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Does Instacart Deliver Cigarettes? (Explained)

By Ferdi Vol
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Thanks to modern delivery services you can get pretty much anything delivered to your doorstep. However, if you ever tried to order cigarettes using Instacart you have probably been disappointed and wondered ‘Does Instacart deliver cigarettes or not?’ In this article, I will answer this very question using some expert opinion and personal research.

No, Instacart does not deliver cigarettes. Even if you are of legal age, in dire need of a smoke, and willing to pay the bills, Instacart will not deliver cigarettes or any other tobacco products to your doorstep.

To understand exactly why Instacart does not deliver cigarettes I reached out to some professionals in the field and did some research on laws regarding tobacco delivery. In this article, I will answer all your questions relating to tobacco delivery and Instacart.

Why Doesn't Instacart Deliver Cigarettes?

The American grocery delivery service Instacart makes it very easy for people living in Canada and America to do their grocery shopping remotely. If your grocery list includes cigarettes, however, it is a completely different story.

Selling cigarettes or any other tobacco product naturally falls under a lot of regulations and legal guidelines that need to be met. In Canada, one needs to be 18 or above to buy any tobacco product. On the other hand, you need to be 21 to buy tobacco products in the US.

So, Instacart cannot deliver cigarettes or any other tobacco products for that matter before they can include a mechanism in their system that will ensure the product is being delivered to someone of legal age.

As of now, they do not have any such system. So, they cannot ensure the legal handling of tobacco products. And so, they do not deliver cigarettes or any other tobacco products. But it may change in the future.

Is Delivering Cigarettes Illegal?

Considering the legal restrictions and the fact that popular delivery services like Instacart do not deliver cigarettes, one might think delivering cigarettes is illegal. It is not exactly illegal. But it is not easy to get it done legally either.

Cigarettes and all other tobacco products are heavily restricted by legal guidelines. This includes not only cigarettes but also dissolvable cigarettes, chewing tobacco, e-cigarettes, and so on. And this applies to remote buying of tobacco products too.

This is why when delivery services like Instacart, DoorDash, or UberEATS try to sell products containing tobacco they have to be aware of these guidelines and ensure that these are followed.

As Instacart mainly operates in America and Canada, I will review the laws regarding buying and selling tobacco in these two places here:

Laws Regarding Selling Tobacco in the US:

Previously, the legal age for a customer buying tobacco in the US was 18 years. But recently, The United States Food and Drug Administration has raised the bar from 18 to 21 on legal age for buying tobacco products.

So, in the U.S., when a seller is selling cigarettes, or a delivery system is delivering cigarettes to someone’s door they have to ensure that the person buying is 21 years of age or older.

Laws Regarding Selling Tobacco in Canada:

Anywhere in Canada, it is illegal to sell tobacco products to anyone under 18 years according to the 1997 federal Tobacco Act.

So, in the case of Canada, when a seller is selling or delivering cigarettes, they need to ensure that the person who ordered them as well as the person who is receiving them are 18 years of age or older.

As it is difficult to ensure the age of the person ordering and receiving the products using a delivery system, it is slightly difficult to make it legal.

However, in general, it is not illegal to deliver cigarettes if it maintains all the legal guidelines. If the delivery service ensures that the cigarettes and being bought by someone of legal age and being received by them then it is totally legal!

Will Instacart Start Delivering Cigarettes in The Future?

The short answer is no, but there is still hope! It does not look like Instacart will start delivering cigarettes any time soon. I am sorry to break it to you but as of now, there has been no news of Instacart delivering cigarettes.

However, they have started delivering alcohol to 14 states recently. Previously they did not deliver alcohol either. But in March 2019, they announced that they would start delivering alcohol to numerous states.

According to their alcohol delivery policy, they check the ID of the person ordering to ensure that they are of legal age. And before delivering the product the delivery person checks the recipient's ID in person to make sure it is legal.

They are very strict about only allowing people above the age of 21 to order and receive alcoholic products. They also follow a return policy on invalid or expired ID.

The main issue regarding delivering alcohol is ensuring it is being done legally. And to do that the delivery service has to check the age of the person ordering the product. Additionally, they have to ensure that someone of legal age is receiving the product.

 As Instacart already has a similar system going for alcohol delivery, Cigarettes may be next!

Why Does Instacart Deliver Alcohol but Not Cigarettes?

To someone who does not know the backstory, it might appear odd that this popular and widely used delivery service delivers alcohol but not cigarettes. Especially considering how legal restrictions for alcohol vary from state to state making it even more difficult to make delivery legal.

However, it is actually not that odd because they only recently started delivering alcoholic products. Before March 2019 alcoholic products were also something Instacart had a delivery restriction on. And the reason behind is the same as why they do not deliver cigarettes. It is difficult to make delivery legal.

Now that they have established a system that checks the buyer's age and ID before delivering the product, they can ensure they are delivering it legally. So, it can be expected that they will start doing the same for cigarettes soon. But the company has not officially said anything about this. So, there is really no way of knowing exactly why they do not deliver cigarettes yet when they deliver alcohol.

If Not Instacart Where Can I Order Cigarettes?

If you think since Instacart will not deliver cigarettes you will get your tobacco fix from UberEATS, sadly that will not work either. UberEATS also does not deliver cigarettes or any other tobacco-containing products. Interestingly, they too deliver Alcohol but not cigarettes.

But do not lose hope yet because there are other options. Delivery services such as DoorDash and Postmates do deliver cigarettes.

Ordering from DoorDash:

Doordash is a delivery service based in America. They do deliver cigarettes but only after heavy checking. You will have to use a valid ID to order and show that you are of legal age.

Even when the product is being handed over to you, the delivery person will check your ID for more clarification. And only after they ensure that your ID is not invalid or expired and you are of legal age will you get your cigarettes.

DoorDash Not only this they have restrictions on delivering to certain places like hospitals, schools, lockers, prisons, college campuses, and so on.

Ordering from Postmates:

Postmates is another delivery service that provides its service to most cities in America. It does deliver cigarettes but not in all states. And of course, the buyer has to scan their ID to order as well as receive the product.

So, if you are considering ordering cigarettes online, make sure you are of legal age and have a valid ID. It will also help to check out the specific guidelines of the particular delivery service before ordering from them as these guidelines are strictly maintained in the case of regulated products such as cigarettes.

What Other Items Does Instacart Not Deliver?

If you are this far down the rabbit hole you are probably curious about what other products Instacart has a delivery restriction on. You would be surprised to know that it is not only cigarettes or alcoholic beverages alone. Some random harmless things like furniture are also on this list.

These are the items listed on the Instacart website as items not available for delivery:

  • Any kind of live animals or even feeder animals used for pets
  • Trees for holiday (i.e., Christmas tree)
  • Currency
  • Tobacco or any tobacco products such as products containing nicotine
  • Lottery Tickets
  • Items containing the following elements: Phenylpropanolamine, pseudoephedrine, or ephedrine.
  • Furniture
  • Weapons or parts of weapons
  • Photos
  • Gift cards

By now you know the answer to does Instacart deliver cigarettes. The answer to this question may be no but at least now you know why. Considering they recently started delivering alcohol we can hope that the answer to this question will change from no to yes sooner rather than later.

In this article, I cleared up all the legal issues surrounding tobacco delivery and answered all possible questions regarding Instacart's delivery restrictions. So, hopefully, it will make your next purchase much smoother and well-informed!

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About the Grocery Store Academy
The Grocery Store Academy is a blog about everything that has to do with grocery stores. This is your #1 spot to find the right information for your needs.
About the Author
Ferdi Vol has worked several years in a grocery store and has a passion for good food. He's happy to share his passion with you!
About Ferdi Vol
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