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Cities all across the country are putting pressure on various parts of the e-cigarette industry, in an attempt to dampen what is being called a "teenage vaping epidemic." For years, the federal government had been fighting traditional cigarette manufacturers, trying to eliminate sales and marketing to those under 18. But the e-cig movement blindsided officials, and though three steps behind, cities are ready to take on the fight to save youth from Nicotine Addiction 2.0.
Federal laws passed in August 2018 dictate that e-cig buyers must be 18 years of age or older. Selling to someone under this age is a crime for retailers, as is giving out free samples. Retailers must ask for proof of age via identification for anyone looking under 27. And unless a vending machine is in a facility that is only for adults, e-cig vending machines are strictly prohibited. Similar state laws are also in effect in most states.
Various cities are tired of waiting on the federal government to crack down using these laws, and have taken matters into their own hands. Many have, or plan to, file lawsuits. Chicago is planning a lawsuit against online retailers selling to minors. Los Angeles has asked for an injunction against e-cig companies that are selling products without verifying age as well as marketing to minors on social media. And private suits are rampant against e-cig companies marketing to minors on social media. In addition, there are numerous class action lawsuits against e-cig manufacturers alleging nicotine addiction for minors.
The FDA has announced it will restrict sales of flavored cartridge-based e-cig products to tobacco and vape shops, of which there are only about 100,000 in the US. Convenience stores and gas stations will no longer be able to sell the product. The FDA is concerned more about the cartridge based products, which are a bigger draw to teens. The open pen vaping systems are not affected by this ban, since they primarily target adults.
The FDA also announced plans for stricter age-verification requirements for online sales. These laws are set to be announced next week. According to one FDA official, "We're also going to restrict online sales only to sites that put in place specific age verification measures and limit access to kids that we are going to specify in guidance," the official said.
If your company is accused of selling or marketing e-cigarettes to minors, in violation of local, state, or federal laws, contact a business and commercial attorney immediately. Cities are no longer waiting for a federal crackdown and are taking matters into their own hands with laws currently, or soon to be, in place. You may not even know some of these laws exist. If you have any questions about the legitimacy of your business practice, contact an attorney today.
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.
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