Close e-commerce loophole to control e-cigs

New US research shows online shopping for cigarettes and vapes increased significantly after the introduction of new Californian laws restricting the sale of flavoured tobacco products.

The findings published in Tobacco Control may provide useful insights into loopholes for regulators, as the Australian Government moves to introduce new e-cigarette restrictions, including banning certain colours, flavours and packaging. 

University of California researchers assessed the impact of the new rules banning the sale of flavoured tobacco products – under Senate Bill 793 – on online shopping behaviour. 

They found online shopping queries for cigarettes were 194% higher and vape products were 162% higher than expected in the wake of the new controls.

They also identified a number of online retailers offering access to prohibited products to Californian consumers.

“The absence of explicit regulations on e-commerce sales can create loopholes in enforcing tobacco control laws, allowing consumers to easily access restricted products online,” says Dr Eric Leas, an assistant professor at UC San and director of the Tobacco E-commerce Lab.

“By including e-commerce in the definition of ‘tobacco retailer’ and ensuring strict compliance monitoring, we can close these loopholes and improve the effectiveness of tobacco control policies.”

To close what the authors have identified as a ‘loophole’, they recommend regulations include e-commerce retailers, and monitoring of online compliance.

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