Oregon Set To Be the First State to Ban Online Vape Sales
The Oregon House of Representatives approved House Bill 2261 on April 12th, putting it one step closer to becoming the first state to ban online vape sales.
There is a federal vape mail ban that came into effect this month as well. The federal vape mail ban prohibits the United States Postal Service from delivering vaping and other tobacco products.
The mail vape ban has also forced private companies like UPS, FedEx, and DHL from handling vaping product packages. The Oregon online sale ban is one of the first of its kind in the nation. Oregonians also voted to raise taxes on tobacco and vaping products, which also took effect this year.
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Who Is Behind the Proposed Online Vape Sales Ban?
Bill 2261 was introduced and sponsored by State Representative Pam Marsh. The bill grew out of Marsh’s constituents reaching out to her to say how easy it was for their underage children to get vaping products online. Marsh cited these concerns along with data showing an increase in the teen vaping rates in the state.
The Oregon House advanced legislation Saturday that would ban online vape sales, close online loopholes used by underage Oregonians to purchase electronic inhalant delivery systems, or vaping products. https://t.co/uIyIq40byx
— KTVZ NewsChannel 21 (@KTVZ) April 12, 2021
According to the latest data from 2019, one in four high school students reported using an electronic vaping device in the last 30 days.
These statistics, however, are limited to showing ever-use of an electronic vaping device and not consistent use. None of the statistics ever show that teens are transitioning from vaping to smoking or that daily, consistent vape use among teenagers is rising, which it is not.
Regardless, Marsh also cited the oft-repeated contention that nicotine is addictive and harms the brain development of young people. According to some observers, it has been this focus on stunted adolescent brain development that has spurned on a national anti-vaping campaign that could be doing more harm than good.
What Other Anti-Vaping Measures Have Passed?
Oregon also recently voted to raise taxes on tobacco and vaping products in the state. Those taxes established a 65% excise tax on the sale of all vaping products or “inhalant delivery systems” – the name the law uses – in the state, along with concordant tax hikes on cigarettes and tobacco products.
While studies have shown that raising taxes on cigarettes has a positive effect, the same cannot be said of raising taxes on vaping products.
Study after study has shown that states that have adopted higher taxes on vaping products have seen a rise in the sale of cigarettes as a result. Cigarette sales and increasing vape sales in surrounding states have all been consequences of states raising taxes on vaping products.
While the purported motivation behind banning online vape sales is protecting teenagers, many states also see vape taxes as an easy way to generate revenue, especially after the Covid-19 pandemic battered state economies.
There is no indication that that is the reason for the possible online vape sales ban or increase in taxes.
Will Online Vape Sales Be Banned in Oregon?
The Oregon Legislature recently passed HB 2261, which bans all online sales of vaping devices in the state. The move comes almost six years after the state introduced legislation putting age limits on purchasing any electronic inhalant devices in the state.
That original bill from 2015 and the new bill recently passed were sponsored by State Senator Kathleen Taylor. He has made anti-vaping legislation part of her platform ever since she was first elected. Taylor argued that the current rules against selling vapes to minors are not enforced because of the supposed online sales “loophole”.
Sen. Taylor (D-Portland) has cited the statistics showing teen vaping on the rise. Even though more recent data shows the opposite, as more and more states tighten restrictions on even the adult use of vaping devices. The move to ban online sales comes after federal legislation, known as the PACT Act. It came into effect this past March.
The PACT Act effectively banned the business-to-customer delivery of vaping devices by the US Postal Service. The new regulations aimed at preventing illicit online sales to minors were the reason given by FedEx, UPS, and DHL for also adding vaping devices bought online to their respective list of undeliverable items.
It is too early to say whether HB2261 will pass Senate approval and then be signed into law by Governor Kate Brown.
There are a dozen different scenarios that could affect the bill, so it is hard to say whether it will become law or not. There has not been much opposition to the bill from either party. So it is up to Oregon vapers to organize and be heard before the bill is quietly passed without a protest.
If you live in Oregon and are a vaping enthusiast, you can reach out to your state representative to voice your opinion. After all, this bill came into life after young people organized and contacted their representative in the State Senate, so it stands to reason that people who oppose the bill can do the same.