E-cigarettes are banned for people under the age of 18 in 41 states, but a new study found out that the smoking devices can easily be bought online by minors.
Sales of e-cigarettes are on the rise in recent years in the US, after first being available in the country in 2007. A new study shows that only five out of 98 online websites that sell e-cigarettes require the buyer to prove his age.
The online shops usually asks the client to click a box or to enter a birth date in order to show he or she is not a minor.
According to the paper published in JAMA Pediatrics, most vendors lack a proper age verification software. The problem is, the e-cigarettes online stores are not required to use them as there are no federal regulations for the sales of this product.
The researchers supervised teens aged between 14 and 17 as they attempted to make e-cigarettes purchases online. They succeeded 75 times out of 98 tries. In 18 cases the failure was caused by payment processing or website failures.
Use of e-cigarettes has doubled among teenagers from 2011 to 2012, who find them more appealing than traditional cigarettes. The authors of the study blame the regulatory vacuum in this field and the vendors lack of effort in preventing sales to minors.
Harold Farber, a pediatric pulmonologist from the Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, blames the current situation on e-cigarettes marketing that targets teens, by creating flavors like cotton candy, grape or bubble gum.
He also warns that e-cigarettes can easily lead to young people addiction to nicotine, and could lead to the use of regular tobacco products.
Dr. Rebbeca S. Williams, the main author of the study, says that online e-cigarette vendors don’t want to decrease their profits by spending money to verify underage buyers.
Electronic cigarettes sales are on the rise in the United States, becoming a $1 billion market in 2013.
The e-cigarettes bought online are delivered by various postal services, like DHL Worldwide Express, FedEx Corp or U.S. Postal Services, who do not ship regular cigarettes. None of those companies attempted to check the age of the buyer and just left the package at the front door.
Photo source: Piercepioneer