A group of senators is expected to explain to eBay, Alibaba and Craiglist how they intend to combat the illegal sale of evaporation products on their platforms in letters that they will send to the companies on Monday.
In June, The edge reported that e-commerce platforms such as eBay were littered with e-cigarette lists. Some of these lists turned out to be authentic, branded products such as Juul pods, while others were counterfeit. These items violate eBay's policies and although the company uses a variety of tools to remove the listings, it is still fairly easy to purchase tobacco products and e-cigarettes on the platform. In addition to violating platform rules, there is also no method to check whether the buyer has the legal smoking age.
"Juul items cannot be sold on eBay," an eBay spokesperson said The edge back in June. "In the past year, we have blocked or deleted hundreds of thousands of e-cigarette offers."
The group of senators, led by senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), includes Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Ed Markey (D-MA), Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH).
"By allowing these products to get a foothold in your marketplace, you not only support these companies in their efforts to increase the demand and access of young people, but you also help counterfeiters who want to make a profit to make teenagers more damage, "wrote the senators. "Anyway, all these products – real or fake – are dangerous and should not be available on your platform."
Their interrogation of these platforms comes less than a week after President Donald Trump announced that his administration would try to ban all flavored e-cigarette products from the US market. In recent weeks, hundreds of people across the country have fallen ill and others have died as a result of fatal lung diseases associated with the use of e-cigarettes. It is still unclear what exactly causes these diseases, but they have led legislators to consider general prohibitions until more is known. A ban on fume products in physical stores is likely to sell more people using the devices to the black market.
"If eBay continues to work as it is and offers unlimited access to legitimate and counterfeit e-cigarettes, this taste restriction is meaningless," the senators said.
This is also not the first time that eBay has been criticized for hosting these offers. In April 2018 the Food and Drug Administration informed the company Juul products were sold on its platform. But even after the FDA contacted them, eBay is still flooded with vape products.
In their letters to eBay, Alibaba and Craigslist, senators investigate companies on their tobacco policies and how they intend to improve enforcement to keep evaporation products and e-cigarettes off their platform. The companies have until October 1 to respond to the senators.
"More needs to be done to ensure that tobacco products, some of which can be falsified, do not get a foothold in your market," the senators wrote to the e-commerce companies. "You must also ensure that your market does not contribute to the addiction of a new generation of tobacco users and the constant outbreak of diseases and lung injuries by vapors."