Collection: Age Verification
While it is very hard for youth to buy a combustible tobacco product from stores or online because of stringent regulation, the same cannot be said of their access to electronic cigarettes (e-cigs). While no national regulation as yet exists that regulates e-cig sales to minors (the Food and Drug Administration proposed minimum age limits in April 2014 deeming regulations), many states have imposed state laws that prohibit the sale of e-cigs to minors.
However, e-cig companies continue to target youth by following the regulation in letter and not in spirit. Most e-cig brand websites flash age verification pop-ups as a barrier to the site. But the process is farcical and extremely easy to bypass. For many brand sites, getting this “adult-only” product is literally as easy as a click of a button. Some age verifications simply ask the user to choose between an “Enter” and “Exit’ button while others ask that the user enter a birth date before entering. For instance, Green Smart Living has an age verification pop up with the two buttons for enter and exit. However, the age restriction for the site is written in much smaller letters at the bottom of the pop-up window. Most consumers will miss the fact that the product is intended only for adults. That by entering the website, the user certifies that he/she is of legal age to buy e-cigs in the state that they live in.
The two brands that have the most stringent restrictions to access their site and buy their products are MarkTen and Vuse, both of which are subsidiaries of large tobacco companies- Altria and RJ Reynolds respectively. To access these companies websites, individuals have to provide their social security number and verify questions that confirm age and address authenticity. One of the reasons for such stringency maybe that the e-cig brands of these leading tobacco companies want to portray themselves as responsible market leaders and thereby distance themselves from any blame that could have been assigned to them because of their manufacturers tarnished reputation. It could also be simply a ploy for e-cig brands to collect useful demographic information about their customers.