April 30, 2019

Van Hollen, Senators Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Block Online E-Cigarette Sales to Minors

Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), and John Cornyn (R-Texas) today introduced the Preventing Online Sales of E-Cigarettes to Children Act. This bipartisan bill would prevent online sales of electronic cigarettes to minors by applying the same safeguards already in place for regular cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products.

“Since the introduction of e-cigarettes, we’ve seen their use among children and teens skyrocket. Bringing regulations for this highly addictive product in line with those that govern other tobacco products is long overdue. These common-sense safeguards – which already apply to cigarette sales – will help ensure that our children do not have unrestricted access to e-cigarettes. I urge Congress to pass this legislation immediately,” said Senator Van Hollen.

“Buying e-cigarettes online is one of the easiest ways for children and teens to get their hands on these harmful products,” said Senator Feinstein. “E-cigarette use by middle and high school students is rising at an alarming rate, posing serious risks to their brain development and leading to addiction at an early age. Our bill would help curb that trend by treating e-cigarettes the same as regular cigarettes, making it much harder for minors to purchase them online.”

“There was a dramatic increase in electronic cigarette use among high school students last year, with a substantial amount of teens purchasing this product online,” Senator Cornyn said. “We shouldn’t treat the potential online purchase of e-cigarettes by children any differently than we do other tobacco products. Our bill applies the same safeguards that exist for regular cigarettes and smokeless tobacco to online sales of e-cigarettes in an effort to stem the tide of underage smoking.”

            Specifically, the bill would require e-cigarette online 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.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 3 million high schools students used electronic cigarettes in 2018, a 78 percent increase over the previous year. Today, one in five U.S. high school students report using e-cigarettes, which have become the most commonly used tobacco product by youth in the United States.

A recent survey published in the American Journal of Health Promotion found that 32 percent of underage e-cigarette users reported purchasing products online, making online sales the single largest source of purchases for underage users.

In addition to Senators Feinstein, Cornyn and Van Hollen, the bill is cosponsored by Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.).

The bill is supported by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Lung Association, Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum, California Physicians Alliance, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Children's Health Fund, Go2Foundation for Lung Cancer, National Alliance for Hispanic Health, National Association of Convenience Stores and Society of Independent Gasoline Marketers of America.