Study Shows Teens Easily Purchase E-Cigarettes Over the Internet

Daniels Tredennick Pharmaceutical and Mass Torts 0 Comments

E-cigarettes are marketed in ways that appeal to teens, with flavors such as grape, cotton candy and bubble gum.  Ninety percent of adult smokers start before age 18.  The industry knows very well that in order to get their next generation of customers, they need to get them before they become adults. We're seeing the e-cig industry follow the tobacco industry's playbook.

E-cigarettes are marketed in ways that appeal to teens with “kid friendly” flavors such as grape, cotton candy and bubble gum. Ninety percent of adult smokers start before age 18. The industry knows very well that in order to get their next generation of customers, they need to get them before they become adults. We’re seeing the e-cigarette industry follow the tobacco industry’s playbook.

March 2015’s issue of JAMA Pediatrics published a study entitled “Electronic Cigarette Sales to Minors via the Internet.” From February to June 2014, 11 teenagers from North Carolina ranging from 14 to 17 years old made supervised e-cigarette purchase attempts from 98 Internet e-cigarette vendors.

The results are not a surprise to anyone who has used the internet to purchase something; in other words, it’s really easy.

Here are the results:

Teenagers were able to receive deliveries of e-cigarettes from 76.5% of purchase attempts, with no attempts by shipping companies to verify their ages at delivery and 95% of delivered orders simply left at the door.

According to company policy or federal regulation, all delivered packages came from shipping companies that do not ship cigarettes to consumers. Of the total orders, 18 failed for reasons unrelated to age verification. Only 5 of the remaining 80 youth purchase attempts were rejected owing to age verification, resulting in a youth buy rate of 93.7%.  None of the vendors complied with North Carolina’s e-cigarette age-verification law.

Conclusions:

(1)      Under-aged teenagers can easily able to purchase e-cigarettes from the Internet because of an absence of age-verification measures used by Internet e-cigarette vendors.

(2)      Federal law’s current loopholes concerning e-cigarettes allow this to happen. Obviously, Congress needs to take action and close the loopholes and require age-verification safeguards.

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