by Madeline Grant, NCIA’s Government Relations Manager
The most recent omnibus that passed into law in December 2020 included a small provision related to vaping devices that could potentially have big implications.
The bill included language related to the Preventing Online Sales of E-Cigarettes to Children Act (the Act). The intent of the Act was to prevent underage smoking by applying the same safeguards already in place for cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products to the online sales of e-cigarettes — a mission we all wholeheartedly support. The Act also amends the Jenkins Act, which generally prohibits mailing of cigarettes to consumers through the United States Postal Service (USPS), to include Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS) and to subject them to the same mailability restrictions.
The Act defined ENDS as any electronic device that, through an aerosolized solution, delivers nicotine, flavor, or any other substance to the user inhaling from the device. The provisions also extend to any component, liquid, part, or accessory of an ENDS, regardless of whether sold separately from the device. Unfortunately, this definition is overly broad, and despite the name, an item can be interpreted to qualify as an ENDS without regard to whether it contains or is intended to be used to deliver nicotine — this means devices used for the vaporization of cannabis or hemp, essential oils, and other aromatics, or even water vaporizers used for babies.
What does this actually do?
- Prohibits the mailing of non-nicotine devices to consumers through the USPS
- Triggers burdensome and illogical compliance requirements for mailing through common carriers (i.e. requires the labeling of packages as containing nicotine, payment of state tobacco taxes, reporting of consumer data, and more, even if non-tobacco products)
- Eliminates USPS exception for B2B mailings for non-nicotine devices, as the form requires tobacco product license information which non-nicotine businesses do not hold
- As a result of this Act and subsequent confusion, many common carriers have changed their policies to ban shipments of any vaporization devices and components, nicotine or otherwise
How can you help?
Although the time to submit public comments has passed, you can still make a call to your congressional representative and senators to express your concerns. To find your elected officials you can visit congress.gov, type in your zip code, and this will bring you to your representative photo and information. From there call the Washington, D.C. office, state your name and address, to confirm you are a constituent and discuss the talking points below. Every constituent call can make a difference as staffers log all comments and concerns for the office.
When relaying your concerns, note that this broad interpretation of ENDS was not the intent of the legislation. It creates conflicts with existing regulations (e.g. FDA deeming rules, USPS mailability of hemp products, and state tax guidelines, etc.) and delivers significant unintended consequences.
Ultimately, it means consumers and patients may not be able to receive the state-legal, non-tobacco products they want and could significantly increase costs — all at a time when USPS is already struggling to bring stability to the agency.
Along with a fantastic informal coalition that formed to address this issue, NCIA has submitted comments that ask USPS to clarify that their interpretation of ENDS to not include these additional product categories that were not the intent of the original statute. As a united front, we will continue to educate congressional offices. We will continue to monitor any movement of this legislation and keep our members informed. Please reach out to your elected officials. Of course, if you have any questions please feel free to reach out to Madeline@TheCannabisIndustry.org.