, will be enough to discourage many adults — particularly those in lower-income brackets — from continuing to use e-cigarettes. Supporters of the law seem to think that if they force adults to quit vaping, they will simply quit using nicotine altogether. They’re dead wrong.
Study after study has shown that policies that make e-cigarettes more expensive can reduce e-cigarette use. But they also increase smoking. The same is true for convenience: The harder it is for smokers to access e-cigarettes, the less willing and able they’ll be to choose e-cigarettes over combustible cigarettes, which are available almost everywhere.
Perhaps some think that more adult smoking is a small price to pay to protect children. More adults smoking is, in their mind, a small price to pay to stop the small percentage of minors willing to break the law to get their hands on e-cigarettes.
As the name of the law implies, the purpose of the Preventing Online Sales of E-cigarettes to Children Act is to stop those under 21 years old from illegally purchasing nicotine products online. But if that were really the goal, there are less-extreme approaches, such as requiring an ID check on delivery, a service offered by all major delivery services (and USPS) and that has proved sufficient for alcohol deliveries.
Read the full article at National Review.