Words say a lot. It’s especially true in the rule of law. When Congress approved the recent appropriations bill to keep the government running, lawmakers also passed the “Preventing Online Sales of E-Cigarettes to Children Act,” which prohibits the United States Post Office (USPS) from shipping vaping products.
While the legislation was geared towards nicotine vaping products, the law is so broadly defined that hemp businesses must also prepare to comply, according to Patricia Kovacevic, founder and president of PK Regulatory Strategy. The legislation takes effect in late March – 90 days after its published in the Federal Register. The USPS then has 120 days to issue its rules.
Speaking during a Smoke-Free Alternatives Trade Association (SFATA) webinar, Kovacevic said that the legislation states that an electronic nicotine delivery system (ENDS) is defined as any device that “delivers nicotine, flavor, or any other substance to the user inhaling from the device.”
“It’s very broadly defined. It really is any other substance. So even if you inhale, I’m being ridiculous, the air [if inhaled from] a device is still covered,” she said. “So, unfortunately, it’s very broad. That’s actually what makes it worrisome. But that also could be its flaw. [The definition being too inclusive] could be an opportunity to challenge the rule.”
According to the legislation, anyone selling vaping products must:
- Register with the U.S. Attorney General
- Verify age of customers using a commercially available database
- Use private shipping services that collect an adult signature at the point of delivery
- If selling in states that tax vaping products, sellers must register with the federal government and with the tobacco tax administrators of the states
- Collect all applicable local and state taxes, and affix any required tax stamps to the products sold
- Send each taxing state’s tax administrator a list of all transactions with customers in their state, including the names and addresses of each customer sold to, and the quantities and type of each product sold
- Maintain records for five years of any “delivery interrupted because the carrier or service determines or has reason to believe that the person ordering the delivery is in violation of the [PACT Act]”
Both UPS and FedEx have rules against shipping traditional cigarettes and say they will extend those rules to include ENDS products. Violators can receive up to three years in prison, face steep fines and potentially lose their business.