Thursday, July 6, 2017

Comment on FDA's unreasonable smokeless tobacco rule - DUE by July 10th!

The deadline for commenting on an FDA rule regarding product standards for smokeless tobacco (ST) is Monday, July 10th, 2017.

By way of background, the FDA published a rule for public comment on January 23, 2017 regarding a proposed standard for N-nitrosonornicotine (NNN) levels in ST products. The proposed limit for NNN concentration would be 1ppm of dry weight. Although some products do exist that would meet this arbitrary standard, the vast majority range somewhere between 1ppm and 10ppm.

Imposing a cap on NNN concentration at 1ppm of dry weight would:
  • Not result in a significant risk reduction. Any reduction in risk associated with forcing NNN levels to be reduced is likely to be zero and will be more than offset by the cost to consumers of limiting choice and destroying the diversity in the marketplace of these already incredibly low-risk products.
  • Set an unreasonable standard that most products--even if they were reformulated--would not be able to meet. Much like the PMTA issue with e-cigarettes, this would be a de facto ban on most ST products sold in the United States.
  • Reduce consumer access to the lowest risk tobacco products on the market today. This will have the effect of forcing U.S. consumers to shop overseas (increasing their cost), and for many, may cause them to replace their smokeless habit with smoking.

Take action NOW - Submit a comment!

Choose some points below to add to your comment:
  • Do you use smokeless tobacco as a form of tobacco harm reduction?
    • Do you use smokeless tobacco instead of smoking, or did you quit smoking by switching to smokeless tobacco?
    • Do you use smokeless tobacco in places where you cannot vape?
  • How important is the variety of smokeless tobacco products to you?
    • Are you “brand loyal” or do you benefit from being able to use different types of smokeless tobacco?
    • Do you know if your preferred brand will be able to meet this 1ppm of dry weight standard? (see this chart for reference)
  • What will you do if you are unable to purchase smokeless tobacco in the United States?
    • Do you think you would return to smoking?
    • Will you shop online, overseas?
  • For more information:
    • Comment from Reason Foundation here.
    • Dr. Brad Rodu provides background and insights here, with links to other comments on the rule.
    • Dr. Carl Phillips has provided an in-depth analysis in a three part series here, here, and here.

* You are commenting on a publicly viewable docket on Any personal information you provide in your comment will be publicly available. The information you provide to CASAA in order to complete this engagement will not appear on

Saturday, May 20, 2017

San Francisco, CA - Local Alert - Help us stop the flavor ban!

(Update - 05.20.17)
CASAA has received word that the flavor ban ordinance will be on the calendar for

Wednesday, June 14th, 2017
10:30 AM

For the May 24th meeting, this ordinance (170441) is on the agenda under the “30 day rule” section. This means that the legislation will not be considered and no action will be taken at this meeting.

That being the case, NOW is the time to prepare your remarks AND make contact with members of the public safety committee.

Take Action - Send a Message!

(Original Post - 05.18.17)
San Francisco Supervisor, Malia Cohen is introducing an ordinance that would ban the sale of flavored tobacco and vapor products. The first opportunity for this ordinance to be heard in committee will be on
Wednesday, May 24th, 2017
10:30 AM
Public Safety and Neighborhood Services Committee

We need to stress that this is not a confirmed hearing and we will provide an update with any change. At this time, Supervisor Cohen’s flavor ban is not on a posted agenda.

In advance of a hearing, NOW is the time to reach out to city supervisors and urge them to oppose this ordinance.

Take Action - Send a Message!

In advance of any hearing, please take this time to prepare your remarks to the committee.
  • Plan to speak for 3 minutes or less & Practice your presentation.
  • State how long you were a smoker, how long you’ve been smoke free, and how vapor products helped you.
  • How important are e-liquid flavors to you remaining smoke free.
    • Did flavored products help you lose your taste for smoking?
    • Did the variety of flavored e-liquid inspire you to give vaping a try?
  • What would you do if flavored e-liquid was no longer available?
    • Would you make your own?
    • Would you purchase outside the city/state?
    • Would you feel pressured to return to smoking?
  • Review the Meeting Info Guide here.

San Francisco is one of several municipalities in California that are considering prohibiting the sale of flavored vapor products. This is a policy movement and it is a very real threat. We know that proponents of these bans are well funded and have the support of respected organizations. That said, there is no reason to think that “it can’t happen here.”

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Help us send letters to HHS Sec. Tom Price - #DelayFDA

Earlier in March, CASAA, AVA, SFATA, and VTA sent a joint letter to House leaders urging them to support HR 1136, which would modernize the 2007 predicate date for vapor products newly deemed to be tobacco by the FDA. In keeping with the spirit of cooperation, we are working together again to generate messages to HHS Secretary Tom Price with the engagement below. If you own or manage a vapor shop, please find a space to provide this opportunity to your customers.

The letter we are providing urges Secretary Price to delay implementation of the FDA deeming regulations. Without this delay, many in the vapor industry will begin closing down their operations. If action is not taken soon, consumers will be losing access to reliable, affordable, life-saving vapor products.

CASAA is reaching out to vapor retailers and providing a partially pre-written letter with lots of blank space that can be offered to your customers. Handwritten letters, phone calls, and in-person meetings have the most impact on policy makers. It is vital that Secretary Price receives as many letters as possible so that he understands the impact that the deeming regulations will have on millions of Americans.

How to set up:

  1. You’ll need some supplies.
    1. Download and print the letter - click here for the PDF file.
    2. Envelopes
    3. Stamps
    4. A pen (maybe a few pens)
    5. Clipboard (optional)
  2. Hopefully, you have a space in your shop for people to stand or sit and write.
  3. Print one of these handy flyers we made to promote the letter writing campaign
    1. click here.
    2. or here

How to follow through:

Here is the address for HHS Secretary Price:
Honorable Thomas E. Price, M.D.
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
Hubert H. Humphrey Building
200 Independence Avenue, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20201
  • Put the letter(s) in an envelope.
    • You can send individual stamped envelopes with your customers’ return address on them or;
    • Put a bunch of letters in one package.
  • Affix postage and pop it in the mail.

And that’s it!
Thank you for helping your customers’ voices be heard.
If you have any questions, please send an email to

Help us send letters to HHS Secretary Tom Price

urging him to delay all FDA Deeming deadlines!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Local Alert - Forsyth Co., GA - Take action to oppose over regulation of vapor shops

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The Forsyth County Board of Commissioners will be considering an ordinance that would, among other things*, prohibit the use of vapor products inside vapor retail establishments unless they purchase and install unnecessary and expensive filtration systems.

A public hearing has been scheduled for

5:00 PM
Forsyth County Administration Building (Suite 220)

In advance of the public hearing, please take a moment to send a message to county commissioners urging them to oppose this ordinance.

Take Action - Send a Message

Please make plans to attend this hearing.

  • Detailed procedures for public hearings, please click here.
  • Detailed procedures for public comments, please click here.
  • Public testimony will be accepted and comments will be limited to three minutes.
  • Prior to speaking, each speaker must sign up by completing a Public Comment form. Forms are available outside the meeting room at 4:30 p.m. when the doors open. The clerk begins accepting the forms five (5) minutes prior to the announced starting time of the meeting. Should you arrive after the start of the meeting and wish to speak, you must first turn in your completed form to the clerk.
  • Suggested talking points for preparing your comments to oppose indoor vaping restrictions can be found here.

You may also want to reach out to council members individually to share your concerns with this proposed ordinance. You can find contact information here.

* The amended ordinance would include vapor products in the definition of “non-traditional tobacco paraphernalia” and raise the annual licensing fee from $1000 to $2000. This ordinance also sets proximity thresholds for churches and schools of 100 and 200 yards respectively. Approval for a new license will require applicants to pay for surveying to determine the distance of their shop from any churches or schools. There is also a fee associated with a criminal background check. All told, the total cost of acquiring a new license to sell  “non-traditional tobacco paraphernalia” could cost upwards of $3000.

Another provision, Sec. 50-6(h), would require retailers to keep all vapor products out of view of the public in a screened room. This provision is a consequence, although apparently intentional, of redefining “non-traditional tobacco paraphernalia” to include vapor products (rather than giving them a separate designation). Not only does this lack of creativity in regulation conflate vapor products used for nicotine with stigmatized drug delivery devices, but it forces vapor retailers to operate at a disadvantage compared to sellers of “traditional” tobacco 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.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

CASAA Newsletter No. 4 (November 2016)

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November 2016
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Autumn 2016

This instalment of CASAA’s newsletter was originally intended to come out in October. But, we were on an RV traversing the country lending the consumer voice to raising awareness about tobacco harm reduction and the legislative challenges we’ll be facing in 2017. Of course, in the wake of the US general election, we are looking at a significantly different political landscape at the federal level. The changes in our government will likely have a profound impact on regulations that affect our access to vapor products and other low-risk tobacco products.

In advance of the 2017-2018 legislative sessions, CASAA will be co-hosting a webinar with The Cating Group this December. Topics will include a preview of anticipated state legislative threats, the importance of meeting FDA compliance deadlines such as the upcoming registration and product listing requirement, and potential opportunities at the federal level to not only modernize the predicate date, but also to fundamentally change how low-risk alternatives to smoking are regulated. This webinar will be free and open to all. If you know anyone interested in attending, please make sure they are signed up to receive updates from CASAA. They can register here.

2016 Election

2016 marked the inaugural release of CASAA’s Voter Education Guide -- Of more than 1,000 candidates running for US Congress, we received over 130 responses. Although the response to our survey wasn’t as high as we would have liked, it was more than we expected for a first-time effort.

Heading toward mid-term elections in 2018, we will be working to expand our voter guide to include state elections, similar to what our Kansas City chapter put together this year. If you are interested in helping CASAA with this state-level deployment, please contact us at Please include “State CQ” in the subject line.

Several states were faced with ballot initiatives this year that dealt with taxes on vapor products and/or smokeless tobacco. In California, Proposition 56, which was sold to voters as a necessary hike in cigarette taxes, will enact an equivalent tax of 60-70% wholesale on vapor products sold in the state. Even though Prop 56 passed, it is still unclear what the tax rate will be or even how it will be applied. On the other hand, Colorado (Amendment 72) and North Dakota (Measure 4) both voted down ballot initiatives that dealt with taxation of vapor/tobacco products.

Prior to the election, the outlook for the vapor industry appeared grim. However one might feel about the results of the US elections, the consensus is that there is a more visible pathway forward to enact genuinely beneficial regulation that will not stifle innovation or limit diversity. Our task going forward will be to help build these regulations and make sure they are built to last.

Despite the obvious political gains at the federal level, we are still anticipating that many states will move to enact taxes on vapor products as well as impose stiffer regulations. We also continue to be concerned that more state and local public health departments will be spearheading misinformation campaigns that discourage smokers from making the switch and help drive bad legislative and regulatory policy.


With the new White House administration, it is likely that we will see notable changes of key personnel in regulatory agencies. There is no confirmation of this yet, but President-elect Trump signaled late in the campaign that his administration would be working to undo regulations that unfairly restrict small- to medium-sized businesses. Even though this is on the horizon in 2017-2018, the deeming regulations are still at present the law of the land, and vapor businesses should be working toward compliance.

Product registration is a major compliance deadline that is right around the corner in December (the 31st, to be precise). This article by Azim Chowdhury helps explain that process: “FDA's Establishment Registration and Product Listing Deadline is Fast Approaching - Are You Prepared?

If you are receiving updates from the Food and Drug Administration or generally paying attention to breaking news in the vaporsphere, you may have seen the headline “FDA Withdraws Direct Final Rule Describing Acceptance Threshold for Tobacco Product Applications.” Many have misinterpreted this to mean that premarket tobacco approval (PMTA) is no longer necessary. Some have even taken this to mean that the entire deeming rule has been withdrawn. Both of these interpretations are incorrect.

Simply put, the FDA has accepted feedback they received during the comment period for this particular rule. This feedback highlighted not only the unreasonably high standards the agency was setting for submitting a PMTA, but also the fact that submissions with critical errors would not have the opportunity to be corrected. By withdrawing this proposed rule, the FDA is acknowledging the need for the agency to rework this particular stage of the PMTA submission process. Again, the deeming rule that was published on May 10th, 2016 is still in effect, and industry stakeholders should be taking steps to comply if they wish to remain in business.


The Pasadena Public Health Department (PPHD) has received a $1.3 million grant from the CDC for a media campaign that is targeting the city’s minorities and misinforming them about the risks of vapor products. Like other campaigns we’ve seen in the past, the PPHD is trafficking in shame and ridicule in a misguided effort to pressure smokers to quit and to discourage smokers from making the switch to low-risk vaping.

If you would like to review the campaign for yourself, you can do so here. If you would like to share your thoughts with PPHD regarding this campaign, you can send your comments to

Pasadena Public Health Department
1845 N. Fair Oaks Ave
Pasadena, CA 91103

Or call: (626) 744-6014

Please be respectful and focus on your experience with vapor products. If you have family members who are willing to share their perspective on your experience, please encourage them to call or write as well.


The RTV Tour started on October 2nd in Las Vegas, NV. CASAA, along with the American Vaping Association (AVA) and the Smoke-Free Alternatives Association (SFATA), took to the road to spread awareness about vaping and what’s needed in congress to protect our access to vapor products. There are three videos that were produced during the tour with a fourth on the way. Please take a moment to watch and share.

In July, CASAA announced the creation of our first chapter in Kansas City, MO. You can read more about the chapter program here. In September, we announced that Kristin Noll-Marsh, a founding member of CASAA, would be stepping down from the Board of Directors to accept the new position of Chapter Coordinator.

We are excited for both Kristin’s new role and the formation of the Kansas City Chapter. We will be working to develop the program in 2017 in order to establish more chapters around the country.

CASAA’s Testimonials Project, has collected more than 10,000 stories and continues to grow. We are working toward collecting testimonials with more detail so that we can provide state-specific numbers to state and regional advocacy organizations that will assist them in their advocacy efforts.

Exercising your right to vote is vital to any advocacy effort. Engagement from voters carries weight with lawmakers as they consider input on legislation that comes before them. Lawmakers are not able to see how you vote, but they will certainly check to see if you are voting.

Legislative Update

Going into the 2016 election, the clear legislative strategy was to support including predicate date change language in the omnibus budget bill. Many expected the contents of an omnibus spending bill to be decided in early to mid-December. However, the incoming administration and Republican-controlled congress are making a decision to delay this until spring of 2017. As a result, the vehicle for the predicate date change language -- the Cole-Bishop amendment -- is no longer in play. However, there is still value in referencing the language when communicating with lawmakers on this issue.

Although modernizing the predicate date is not likely to happen this year, it is still a necessary step toward developing useful and fair regulation and support for this effort is ongoing. The larger effort will be focused on creating a separate category for low-risk products. With a more sympathetic government, developing this new regulatory regime is now more likely.

The Pennsylvania General Assembly will reconvene on January 3rd. Efforts by advocates in the state to change the tax on vapor products are continuing. Tentatively, a rally has been scheduled for the end of January in Harrisburg. We will share updates as plans for the rally become more solid.

Pennsylvania’s vapor tax took effect on October 1st, 2016. The law now requires retailers to pay a 40% wholesale tax on all vapor products. This tax is collected by licensed wholesalers, distributors, and manufacturers selling direct to retailers. Retailers were also required to take an inventory on October 1st and pay a 40% tax on everything they had in stock. This floor tax is due at the end of December 2016. In addition to the taxes imposed on retailers, consumers purchasing from unlicensed out of state retailers are required to report their purchases to the state and pay a 40% tax on the retail price of what they buy. The report and payment are due at the end of every month following a month during which vapor products were purchased.

Proposition 56, which will impose a tax on vapor products equivalent to the tax on cigarettes, passed by a wide margin. The Board of Equalization will be determining the details of the tax rate and how this new tax will be applied to vapor products.

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36 states allow for pre-filing legislation. Currently, there is no vapor related pre-filed legislation. But, pre-filing periods will begin in nine states in December. You can find a full list of state legislative session start and end dates for 2017 here.


Columbus, OH - Take action to oppose misguided Tobacco (and Vapor) 21 ordinance
Allegheny Co, PA - Take action to oppose an indoor vaping ban

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