The U.S. Postal Service is expected soon to finalize a rule that will prohibit mailing e-cigarettes and other vaping products under most circumstances. The agency issued a proposed rule on Feb. 19, and public comment on the rule is expected to end March 22. Many private carriers, including DHL, UPS, and FedEx, have already announced that they will prohibit the shipping of vaping products prior to the effective date of the rule.
The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 — signed into law on Dec. 27, 2020, to further COVID-19 relief efforts — includes the Preventing Online Sales of E-Cigarettes to Children Act, which aims to prevent sales of e-cigarettes to minors. The provision modifies sections of the Jenkins Act of 1949, as amended by the Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking Act (PACT) of 2009, by adding electronic nicotine delivery systems — defined broadly to include e-cigarettes and vaping products — to the definition of “cigarette.”
The PACT Act requires sellers who ship cigarettes to utilize age verification methods and prohibits the shipment of cigarettes through the U.S. mail, unless an exception applies. The Preventing Online Sales of E-Cigarettes to Children Act puts in place the same safeguards for e-cigarettes as for traditional cigarettes. The act provides the U.S. Postal Service the authority to promulgate rules to clarify the changes to the statutory definition of “cigarette.” The rule uses an umbrella term, “tobacco product,” to satisfy the inclusion of e-cigarettes and vaping products in the mailing prohibition. The Biden administration has moved quickly to issue a rule, which will take effect immediately upon publication of the final rule.
For a timeline of past federal and state tobacco policy efforts, see our infographic from October 2019. See also our infographic from January 2020 on e-cigarette use among Arkansas youth and policy options for addressing it.