A new study finds that online vendors of e-liquids, used for e-cigarettes, do not take proper precautions to prevent sales to minors.
Researchers found that only four of 120 vendors included in the study validated the ages of online purchasers. Fifteen of them also marketed directly to minors by providing free e-liquid products, candy and trinkets with youth appeal, such as playing cards, plastic balloon kits, bracelets and a collection of branded stickers.
While there is no current federal ban on selling e-liquids to minors, at least 48 states, including California, and two territories prohibit sales of electronic cigarettes or vaping/alternative tobacco products to minors. The industry’s two leading trade associations oppose marketing or selling to those under 18.
“Regardless of whether they are members of trade associations or not, online vendors of e-liquids are not doing a good job of preventing sales to minors,” said Dmitriy Nikitin, University of California, Irvine public health researcher and study leader. “The FDA’s upcoming rules on e-cigarette products should include explicit requirements for offline and online e-liquid vendors, particularly the use of effective age verification, warning labels and child-resistant packaging.”
David Timberlake, associate professor of public health at UCI, and Rebecca Williams of UNC contributed to the study, which appears online in Nicotine & Tobacco Research. The researchers’ objective was to assess whether the nascent but rapidly growing e-liquid industry successfully prevents online sales to minors and employs safety measures to avoid accidental poisonings.