The Vape Mail Ban - What You Need To Know About The PACT Act
If you buy any vape-related products online then there is every chance you will have heard of the PACT act, which has become known as the “Vape Mail Ban.” So what is this act? How does it affect you and buying and using natural herbs? If you are a flower user rather than a tobacco user, you could still be impacted. The mail ban has definitely made it hard to purchase your favorite 510 thread batteries.
In December 2020, amid a relief bill for COVID-19, was a new law passed called the Preventing Online Sales of E-Cigarettes to Children Act. President Trump signed it into action and people started calling it the “Vape Mail Ban.” In reality, the name comes from the “Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking” acronym.
The law seeks to change a few things about the cigarette and vaping industry. It tells the postal service that they must have regulations in place to control the shipment of vapes and related products through the mail to consumers. It also includes vapes in the existing PACT act, formerly the Jenkins act, which prevents home delivery of tobacco.
In short, delivery companies would have to check IDs and get signatures to verify that the receiver of the package was of age, and had indeed ordered the product.
How the Postal Service Planned For the PACT Act
The postal agency made a plan to add vapes and related products to the rules already in place for cigarettes and other tobacco products. These rules stop businesses shipping tobacco products to residential addresses, but also make B2B shipping tough for these substances. This would have a huge impact on the tobacco industry, and the fact that vaping has become so popular.
The existing postal service rules do say that private people can send up to 10 small packages of tobacco to other individuals. It’s possible that the exemption could still exist, but it is really just a loophole to allow people to send gifts or to return products that don’t work. There are still forms to fill in and red tape around it.
In April 2021, the USPS announced it would be delaying the implementation of the act. It seems that the government is taking stock, and that there could be changes in line to the ban.
When the law passed, a huge number of private delivery companies and couriers immediately said they would stop allowing people to send vaping products, including both B2C and B2B shipping, putting a huge strain on the industry.
So, How Does This Affect Consumers?
Currently, the ban wording makes bleak reading for users f pretty much any vape product.
The definition of the products in question is “any electronic device that, through an aerosolized solution, delivers nicotine, flavor or any other substance to the user inhaling from the device; includes—an e-cigarette; e-hookah; e-cigar; vape pen; advanced refillable personal vaporizer; electronic pipe.”
As the law stands, that would almost certainly include vapes used for tobacco, along with oils and other products.
However, there’s still some hope that this is not going to fully pass, and the current delay might be encouraging for smokers. While the current wording would include hemp products, the USPS decision could point to the fact that there is a rethink currently underway.
Generally speaking, the U.S. has become a lot more tolerant of smoking, and it doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense that they would discourage vaping in such a way, especially in the states where smoking is legal.
The Outlook For Businesses
This is a big deal for a lot of small businesses who rely on sending their products to customers, or even to other businesses.
The American Vaping Association announced that 400 small business owners joined together and signed a letter to FedEx urging them to rethink their ban on vape shipping.
Naturally, if you are selling online you can ship much further afield, and eCommerce businesses built around vaping can spring up and serve their purpose. The industry has seen plenty of growth, and this means that there are people making their livelihoods in the industry.
The logic of reversing the ban goes far beyond just saving businesses, though. A lot of people are using vapes in the tobacco industry as a way to quit smoking. When they can’t get the vapes, there is every chance they will revert to smoking cigarettes.
It seems that businesses and customers are becoming caught up in a ban that isn’t really designed to prevent them from operating.
Though it is not a blanket ban, and businesses can still operate in person, the PACT Act makes things way more difficult for businesses than they have to be.
The PACT Act and Tax
There’s another big consideration when it comes to the PACT act. The law was originally put into place to create more tax regulation. It was an amendment to the Jenkins act which was passed to stop people from selling untaxed cigarettes. So the law has plenty to consider when it comes to taxes, too, and vaping products will now fall under this.
PACT makes it mandatory for state and local tax collection for online sellers as well as giving strict reporting regulations to businesses. Once again, this was not really intended for vaping, but now smokeless tobacco products, as well as smoking products and vapes, are going to be included.
The fact that vaping products are included is meant to stop selling to minors, but these additional restrictions are another huge restriction for businesses.
Sellers online will have to
- Verify the age of their customers using a third-party database
- Use private shipping and ensure there is an adult signature to meet delivery
- Register with tax administrators in every state and municipality where they operate
- Register with the ATF and Attorney General
- Add taxation stamps to a variety of products
- Send a list of every transaction to tax administrators, including loads of details on every customer such as their name, address, what they bought, and their phone number.
On top of this, the PACT act means that sellers will have to keep extra records and add more in terms of labeling. There are even potential criminal penalties.
The tax restrictions may make some of the businesses that are operating give up and move into other industries.
The Tobacco Control Act - Hope For Vapes?
The Tobacco Control Act (TCA) supersedes the PACT act in the eyes of the law if there’s a conflict, and this act has a very different definition of tobacco products.
“Any product made or derived from tobacco that is intended for human consumption, including any component, part, or accessory of a tobacco product (except for raw materials other than tobacco used in manufacturing a component, part, or accessory of a tobacco product).”
The FDA has jurisdiction over what is to be considered a tobacco product, and what is an “ENDS” product (electronic nicotine delivery systems) and the FDA interpretation seems to exclude other herbal products. It considers vapes or vape pens, personal vaporizers, e-cigarettes, e-pens, e-hookahs, e-cigars, and e-pipes to be ENDS.
The ray of hope is that exclusions to the rule include products that “do not contain nicotine or other material made or derived from tobacco.” That would include smoking-based products, and vapes and ENDS that are intended for the delivery of those products.
The PACT act or “Vape Mail Ban” is confusing and worrying for businesses and consumers. It certainly seems that the smoking industry has become collateral damage in a way that perhaps wasn’t even intended. The delay to the enforcement may suggest that there are some second thoughts. The focus must surely shift to products designed for the delivery of nicotine not other products.