The National Cancer Institute, a division of the United States Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), completed a study and found that American youth may easily purchase e-cigarettes via the Internet. While in some cases minors seeking to purchase e-cigarettes are unable to do so, the overwhelming majority succeed. The study suggests that 93 out of every 100 minors will get their hands on the product.
The study involved 11 North Carolina teens between the ages of 14 and 17. In every case, the teens had no prior past using tobacco products. North Carolina was selected as the site for the orders because it is illegal for minors to purchase the product in that state. The youths were instructed to go to 98 known Internet sites that sell e-cigarettes and make purchases. In total, the group of teens attempted to place orders at each site. Of the 98 orders attempted, five were blocked due to age restrictions. Of the 93 orders that were placed, 18 did not arrive, but it was factors other than age. In some cases, the product was on back order. In all, 75 orders arrived as scheduled.
In addition, researchers were also looking to see if the vendors would require age verification prior to the recipient taking possession of the parcels. The results of that test were equally disappointing. In most cases, the parcels were simply placed at the youth’s doorstep. In other cases, the youths opened their doors and were handed the product. While 80 percent of nation’s legislatures are looking at passing laws restricting the sale of e-cigarettes, the fact is youths can get what they want online without any issues. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is considering classifying e-cigarettes as tobacco products to regulate them with age restrictions, but that change is at least two years away.