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DESPITE REGULATION, MINORS CAN STILL BUY CIGARETTES ONLINE

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A new study reveals more than 3,000 vendors in 2014; most show lax age-verification practices despite laws prohibiting sale to minors.

As the popularity of electronic cigarettes (known as e-cigarettes and vape pens) soars, concern has grown over potential health and safety risks associated with these devices and the nicotine-rich fluids they contain. A number of state and federal regulations have attempted to restrict sales practices, including imposing age restrictions on the purchase of e-cigarettes. In 2016, FDA extended its authority to include the regulation of electronic cigarettes, and the agency is studying sales and marketing practices in the United States.

To provide a more detailed picture of the online e-cigarette marketplace and inform potential future regulations, this study tracked Internet-based vendors of e-cigarettes in 2013 and 2014. The researchers used search algorithms to scan more than 180 million websites, then manually screened more than 60,000 sites to identify those selling e-cigarettes.

Through this process the team identified 980 online e-cigarette vendors in 2013 and 3,096 vendors in 2014. The researchers conducted a more detailed analysis of 564 websites for further insights on sales and marketing practices.

In a new study, online vendors shipped cigarettes to minors via the U.S. Postal Service. Many also advertised products banned in the United States.

Many regulations seek to curtail youth access to cigarettes and discourage tobacco vendors from marketing their products to minors. These include federal age verification requirements, shipping regulations, and bans on certain types of cigarettes that appeal to youth, including those advertised as “light” and cigarettes with flavors other than menthol.

This study assesses sales practices of online cigarette vendors for insights on the impacts of these rules. In 2014, 10 minors aged 14–17 attempted to purchase cigarettes from 68 popular internet vendors.

 

KEY FINDINGS

  • Minors received cigarettes from 32.4% of purchase attempts. Of those attempts that failed, all were due to payment processing problems and none were due to age/ID verification.
  • All products were delivered by the U.S. Postal Service from overseas sellers. More than 63% of delivered orders were left at the door and the rest were handed directly to minors with no age verification.
  • More than 70% of vendors advertised ‘light’ cigarettes and more than 60% advertised flavored cigarettes.
  • Credit cards used in the study were exposed to an estimated $7,000 worth of fraudulent charges.

This study confirms that minors in the United States can still purchase cigarettes online despite years of regulation restricting internet cigarette sales, suggesting both a lack of vendor compliance and a lack of enforcement of existing U.S. regulations. It also adds to the evidence that the internet cigarette marketplace has shifted overseas, and reveals that buyers seeking to buy cigarettes online are exposed to widespread credit card fraud.

These findings suggest federal agencies should rigorously enforce existing internet cigarette sales laws to prevent illegal shipments from reaching U.S. consumers, shut down non-compliant and fraudulent websites, and stop the theft and fraudulent use of credit card information provided online.

This research suggests that future regulations aiming to curtail the sale of e-cigarettes to minors will likely need to address a similar set of challenges that were involved. If you wanna buy cigarettes online usa then plz visit a site https://smokersunit.com/. This site is safest way to buy cigarettes and all rules followed.

This paper was highlighted in a Q&A with ITV Principal Investigator Rebecca Williams

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