U.S. Vapor Mail Ban Reverberates Worldwide

    Photo courtesy of UKVIA

    The impact of the pending U.S. restrictions on shipping vapor products is being felt internationally. The U.K. Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA), for example, has expressed “deep concern” about the measures, saying that U.K. businesses are affected.  

    In late December, Congress voted into law a $2.3 trillion coronavirus relief and government funding bill that contains a provision banning the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) from delivering vapor products.

    The USPS was already prohibited from delivering cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products to consumers under the PACT Act. The law passed in December extends the act’s original definition of “cigarette” to include electronic nicotine-delivery systems.

    Tobacco and vapor companies may use private services to ship their products to consumers, but the PACT Act requires them to register with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the tobacco tax administrators of the states into which a shipment is made. Delivery sellers are further required to verify the age and identity of the customer at purchase and maintain records of delivery sales for a period of four years after the date of sale, creating substantial administrative burdens.

    Critically for the vapor industry, the most popular carriers, Federal Express (FedEx) and United Parcel Service (UPS), have recently announced that they would cease all deliveries of vapor products.

    “We have had orders not being collected, and our own shops not receiving stock in a reliable manner, all of which impacts customers,” said Joe Bevan, director of UKVIA member Celtic Vapours. “As the majority of our business is currently online, we need efficient delivery of stock to provide the quickest service.”

    We have had orders not being collected, and our own shops not receiving stock in a reliable manner, all of which impacts customers.

    Joe Bevan, director, Celtic Vapours

    “At a time when many vapers are unfortunately unable to visit their local vape store, this is making it even more difficult for them to receive the consumable products they rely upon,” said Richard Russell, operations manager at Vape Distribution. “Certain carriers perhaps don’t realize that this action could lead vapers to revert back to smoking.”

    “The vaping supply chain is a global one, bringing together resources and expertise from around the world,” said John Dunne, director general at UKVIA. “It is bitterly disappointing to see these American restrictions having a negative impact in the U.K., but the nature of the supply chain makes it inevitable. In the EU, too, we are hearing of vaping businesses being turned away from major carriers.

    John Dunne

    “We have had orders not being collected, and our own shops not receiving stock in a reliable manner, all of which impacts customers,” said Joe Bevan, director of UKVIA member Celtic Vapours. “As the majority of our business is currently online, we need efficient delivery of stock to provide the quickest service.”

    “At a time when many vapers are unfortunately unable to visit their local vape store, this is making it even more difficult for them to receive the consumable products they rely upon,” said Richard Russell, operations manager at Vape Distribution. “Certain carriers perhaps don’t realize that this action could lead vapers to revert back to smoking.”

    “The vaping supply chain is a global one, bringing together resources and expertise from around the world,” said John Dunne, director general at UKVIA. “It is bitterly disappointing to see these American restrictions having a negative impact in the U.K., but the nature of the supply chain makes it inevitable. In the EU, too, we are hearing of vaping businesses being turned away from major carriers.

    “The potential impact on public health is grave as so many people are relying on shipped goods as a lifeline during the pandemic. Without proper access to harm-reduction products, we know people can revert to smoking cigarettes—today in the U.S. but perhaps tomorrow in the U.K. With businesses already struggling through lockdown and our health services under great strain, supply chain issues really are the last thing we need.

    “I call on the distribution industry, many of whom have been partners of the vaping industry for many years, to do all they can to support their U.K. customers and to avoid the blanket implementation of U.S. restrictions worldwide.

    “Furthermore, I call on the U.K. government to ensure that carriers in this country are free to continue to deliver vaping products to retailers and direct to consumers and to resist any urge to follow the U.S. down this regressive route.”