The group of senators, led by Sen. Richard Blumenthal and including Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Jeff Merkley, Jeanne Shaheen, Ed Markey, Bob Menendez and Sherrod Brown, is questioning large internet trading platforms on their plans to counter illegitimate vaping and tobacco products from their listings.
“In allowing these products to secure a foothold on your marketplace, you are not only supporting these companies in their endeavour to increase youth demand and access but also assisting profiteering counterfeiters seeking to cause teens further harm,” the senators wrote. “Regardless, all of these products – real or counterfeit – are dangerous and shouldn’t be available on your platform.”
The questioning of these platforms comes less than a week after President Donald Trump announced that his administration would seek to ban all flavoured e-cigarette products from the American market. The platforms were reportedly filled with listings which included authentic, brand-name products like Juul pods, as well as counterfeit ones.
“Juul items are not allowed to be sold on eBay,” an eBay spokesperson told The Verge back in June. “Over the past year, we have blocked or removed hundreds of thousands of listings for e-cigarettes.”
In their letters to eBay, Alibaba, and Craigslist, the senators probe the companies on their tobacco policies and how they plan to improve enforcement in order to keep vape products and e-cigarettes off their platforms, giving the companies until 1 October to respond.
“More must be done to ensure that tobacco products, some of which could be adulterated, do not secure a foothold on your marketplace,” the senators wrote to the e-commerce companies. “You must also ensure that your marketplace does not contribute to the addiction of a new generation of tobacco users and the ongoing outbreak of vaping-related illnesses and lung injuries.”
The letter comes amid the 6 deaths and approximately 450 reported lung-related diseases around the US that the country’s federal health authorities believe are linked to vaping.