Monday, March 22, 2021, was an important day for the vape industry, marking the comment period deadline for revisions to the Preventing Online Sales of E-Cigarettes to Children Act, which were included in the 2021 omnibus spending bill recently passed by Congress. These changes prohibit Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS) from being sent to consumers through the United States Postal Service, influencing other common carriers such as Fed Ex, which announced it would ban the delivery of vaping products as of March 1, 2021.
The Act was recently revised to include a mailing ban on any vape device or product whether it contains nicotine or not. The impacts of this revamped bill on the vaping industry would be seismic, with groups like the California Cannabis Industry Association (CCIA) rallying consumers to make their voices heard before the comment period ended on the 22nd.
The USPS Rule on Hazardous, Restricted, and Perishable Mail in the pending bill includes products that are legal under many states’ laws, including California’s. In a template letter provided to those who wish to speak out against the revisions, CCIA states that while “the undersigned businesses and organizations unambiguously support restricting the sale of tobacco and nicotine to minors”, the proposed changes to USPS “could unintentionally regulate products that Congress had no original intent of capturing” to the extreme detriment of small businesses across the country. “This blanket limitation on mailing nicotine products,” the letter continues, “will completely cripple entire industries, including manufacturers of hemp-derived and botanical aromatic products and services.”
Should the federal government overrule these objections, opponents argue that the impacts would be felt beyond vaping, nicotine, and cannabis consumers. The beleaguered USPS, which is already floundering in the face of falling revenues, would suffer from the decline in mail volume as well as the cost of implementing more comprehensive restrictions. Users of botanical medicines like hemp-derived CBD who rely on vaping as a delivery system would struggle with access, and companies that have shifted to reliance on mail order models, particularly during the pandemic, would lose a primary source of revenue during an especially tenuous time.
Sellers who do no register or comply with these new regulations, which are set to take effect 90 days from passage, would be subject to severe penalties, including up to three years in prison. The revised bill will require companies to take on more administrative costs, as well as the aid of legal counsel in many cases, to ensure compliance and ascertain if they will even be able to function within the new regulations.
With the comment deadline now passed, it remains to be seen whether the vaping industry will manage to turn the tide on the latest version of the Preventing Online Sales of E-Cigarettes to Children Act. A law that, according to American Vaping Association President Gregory Conley, “is not a law designed to regulate the mail-order sale of vaping product to adults; it’s an attempt to eliminate it.”