The results of a new study show that US minors can easily purchase e-cigarettes online. The study was funded by the National Cancer Institute in North Carolina and published in the Journal of American Medical Association.
The study found that US minors, teens in particular, have a 93% success rate when trying to buy e-cigarettes from online sellers.
For the study, a group of 11 North Carolina teenagers was recruited. They were aged 14 to 17 and had no previous smoking history. The teens were asked to try to buy e-cigarettes from 98 internet-based vendors. In North Carolina, buying e-cigarettes as a minor is illegal, but out of the 98 websites, only five rejected the teens for buying underage. 18 of the 98 orders were rejected due to logistics issues, such as the products being out of stock.
For this study, the researchers also wanted to check if there would be an age verification procedure when the products arrived at the house of the buyer. But, almost 95% of the time, the deliveries were simply left outside the door and in the other cases, the minors answered the door and were handed the products without any additional questions and age verification.
At the present, 41 states are about to prohibit or have already prohibited the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors. But, according to the results of this new study, minors can avoid the legislation quite easily and buy the merchandise online.
Researcher at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and co-author of the study, Rebecca S. Williams, insisted that state lawmakers tighten the legislation since online vendors have no motivation to respect the law.
The Food and Drug Administration proposed in 2014 that e-cigarettes should fall under the same category in federal law as tobacco, which means that selling electronic cigarettes to minors would be forbidden. It would take a couple of years, at least, before the proposal gets adopted.
Electronic cigarettes usage is on the rise in US teens, as a national survey performed last year by the University of Michigan revealed that 17.1% of teenagers in the 12th grade had used an e-cigarette in the month prior to the study.
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