Have you noticed that the prices at your local vape shops have gone up a bit in 2021? If you usually buy your vape gear online, you’ve probably noticed that the experience has changed there as well. You’re paying a little more for each product, and you’re probably also paying higher shipping fees. You’re probably now being asked to provide a photo identification at the time of delivery, even though vape gear used to go straight to your mailbox with the rest of your mail.
If you don’t pay close attention to the vaping news, you might be wondering what’s going on because things are still in flux currently, and vape shops haven’t always done a good job of announcing the changes to their customers. What’s changed is that the US has instituted new vaping laws. You’d be forgiven if you didn’t know about the new vaping regulations since they were buried literally thousands of pages into the longest single piece of legislation ever passed by Congress. The bill was so long that even the people voting on it didn’t have time to read it.
The US government’s omnibus spending bill for 2021 has forever changed the way in which people buy vaping products in this country. With the bill now in force, people actually have an easier time buying JUUL in Australia than they do here even though JUUL is an American product.
So, what exactly has changed with the vaping regulations in the US, and how do those changes affect you if you vape?
What Are the New US Vaping Regulations for 2021?
The new vaping regulations included in the 2021 omnibus spending bill and signed into law in 2020 by then-President Trump include the following two items.
- The regulations put forth in the Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking (PACT) Act of 2009 now apply to all vaping products. Any company that ships vaping products across state lines must now save records of all sales and transmit those records to the tobacco taxation authorities in the locations to which that company ships. The paperwork requirements imposed by the PACT Act are so onerous that, for the smallest retailers, compliance is simply impossible. If you noticed that many small online vape shops went out of business around the beginning of 2021, the PACT Act is the reason why.
- The USPS has been ordered to implement a ban on shipments of vaping products to consumers. This ban will apply to devices, tanks, coils and e-liquid, including e-liquid containing no nicotine. Many vapers have referred to the 2021 omnibus spending bill as the “vape mail ban” for that reason.
How Did the New Vaping Regulations Pass So Quickly?
The new vaping regulations passed quickly because they were included in an omnibus spending bill. Members of Congress were only able to vote for or against the entire bill and could not vote on specific line items. It is a common tactic for politicians to add controversial items to omnibus bills to ensure that those items can pass without opposition. The 2021 omnibus bill funded the federal government for the year and included $900 billion in COVID-related aid. Failure to pass the bill would have resulted in a government shutdown and would have delayed much-needed economic relief. Although the bill contained many controversial items, there was never any chance that it wouldn’t pass.
How the New Regulations Affect You if You Buy Vape Gear Online
As you learned from reading the information above, many small online vape shops simply went out of business when the new vaping regulations were enacted because they couldn’t handle the burden of complying with the PACT Act. If your favorite online vape shop is still around, they’ve decided to comply with the act. That’s transparent to you. If your state charges a tax on vaping products, the vape shop should already be collecting those taxes from you during the checkout process.
The second part of the law – the vape mail ban – is the part that’s really going to change things for you. At the time of writing in July 2021, the USPS has been slow to implement the ban and is still carrying vaping products to consumers. In preparation for the ban, vape shops are already requiring adult signatures on all deliveries of vaping products. That’s why your mail carrier has stopped dropping your e-liquid in your mailbox, and it’s also why you’re suddenly paying higher shipping fees when you order vaping products online.
Very soon, though, the USPS will finish implementing the ban – and at that point, all vape mail will stop. Vape shops won’t be able to switch to FedEx, UPS or DHL, because all of those carriers have already banned shipments of vaping products. The only alternative is to use private courier networks, and many vape shops already have networks in place in preparation for the vape mail ban. If you live in a major metropolitan area, you probably don’t have to worry because the couriers most likely deliver to where you are. Many smaller towns, however, aren’t covered by the couriers at this time – and neither are Alaska and Hawaii. If the private couriers do deliver to where you live, you’ll still be able to buy vape gear online and have it shipped to you. However, you can expect to pay higher prices across the board and should plan your purchases in advance. That way, you can buy in bulk and minimize your shipping fees.
How the New Regulations Affect You if You Buy Vape Gear Locally
If you prefer local vape shops and don’t go online to buy your vape gear, you’re not likely to see much of a change in terms of the products that you can find in your local vape shops. Although there have been supply chain issues in the vaping industry since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the occasional shortages of certain coils, pods and other products have nothing to do with the latest vaping regulations. That’s simply a symptom of the current difficulties with the flow of products out of China.
Your buying experience is, however, going to change in one way: You’re likely to pay higher prices for everything in the very near future. There are many regions that aren’t covered at all by the private courier networks that the online vape shops will soon begin using for order fulfillment, and that means the brick-and-mortar vape shops in those areas now effectively have no competition. The online vape shops have been undercutting the local vape shops for years. The brick-and-mortar shops now have a chance to rake in some serious money, and many of them are going to take advantage of that.