Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Call to Action: New York City is Considering Banning the Sale of Flavored E-Cigarettes and E-Liquids

On October 7, 2014, Councilman Constantinides introduced an ordinance that would ban the sale of flavored e-cigarettes and flavored e-liquids in the five boroughs. As is often the case, flavor bans like this are poorly researched and fail to account for the fact that practically ALL e-liquid is “flavored”. Furthermore, this ordinance fails to carve out an exemption for dedicated vapor shops, allowing sales by tobacco bars only.

In short, this would mean the end of vapor sales in New York City as we know it.  The ordinance has been referred to the Committee on Health, and it is possible (if not likely) that this proposed ordinance will be heard in committee on Thursday, October 23, 2014.  Tri-State area advocates are strongly encouraged to plan to attend. (We will update this Call to Action as additional information becomes available.)

We are asking advocates in the Tri-State area to please contact NYC council members on the Health Committee and thoughtfully express your opposition to this ordinance.

NYC residents can follow the link below to find your council members and contact them directly as well: http://council.nyc.gov/html/members/members.shtml

Residents are encouraged to call and meet with their council members.  Please feel free to contact board@casaa.org for tips and guidence with talking to lawmakers.

Please share this Call to Action with anyone you know who lives or works in New York City.  In fact, share this with anyone you know who might feel inclined to visit the city.  

Participation in this Call to Action is NOT limited to residents of New York City, but if you are not a resident, please edit the letter to share what relationship you may have with New York City (for example, you have family or friends who live there, you plan on visiting, et cetera).

Also, please note that the CQRC campaign sometimes glitches and resets, and, if so, you may lose any edits you make to your email. If you are editing the email, you should consider editing the letter in a word processing program and then copying the final product into the CQRC program.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

CASAA Welcomes Brad Rodu and Igor Burstyn to its Leadership

CASAA is delighted to announce that Professors Brad Rodu and Igor Burstyn have joined its Board of Directors. Anyone interested in CASAA will be familiar with them and their work, but by way of brief introduction:

Brad Rodu is Endowed Chair in Tobacco Harm Reduction Research at the University of Louisville’s James Graham Brown Cancer Center. He has been working on tobacco harm reduction advocacy longer than anyone else, dating back to his landmark 1994 paper in Nature, and has produced an enormous corpus of research studies and other analysis on the topic. He is widely considered the father of the tobacco harm reduction movement.

Igor Burstyn is Associate Professor of Environmental and Occupational Health at the Drexel University School of Public Health. He is an expert in environmental health and research methodology, and has been interested in tobacco harm reduction for almost ten years. His most notable contribution in the field was his systematic review of e-cigarette chemical exposure, which was sponsored by CASAA in 2013.

We cannot imagine better additions to the CASAA leadership than Drs. Rodu and Burstyn.

As part of this reorganization, Carl V Phillips has left the Board of Directors and now serves as CASAA’s Chief Scientific Officer (a cosmetic change of titles from “Scientific Director” to avoid confusion). Don’t worry -- Dr. Phillips’s contributions to CASAA’s work will remain almost unchanged. Upon his departure from the Board, CASAA began paying Phillips a token sum as a consultant. We felt that it was inappropriate to continue to take so much of the time of a top professional in the field without some compensation. While CASAA is unable to pay him or any other member of the leadership what they really deserve for all their hard and valuable work, this is something.

We are certain that those who remember CASAA’s modest origins are excited to see how CASAA has grown, not only in terms of its leadership, but also in terms of its membership, reach, and substantive work. The addition of these two top researchers will further enhance CASAA’s ability to advocate for THR and the consumers who depend on these potentially life-saving alternatives to smoking.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

International Call to Action! Celebrate World Vaping Day by Telling the World Health Organization How E-Cigarettes Have Changed Your Life.

Today, September 18, 2014, is World Vaping Day. We can think of no better way of celebrating World Vaping Day than by sharing our success stories with the World Health Organization (WHO).   

WHO is, to put it mildly, anti e-cigarette and has called for strict regulation of e-cigarettes, including a ban on e-cigarette use in public places. It sees e-cigarettes as challenging the core message of tobacco control and as a threat to WHO's goals of a tobacco-free world.  WHO seems willing to embrace speculative and unsubstantiated concerns about e-cigarettes (including the increasingly discredited gateway theory, namely, that e-cigarette use will lead to non-smokers starting to smoke), but fails to give any weight to the fact that an ever-increasing number of people  have quit smoking (or have substantially reduced their smoking) by using e-cigarettes.  

According to the WHO, we are anecdotes.

And so today, on World Vaping Day, we are asking vapers from across the world to join together in sending a personal message to WHO.  Tell your story and explain how e-cigarette use has changed your life.  Let them know that we are real people, not anecdotes.  (While this Call to Action is being released on World Vaping Day, it will continue indefinitely.)

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

CASAA Comment on NIOSH Proposed Recommendations regarding Workplace Tobacco Use

On September 15, 2014, CASAA filed a comment (Tracking Number1jy-8edy-gzjb) on NIOSH proposed recommendations regarding workplace tobacco use.   The text of the proposed draft Current Intelligence Bulletin that we were commenting on can be found here.  Below is the full text of our comment.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Call to Action! Missouri: Ask Your Legislators to Override Governor Nixon's Veto of SB 841 (Ban on Sales of E-Cigarettes to Minors)

UPDATE:  9/11/14:  Missouri Call to Action successfully concluded.  Thanks to the hard work of Bistate Regional Advocates for Vaping Education (BRAVE), both the Missouri Senate and House have voted to override Governor Nixon's veto of Senate Bill 841. Missouri now joins the majority of states which ban sales of e-cigarettes to minors. 


Last month, Missouri's Governor Nixon was presented with an opportunity to sign into law a common-sense bill that would (1) prohibit sales of vapor products (e-cigarettes) to minors, and (2) clarify that vapor products are not subject to the same taxation or regulation as combustible cigarettes. However, due to pressure from "public health" groups trumpeting ideology over science, Governor Nixon opted to veto SB 841. Thankfully, Missouri has a second chance to bring this bill into law with a "veto session" scheduled for September 10th, 2014.

Missouri vapers need to act NOW to urge their legislators to overturn Governor Nixon's veto of SB 841.  

While SB 841 enjoyed strong bipartisan support when it was passed earlier this year, e-cigarette opponents are pressuring legislators to not challenge Governor Nixon's veto. Their intention is to push for stronger legislation next year that would tax e-cigarettes like combustible cigarettes and ban their use in public places.  They feel that if sales to minors are banned now, that will make it more difficult for them to pursue their anti-e-cigarette agenda next session.  Meanwhile, they appear content to allow Missouri children to continue to purchase e-cigarettes (while at the same time demanding that e-cigarettes be regulated to protect the children).

FIRST, CASAA has issued a new CQ Roll Call Campaign for Missouri vapers to express their views.  CQ Roll Call allows you to send an email directly to the legislators who are in your district.  The following link will take you to the campaign:

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

New claims that e-cigarettes are a gateway to cocaine use are junk science

BALTIMORE, Sept. 3, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A study released today by the New England Journal of Medicine is claimed by the authors and the journal to suggest that e-cigarette use could cause cocaine use. In reality, the study shows no such thing, and the authors and journal are just trying to score political points based on an unimportant technical study of mice with no real-world implications. The study results only suggest that mice dosed with nicotine one day react differently, biologically, to cocaine the next day compared to those who are not. They do not suggest that nicotine use will cause people to seek out or use cocaine.

Carl V. Phillips, PhD, Scientific Director of the Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association (CASAA), observes, "This study tells us little about human biology and nothing at all about real-world human behavior. It does not even measure mouse behavior. The study provides no evidence there is a gateway effect, and there is no reason to believe there is one. Even if there were, this would merely offer one hypothesis about why it happens, and tell us nothing about the real world."

The study, "A molecular basis for nicotine as a gateway drug" by Eric R. Kandel and Denise B. Kandel, looks at changes in the brain chemistry of mice administered artificial doses of drugs under artificial conditions. Even if the study is accurate in itself, it does not provide any information about gateway effects, let alone e-cigarettes specifically. But the authors add an unsupported and alarmist discussion about e-cigarettes to what is otherwise a standard technical paper.

The press release takes the claims even further, misleadingly implying that the study shows e-cigarettes will cause people to use dangerous drugs.

David Nutt, Professor of Neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College, London, told an online discussion group of independent tobacco scientists, "This is another example of journal press offices making routine studies 'news' by distorting the data interpretation."

In the journal press release, the authors are quoted as saying "E-cigarettes may be a gateway to both combustible cigarettes and illicit drugs. Therefore, we should do all we can to protect young people from…the risks of progressing to illicit drugs." But the study does not even provide evidence there is such an effect for the one drug it studied, and it contained nothing related to a possible gateway to combustible cigarettes.

CASAA's Ronald A. Ward Jr., Esq., an expert in criminology, commented, "This is the worst excuse for a gateway argument I have ever seen."

"This is a classic case of someone with a political agenda tacking their opinions onto technical research and trying trick the press into reporting it that way," said CASAA President Julie Woessner. "E-cigarettes as a smoking cessation method are one of the most important public health breakthroughs of this century. But sadly there are those who would prefer that people keep smoking rather than finding a satisfying, very low-risk alternative."

"The authors of the new study seem unaware of the fact that cocaine use peaked long after smoking rates had come down, exactly the opposite of what they predict, and that drug-seeking behavior in the real world is not at all similar to mouse neurobiology," observed Phillips. "Moreover, even if their scientific conclusions are right, and nicotine use slightly increases the effects of cocaine, their political conclusions would still not follow from that. Imagine that a study found that eating apples had this effect. You can be sure that the authors would not be demanding restrictions on apples. This is purely a political agenda, one that is responsible for causing many people to unnecessarily die from smoking."

CASAA (casaa.org), a public health NGO, is the leading representative of American consumers who use or someday might use low-risk smoke-free alternatives to smoking, including e-cigarettes and smokeless tobacco. CASAA is a grassroots consumer membership organization, and is not affiliated with industry and does not represent industry interests.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Call to Action: Michigan Legislators are Considering an Excise Tax on E-Cigarettes

9/19/14 URGENT Update:  SB 1018 is no longer on the agenda for Wednesday, September 24, 2014.  We will continue to update this Call to Action as more information becomes available.  The bill is still in play, and vapers still need to participate in the Michigan Call to Action, especially the CQ Roll Call campaign.

9/18/14  Update:   SB 1018 has been set for a hearing before the Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday, September 24, 2014 at 12:30 pmRoom 210, Farnum Building, 125 W. Allegan Street, Lansing, MI 48933 (Scott Jones, Committee Clerk, 373-5307).  
  • Michigan vapers and harm reduction advocates are strongly encouraged to attend the committee hearing to offer testimony in opposition to SB 1018.  (As a sign of respect, we ask you to please refrain from vaping in the committee room.)
  • If you haven't already, please participate in the Michigan Call to Action below.

Michigan vapers need to act NOW to defeat SB 1018, a proposed "sin tax" on e-cigarettes and treatment of e-cigarettes as "tobacco products."

Earlier this year, RJ Reynolds promoted a small but punitive sin tax on e-cigarettes in North Carolina that was passed quickly and over the objection of consumers. It appears we have a similar situation brewing in Michigan where our information is that RJ Reynolds and Altria are brokering deals between themselves and then quietly lobbying legislators to get the tax passed.  

The large tobacco companies accept the concept of sin taxes and don’t have much of a problem agreeing to them or even actively lobbying for them. Of course, they don’t actually pay the taxes . . . we, the consumers do. Moreover, the tax structure they push favors the cigalikes they produce and imposes a heavier burden on sales of refill liquid, a product the tobacco companies don’t sell.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Call to Action: FDA Comments Survey

NOTE: If you tried to do the survey and were kicked back to the begining (or out) without being able to get to the end, please try again. There was a glitch late Sunday night that may have interrupted your progress with the survey!

On August 8, 2014, the FDA comment period closed. As stated in our Calls to Action, this is not a battle that is going to be won based solely on comments to the proposed regulations. Accordingly, we are going to attack this on several different fronts. Before the draft regulations were published, we had envisioned a single Call to Action with several suggested actions. However, upon seeing the details, we decided the best strategy to effect positive change is to prepare a comprehensive Action Plan which consists of several Calls to Action issued at staggered dates to maximize effectiveness. The Action Plan will include, among other things, Calls to Action with specific requests directed towards members of Congress. To support this massive undertaking, we have subscribed to CQ Roll Call, a program which will help connect our members easily and in a targeted fashion with their state and federal legislators on specifically crafted campaigns we design.

Because the FDA comment site may not post all of your comments and they are particularly difficult to track, we are also doing a survey of the vaping community to collect and officially record the comments made to the FDA. Depending upon participation, this should give CASAA a way to report the true involvement of the community to the media and Congress, along with a way to share your comments directly with them, without the comments submitted by the opposition and the cigar supporters. It will also give CASAA statistics on ways to better reach the vaping community for future actions. This will be compelling information that will help us continue our fight.

This very short survey will be asking just a few, simple questions and for you to copy and paste your confirmation number and your saved submission to the FDA into the survey. Don't worry if you don't have those things saved, just answering the remaining questions will be a great help to us.

When you are done with the survey, please be sure to share a link to the survey with your vaping circles: Facebook groups, Twitter, Google+, vaping forums, Reddit, YouTube videos, and vendors. Please ask any video reviewers and bloggers you know to also share the link.

NOTE: Results of this survey will be shared online, so please remove any personal information from your comment before submitting it to us.

Thank you for your assistance!

Click HERE to submit your comment to the CASAA survey.

You can see the results of the survey and read the comments HERE.

Friday, August 8, 2014

CASAA Submits Comment to FDA on Behalf of Consumers Regarding FDA Proposed Deeming Regulation

Last night, CASAA submitted its comment on behalf of consumers in connection with the FDA's proposed deeming regulation.  Following are a few highlights from the 53-page comment:

  • The proposed regulation is a de facto ban of more than 99% of the e-cigarette products currently on the market (something in the order of 100,000), creating an enormous cost to consumers.  In fact, the proposed regulation comes remarkably close to being all costs--very substantial ones--with no benefits.
    • The paperwork burdens are not about actual health, safety, or quality control issues and really provide no benefit to consumers.
    • The only products that will be able to successfully navigate the approval process will likely be the cigalike devices produced by the largest manufacturers.
  • The proposed regulation and accompanying publications by FDA are misleading, arbitrary and capricious for numerous reasons, and thus are not a legitimate basis for rulemaking.
    • The stated scientific background and impact analysis are fraught with omissions, bias, and errors.
    • The proposed regulation does not meet FDA’s own standards for showing that there will be a net public health benefit, and, in fact, there is overwhelming reason to believe the net public health effects will be negative.
  • For decades, it has been considered an ethical and political mandate for stakeholders to have a seat at the table in FDA rulemaking.  Yet consumers have been excluded from such a seat in the process.  
    • The slot on the TPSAC committee supposedly reserved for a consumer representative has been occupied by advocates who are not only not consumers of the products or representatives therefore, but whose political goals include eliminating consumption of the products, the diametric opposite of representing consumer interests.
    • Part of the explanation for FDA's apparent lack of understanding about the role e-cigarettes and other tobacco products play in consumers lives, as well as what will actually happen if these regulations are implemented, is the lack of consumer involvement in the process.
  • Consumers are better served by the current marketplace than they would be by the marketplace that would be created by the proposed deeming regulation.
  • If FDA wishes to do what is best for consumers, the primary stakeholders, it needs to either remove e-cigarettes from the proposed deeming or completely withdraw the proposed deeming regulation. FDA should then ask Congress to provide enabling legislation that would allow for genuinely beneficial regulation of e-cigarettes.
  • If FDA insists on moving forward with this type of devastating legislation, it is morally and legally obligated to:
    • Revise its scientific analysis so that it is complete, accurate, and unbiased;
    • Revise its impact analysis so that it actually assesses all of the impacts;
    • Assess and report the predictable real effects of the regulation (e.g., black markets);
    • Complete and report an analysis of the full public health effects of the regulation;
    • Include consumer representatives in the rulemaking process; and
    • Eliminate the unequal treatment of different social classes by giving "premium e-cigarettes" the same consideration granted to premium cigars.
While commenting on the proposed regulation is, of course, an important step in our fight against the deeming regulation, it is by no means our last.  We will be issuing a CQ Roll Call campaign in the next week directed at members of Congress as we continue with CASAA's Action Plan.

You may download and read CASAA's comment to the FDA here: http://casaa.org/uploads/CASAA-FDA-Comment-8-7-14.pdf

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Podcast: CASAA Director Jan Johnson on "How and Why YOU Should Submit A Comment to the FDA"

CASAA has been producing and posting FDA Alerts and Calls to Action since before the proposed regulations were released. For a full background on this issue, please go here:

For instructions on how to submit your comment to the FDA, please go here: