Online vaping sales regulation bill harmful to small businesses, local vape shop owner says
HARLINGEN, Texas (KVEO) — Honario Soto Jr. opened Fire Vapes after transitioning to vaping from smoking, which he says is not healthy, but is less harmful than tobacco.
“It’s often I find a customer that never vaped before but wants to start vaping,” he said. “That’s when I urge them not to vape or smoke.”
At the start of the pandemic, he closed the store and moved to curbside and online sales. And while most of the orders still come from in-person, he opposes the “Preventing Online Sales of E-cigarettes to Children Act.”
“By removing the online sales, you’re almost forcing the customer to come out of their home and into the public where they may contract the virus,” he said.
Online sales can continue, but retailers face new requirements, including verifying the age of customers, requiring an ID for delivery, and they can’t ship through the U.S. Postal Service.
“UPS and FedEx will still be allowed to ship at a higher cost,” Soto said. “So, as an online vendor it’s going to become more expensive to run the business.”
Fire vapes has three locations in South Texas. While Soto says the difficulties primarily online vendors will face may benefit their store fronts, he fears people may also turn to illegal vape shops selling untested products or just resume smoking regular cigarettes.
“One of the bad things about banning online sales of regulated companies is now people are going to be able to go on a black market website and order from there,” he said.
The act is set to take effect within four months.
The FDA does not currently have age verification requirements for online purchases, though many online shops use popups for a birth date confirmation and require a driver’s license or form of identification.