Monday, September 19, 2016

PA - Take action to change the 40% tax on vapor products!



In response to the damage already done in Pennsylvania, Representative Jeff Wheeland is introducing HB 2342, which will replace the 40% wholesale tax on all vapor products with a 5¢/ml tax on e-liquid.

Pennsylvania’s 40% wholesale tax on vapor products is completely unworkable. Dozens of shops have already closed in advance of the effective date because they are unable to afford paying 40% more on products they sell in addition to paying a 40% floor tax on all of their inventory as of October 1, 2016. There is also a stark realization that Pennsylvania consumers will likely purchase vapor products from out of state to avoid the punitive tax.

Take action NOW and urge your Pennsylvania lawmakers
to support a more manageable tax on vapor products.

Take Action - Send a Message

CASAA is opposed to any extra taxes on vapor products. We believe it is inappropriate to punish former smokers and would-be switchers for making healthier choices. Extra taxes also send the confusing and inaccurate message to consumers that vapor products carry risks similar to smoking. There is no credible science to support this notion.

However, CASAA is supportive of efforts that reduce taxes imposed on vapor products, like this effort in Pennsylvania. Please take action now and help Pennsylvania set an example for the rest of the country by reducing the extra tax on vapor products.


(Writing Tip #1) If you have a lot to say, please craft your email in a separate word doc and then copy/paste it into the field provided.  If you take too long, they system will time out and you will lose your work.
(Writing Tip #2) Although we've provided a prewritten email with compelling talking points, we would strongly encourage you to edit the email because personalized communications to legislators are far more persuasive than form letters.  At a minimum, PLEASE INCLUDE YOUR PERSONAL STORY (just a few sentences) in the text of your email.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Local Alert - Allegheny Co., PA - Take action to oppose an indoor vaping ban



Allegheny Co., PA


(Update - 08.17.16)


On Monday, August 15th, the Allegheny Co. Board of Health held a hearing regarding a countywide ban on vaping in workplaces and other public indoor spaces. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and those that showed up to testify,


“...the legislation, which essentially would restrict the use of vapor devices to spaces where tobacco cigarettes can be smoked, is pretty much being met with a collective shrug from the e-cigarette community. As of Friday, only 10 people — some pro, some con — had signed up to speak at the hearing.”


Even if you were unable to make it to this hearing, you still have an opportunity to submit a comment to the department of health. The public comment period will run until August 22nd, 2016, 5:00PM.


Take Action - Send a Comment


Please make sure to include your story about how vaping has benefitted your life (see writing tips below). Encourage your friends and family to send comments as well.


To view the proposals please visit http://www.achd.net/chrond/smoking/ecig.html


To comment on the proposals, please send an email to PublicHealthComment@AlleghenyCounty.us
(See talking points below)


________________________
(Update - 07.21.16)


On Wednesday, July 13th, 2016, the Allegheny Co. Health Department (ACHD) held a hearing regarding ordinances that would regulate where electronic cigarettes can be used. The department received over 400 correspondences from county residents who are opposed to this regulation. There were no letters in support.


The ACHD moved to post the anti-vaping proposals on their site for review and public comment. The public comment period will run until August 22nd, 2016, 5:00PM.


In advance of the public hearing (below) and until the comment period ends, it is vital that Allegheny County residents submit comments opposing this ordinance.


Take Action - Send a Comment


Please make sure to include your story about how vaping has benefitted your life (see writing tips below). Encourage your friends and family to send comments as well.


A public hearing has been scheduled to take testimony on the proposed vaping regulations:


1:00PM
Allegheny County Courthouse
Fourth Floor - Gold Room
436 Grant Street
Pittsburgh, PA


To view the proposals please visit http://www.achd.net/chrond/smoking/ecig.html


To comment on the proposals, please send an email to PublicHealthComment@AlleghenyCounty.us
(See talking points below)


To schedule oral testimony:


Calls or emails regarding testimony must be received by Sunday, August 14th, 1:00PM.
  • Speakers will be limited to three minutes and should bring a written copy of their comments.
  • Individuals who request to speak in advance of the hearing will be afforded an earlier time to speak.




(Writing Tip #1) If you have a lot to say, please craft your email in a separate word doc and then copy/paste it into the field provided.  If you take too long, they system will time out and you will lose your work.
(Writing Tip #2) Although we've provided a prewritten email with compelling talking points, we would strongly encourage you to edit the email because personalized communications to legislators are far more persuasive than form letters.  At a minimum, PLEASE INCLUDE YOUR PERSONAL STORY (just a few sentences) in the text of your email.

-----------------------------------
(Original Post - 07.09.16)


The Allegheny Board of Health (BOH) will be meeting to discuss an ordinance that would ban vaping in the same places where smoking is currently prohibited -- possibly including vapor shops -- on:


Wednesday, July 13th, 2016
12:30 PM
ACHD Conference Room
542 Fourth Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15219


Please take action NOW by sending an email urging the BOH to reconsider this anti-harm reduction policy.


Take Action - Send an Email


Please make plans to attend the July 13 BOH meeting. If you wish to speak, you must send a request to boardofhealth@alleghenycounty.us or by phone at 412-687-2243 requesting to “speak on the proposed vaping ban.” We have provided talking points for speaking below.


**Please note**, speaking time will be limited to 3 minutes and requests to speak must be made before July 12th, 2016, 12:30 PM.


If you sign up to speak at the July 13th BOH meeting, please contact Bill Godshall (Smokefree PA) before the meeting to coordinate.


Bill Godshall
Executive Director
Smokefree Pennsylvania
1926 Monongahela Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15218
412-351-5880
BillGodshall@verizon.net






Suggested Talking Points - Place Ban
  • (Please choose a few of the points below -- topics you are most comfortable discussing.)


  1. You are a resident and you oppose banning e-cigarette use where smoking is prohibited. (If you are responding to a Call to Action or Local Alert for a city or state in which you are not a resident, please mention any connection you have to the area, for example, you travel there on vacation or have friends/family in the area.)


  1. Other governments are taking exactly the opposite approach; Public Health England (the government public health agency) and The Royal College of Physicians (a 500 year old association of 32,000 medical professionals in the UK) recently explicitly endorsed a policy of encouraging smokers to switch to e-cigarettes and vapor products (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/e-cigarettes-an-evidence-update) (https://www.rcplondon.ac.uk/projects/outputs/nicotine-without-smoke-tobacco-harm-reduction-0).


  1. Tell your story on how switching to an e-cigarette has changed your life. (Avoid using slang terms such as "juice.")


  1. Clarify that:
    1. Smoking bans are ostensibly enacted to protect the public from the harm of secondhand smoke, but e-cigarettes have not been found to pose a risk to bystanders. In fact, all evidence to date shows that the low health risks associated with e-cigarettes are comparable to other smokeless nicotine products.
    2. The low risks of e-cigarettes is supported by research done by Dr. Siegel of Boston University, Dr. Eissenberg of Virginia Commonwealth, Dr Maciej L Goniewicz of the Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Dr. Laugesen of Health New Zealand, Dr. Igor Burstyn of Drexel University, and by the fact that the FDA testing, in spite of its press statement, failed to find harmful levels of carcinogens or toxic levels of any chemical in the vapor.
    3. A comprehensive review conducted by Dr. Igor Burstyn of Drexel University School of Public Health based on over 9,000 observations of e-cigarette liquid and vapor found "no apparent concern" for bystanders exposed to e-cigarette vapor, even under "worst case" assumptions about exposure.
    4. Electronic cigarette use is easy to distinguish from actual smoking. Although some e-cigarettes resemble real cigarettes, many do not. It is easy to tell when someone lights a cigarette from the smell of smoke. E-cigarette vapor is often practically odorless, and generally any detectable odor is not unpleasant and smells nothing like smoke. Additionally, e-cigarette users can decide whether to release any vapor ("discreet vaping").  With so little evidence of use, enforcing use bans on electronic cigarettes would be nearly impossible.
    5. The ability to use electronic cigarettes in public spaces will actually improve public health by inspiring other smokers to switch and reduce their health risks by an estimated 99%.
    6. Losing the ability to test e-liquids before purchasing will have a significant and negative impact on your ability to purchase/sell e-liquids.
    7. Many smokers first try e-cigarettes because they can use them where they cannot smoke, however, they often become "accidental quitters." This is a documented phenomenon unique to e-cigarettes. It may take a few months or only a few days, but they inevitably stop smoking conventional cigarettes. This is why including e-cigarettes in smoking bans could have serious unintended consequences!
    8. By making e-cigarette users go outdoors, the City will also be sending a strong message to traditional smokers that e-cigarettes are no safer than smoking. This will actually maintain the number of smokers, rather than help reduce smoking. This is a far more realistic risk to public health than any unfounded concerns about possible youth or non-smoker use uptake. In fact, the most recent report by the CDC showed that the dramatic increase in e-cigarette use over that past 3 years has not led to an increase in youth smoking. Youth smoking of traditional cigarettes continues to decline to record low levels.
    9. The children of smoking parents are far more likely to become smokers than the children of non-smoking parents who see smoking behaviors in public. The children of smoking parents who quit aren't any more likely to smoke than those of non-smoking parents. Prohibiting vapor products in public does little to protect the children of non-smoking parents from becoming smokers, but significantly increases the likelihood that many smoking parents won't switch to e-cigarettes. This only serves to keep the highest-risk children at risk.
    10. E-cigarette use does not promote the smoking of traditional cigarettes, nor does it threaten the gains of tobacco control over the past few decades. In fact, by normalizing e-cigarette use over traditional smoking, the efforts of tobacco control are being supported. If anything, e-cigarette use denormalizes conventional smoking by setting the example of smokers choosing a far less harmful alternative to traditional smoking. The CDC surveys clearly show that there has been no "gateway effect" causing non-smokers to start smoking. As e-cigarettes have become more popular, all available evidence is showing that more and more smokers are quitting traditional cigarettes, including youth smokers.
    11. Important Note: A typical and frequent lawmaker response to e-cigarette users who object to public use bans is "We aren't banning all use or sales, just use where smoking is also prohibited." Don't give them the opportunity to counter you in that way! Make it very clear that you understand that this is not a ban of e-cigarette sales or a ban of e-cigarette use where smoking is allowed. But, what IS being proposed is still a step backward in public health, not a step forward.


5) Direct them to the CASAA.org website, as well as the CASAA Research Library, for more information.



Answer Ron Johnson


(Please noteif you live outside of Wisconsin, please follow the directions below to print and send your letter.)

Senator Ron Johnson (WI) is taking the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to task over the impact of the “deeming rule” on small to medium vapor businesses across the country. Sen. Johnson, Chair of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, has sent several letters to the FDA requesting to see, among other things, their calculations regarding the number of vapor businesses that would be forced to close as a result of the deeming rule.


The FDA has rebuffed his request for information.


From CASAA’s perspective, the independent vapor shop is vital for ensuring consumer access to a wide variety of vapor products, as well as for helping smokers successfully transition to smoke-free products. Without a doubt, the FDA regulations will kill the diverse vapor market, which will lead to thousands of vapor shops closing. Senator Johnson is working to prevent that.


Please take a moment now to send Senator Johnson a thank you letter.




(For a pre-written letter that you can print and send, click here. To edit this letter, make a copy in google drive and then include your additions)


If you live outside of Wisconsin or would prefer to write a letter by hand,
please send it to:


The Honorable Ron Johnson
517 East Wisconsin Avenue
Suite 408
Milwaukee, WI 53202


If you are collecting many letters to send off to the senator, please share a photo of your effort on social media. Use the hashtags #AnswerRonJohnson and #WeAreVapor




(Writing Tip #1) If you have a lot to say, please craft your email in a separate word doc and then copy/paste it into the field provided.  If you take too long, they system will time out and you will lose your work.
(Writing Tip #2) Although we've provided a prewritten email with compelling talking points, we would strongly encourage you to edit the email because personalized communications to legislators are far more persuasive than form letters.  At a minimum, PLEASE INCLUDE YOUR PERSONAL STORY (just a few sentences) in the text of your email.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

CASAA launches Kansas City Chapter



CASAA is pleased to announce the formation of our first chapter. Passionate and dedicated tobacco harm reduction advocates in Kansas City have stepped forward and volunteered to establish this pilot chapter.

“CASAA chapters will help our membership to become more significantly involved in our mission,” said CASAA’s Legislative Coordinator Alex Clark. “Effectively sharing information about the public health benefits associated with smokers switching to low-risk alternatives is vital to achieving our policy goals. We are grateful to our Kansas City CASAA members for their willingness to take on this exciting project.”

Kansas City CASAA’s mission is to more effectively inform and engage consumers in the Kansas City metropolitan area and to reach out to legislators, policymakers, and the general public to share information about vapor products and other low-risk alternatives to smoking.

“We are honored that Kansas City will be CASAA’s first chapter. We have a lot of challenges ahead, but we are hopeful that we can begin to change the perception of vapor products and help people understand the incredible promise they hold for smokers. Education at the local level is a critical part of our fight to keep these products available,” notes Kansas City CASAA’s President, Bert Brown.

For more information about Kansas City CASAA:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CASAAKC/

Sunday, July 17, 2016

PA - Take action to oppose a 40 percent wholesale tax on vapor products.




[Update - 07.17.16]


On Wednesday, July 13th, 2016, the Pennsylvania legislature chose to protect the state’s cigarette tax revenue stream by voting to pass HB 1198 -- the revenue half of Pennsylvania’s budget -- without removing a disastrous tax on vapor products.




HB 1198 (now Act No. 84), Article 12-A requires retailers to pay an outrageous 40% tax on the purchase price of all vapor products -- devices and liquids. Part of implementing this tax includes a 40% floor tax (§1203-A) on any products on the shelves of vapor retailers on October 1st, 2016. This bill also enacts a new 55¢/oz tax on smokeless tobacco.


Here are some important dates and points to remember regarding this new tax:


  • This tax is imposed on ALL vapor products, which includes devices, nicotine liquids, and non-nicotine liquids.
  • A consumer who purchases vapor products from an unlicensed dealer over the internet or through the mail is liable for paying a tax of 40% of the retail price. Anyone who possesses “tobacco products” for which the tax has not been paid commits a summary offense which can result in fines and up to 30 days in jail (Section 1207-A(a)).
  • Manufacturers, Distributors, and Retailers must obtain licenses from the state in order to sell products in Pennsylvania.
  • Retailers must purchase products from licensed distributors or wholesalers.
  • The effective date of the tax is October 1st, 2016
  • Payment of the floor tax is due by December 30th, 2016 (90 days after the effective date)
  • Failure by any party to pay the required tax could result in hefty fines or up to five years in prison.


Although there is time built into the implementation of Article 12-A for some retailers to cover the floor tax, there will be many in Pennsylvania that find this tax to be insurmountable. Moreover, consumers in Pennsylvania will see a dramatically diminished cost advantage that vapor products once had over cigarettes. In turn, more smokers are likely to continue smoking and it is likely that some vapers will return to cigarettes.


The effect of this tax on consumers will be both an increase in purchase price and a noticeable decline in the variety of products.


  1. This tax will most likely be passed along directly to consumers and will make it difficult for retailers in border counties to remain competitive with vapor shops just over the state line. Consumers can expect to pay anywhere from $4.00 to $6.00 more for a 30ml bottle of e-liquid.
  2. The aforementioned difficulty that vapor retailers will have in competing with cigarettes and retailers just over the state line means that many will be facing the prospects of closing their doors. For consumers this means a loss of variety and in many cases will mean a loss of access to advanced or specialty vapor products.


Vapor industry advocates in Pennsylvania have described this tax as unworkable. CASAA agrees with this analysis both as it relates to businesses and consumers. In the coming months, we will be working cooperatively with groups in Pennsylvania as well as national organizations to find a tenable solution. However, the fact that the legislature left a proposal on the table that would have allowed hundreds of PA vapor businesses to remain open, providing jobs, sales tax revenue, and life-saving products to hundreds of thousands of residents is astonishing. It is a sickening consideration that many in Pennsylvania will be forced to suffer the consequences of the legislature’s lack of vision before any meaningful change to this law is made.