Laws Aren't Preventing Teens From Buying E-Cigarettes Online

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Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigs, are gaining extreme popularity among teens. If your teenager is under the legal age to buy e-cigarettes in your state, you may think that it’d be difficult for him or her to purchase these products—but that’s not necessarily true. A surprising new study shows that teens can actually easily buy e-cigarettesvery quickly at one place: online.

The researchers at the University of North Carolina had 11 non-smoking teenagers buy e-cigs from 98 different vendors using credit cards. They found that “only five out of 98 attempts by teens to buy e-cigarettes online were blocked by online vendors’ attempts to verify customer age.” Even if a state prohibits the sales of e-cigarettes to minors and requires age verification, teens were able to successfully make the purchase. 

What may even be more surprising is that no teen was asked for proof of age when the packages were delivered, as with what usually happens with liquor delivery services. In fact, 95 percent of the orders were just left at the door. 

Many teenagers may be attracted to e-cigs because they falsely believe that they’re safer than regular cigarettes. The best way to prevent teens from purchasing these devices is to educate them about the dangers of e-cigarettes. You should also keep an eye out for online searches and deliveries to your home. 

To learn more about teens and electronic cigarettes, read our story “E-Cigarettes: Can They Kill You Too” with your teen! It was featured in the February issue of Choices.