The State Senate in Texas recently passed Bill 97 (SB 97), imposing new regulations on both online and brick-and-mortar electronic cigarette sales. Section 161.082 of SB 97 prohibits the sale of electronic cigarette products to minors under the age of 18; mandating strict penalties for any electronic cigarette distributor who violates the law. Signed into law by Texas Governor Greg Abbott on May 28th of this year, the new legislation will go into effect on October 1.
In addition to restricting the sale of electronic cigarette products to minors, SB 97 requires vapor companies that sell and ship to Texas residents to meet stringent packaging standards. The new law states that e-liquid bottles must be manufactured with child-resistant caps, with the exception of e-liquids found in prefilled cartridges.
SB 97 also declares that physical retail locations and vending machines selling electronic cigarette products must post related signage in a conspicuous location. The signs will warn against the sale and use of vapor products by minors, as well as danger warnings to women who are pregnant. In addition, Bill 97 prohibits electronic cigarette use on primary or secondary school premises, elevators, enclosed theaters, libraries, museums, hospitals, city or interstate buses, planes or trains, in the state of Texas.
Under this new bill, online electronic cigarette retailers are required to use age verification software via commercially available databases. In addition, the identification of the online customer must match the name and information of the credit or debit card used to purchase electronic cigarette products online.
As a leader in self-regulation, V2 has used child-resistant packaging since we opened in 2010. We have also stayed on the forefront of age-verification tools; adopting the very process now required for the state of Texas when the technology was first introduced. We firmly believe that all electronic cigarette and vapor products are for adults only and we applaud the proactive stance SB 97 takes against the use or sale of these products to minors.
There is however, one section of SB 97 that we oppose, as it will raise the cost of shipping to destination addresses within the state of Texas. In addition to the mandated use of online age-verification software, orders sent to Texas addresses now require an adult signature upon delivery. Shipping carriers that offer signature service do so for an additional fee. As a result, our customers in Texas will see a surcharge added to the cost of shipping. Shipping options will also be limited to those that have signature service available.
Please note that we are currently working with our shipping partners to find a more cost-effective solution for customers requiring this service. We understand and apologize for the inconvenience.
For Texans who would like additional information on Texas SB 97, please contact your state representative. We urge Texas residents to share their stories with local legislators and encourage them to amend the signature requirement portion of SB 97.