- Not enactedThe President has not signed this bill
- The senate has not voted
- The house has not voted
Committee on the JudiciaryCrime, Terrorism and Homeland SecurityIntroducedJuly 24th, 2019
- house Committees
What is House Bill H.R. 3942?
Cost of House Bill H.R. 3942
In-Depth: Rep. Rosa DeLaura (D-CT) introduced this bill to require in-person age verification upon delivery of online purchases of e-cigarette and vapor products and thereby help prevent online sales of these products to children:
“We are in the midst of a youth vaping epidemic. Today, 1 in 5 high school students use e-cigarettes. We need to use every tool possible to prevent even more kids from starting to smoke. Yet a loophole under current law exempts online e-cigarette retailers from federal requirements to verify the age of their customers. Combined with industry’s deceptive and reckless marketing tactics, kids are easily able to obtain these products online. This is unacceptable, and it is putting our youngsters’ health at risk. That is why we need to pass the Preventing Online Sales of E-Cigarettes to Children Act to close this loophole and keep our children safe from the vaping epidemic.”
Original cosponsor Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-ND) adds:
“Minors can’t buy e-cigarettes in a store and they shouldn’t be able to buy them online either. This bill requires that an adult sign for a delivery of e-cigarettes, treating them the same as all other nicotine products.”
Senate sponsor Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) says:
“Buying e-cigarettes online is one of the easiest ways for children and teens to get their hands on these harmful products. 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.”
Lead Republican Senate cosponsor Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) adds:
“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. 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.”
The National Association of Convenience Store (NACS) supports this bill. Director of Government Relations Anna Ready, says NACS supports this bill as “commonsense legislation”:
“Before you receive the product in a convenience store, you have to show an ID. An adult has to prove that they’re the one purchasing, and the same should be true for when it’s delivered at his doorstep, before receiving the product… [T]ruthfully, it really ensures that responsible retailing is happening across all channels… It requires online sellers of e-cigarettes to ensure that the delivery carrier checks the ID at time of delivery. And then it also ensures that the appropriate taxes are collected and remitted, which is what the 2009 law did for cigarettes… NACS commends members of Congress who support legislation in the House and Senate to prevent minors from purchasing e-cigarettes online and from intercepting an at-home delivery.”
In fall 2018, one of NACS’ policy proposals shared with the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) was for Congress to update current law under the 2009 Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking (PACT) Act to require purchaser age verification upon delivery of e-cigarette products. Currently, the PACT Act only applies to online cigarette sales, as e-cigarettes didn’t exist a decade ago.
Some adults who turn to vaping to help quit smoking (e-cigarettes haven’t been reviewed or approved by the FDA for this purpose, but are nonetheless used by some for this purpose) have expressed displeasure about the outcry over e-cigarettes. They believe it’s unfounded or that it’s part of government interference in a legal activity, and have started using the hashtag #WeVapeWeVote to amplify their voice and express displease about government restrictions on e-cigarettes.
In October 16 testimony before the House Appropriations Committee, Dr. Sally Satel, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, urged committee members to preserve possible benefits for adult smokers in e-cigarette legislation:
“We must not allow the intense focus on teen use — warranted though it is — to divert almost all attention from the benefits of vaping for adult smokers who are dying at the rate of 480,000 per year from a terrible habit.”
This legislation passed the House Judiciary Committee by voice vote with the support of 32 bipartisan House cosponsors, including 16 Democrats and 16 Republicans. Its Senate companion, sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), has 22 bipartisan Senate cosponsors, including 12 Democrats and 10 Republicans.
A broad coalition of health organizations, physicians advocacy groups, and marketing associations supports this bill. It includes 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, Society of Independent Gasoline Marketers of America, National Association of Truck Stop Operators, Petroleum Marketers Association of America, and Convenience Distribution Association.
Of Note: An August 2018 study published in the American Journal of Health Promotion found the internet is the most common retail source for minors buying e-cigarettes. Over 32% of minors who bought e-cigarettes through retail sales reported that they acquired the products online.
- Sponsoring Rep. Rosa DeLaura (D-CT) Press Release
- Senate Sponsor Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) Press Release
- National Association of Convenience Store (NACS) Press Release (In Favor)
- CStore Decisions
- The New York Times
- House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health (Context)
Summary by Lorelei Yang
(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / llcsiren)