Thursday, January 22, 2015

Alaska Call to Action: Two bills have been introduced that threaten to ban vaping wherever smoking is banned!

Alaska Senator Peter Micciche (R-Soldotna) has again introduced a bill (SB 1) that would ban vaping by including it within Alaska’s definition of “smoking.” This provision is tucked inside a larger bill that would significantly expand Alaska’s existing statewide smoking restrictions. If this bill passes, bars, restaurants and workplaces throughout Alaska will no longer be able to decide for themselves whether to allow or disallow vaping.  


Last year, a bill nearly identical to SB 1 was introduced and made its way through two Senate committees before stalling in the Senate Finance Committee.  Unlike last year’s bill, SB 1 includes an exemption for vape shops.  However, SB 1 still deceitfully redefines “smoking” to include the use of a smoke-free product and needlessly makes vaping in indoor and outdoor environments a fineable offense.


** SB 1 has been assigned to the Senate Health and Social Services Committee.  At this time, no hearing has been scheduled.  We will update this Call to Action as we learn more.


In the Alaska House, Representative Bob Herron (D-Bethel) has introduced a bill (HB 40) to add “using an e-cigarette” to Alaska’s definition of “smoking.”  In contrast to SB 1, HB 40 would not expand Alaska’s existing smoking ban. It is not only wrong to define the use of a smoke-free product as “smoking,” but any future changes to Alaska’s smoking ban would automatically also include vaping.


Please take action now to oppose both of these bills:

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

CASAA Launches Its Weekly Podcast: CASAA Podcast January 19, 2015

As part of CASAA's continuing commitment to share information with the community, we are producing weekly podcasts, typically 5-15 minutes in length. Hosted by CASAA's Jan Johnson, these podcasts will focus on current issues of interest to THR advocates and vapers, including legislative issues, current Calls to Action, and more. You can expect CASAA's Legislative Director, Alex Clark, to be a frequent guest.

Podcasts will be recorded each Monday evening, and we will make every effort to have podcasts posted the next morning. CASAA podcasts are free to use and share.

The first CASAA Podcast Update January 19, 2015:




Montgomery County, MD: (Discussion begins at 0:24) Indoor use ban, child-resistant packaging, and ban on sales to minors. Hearing scheduled for Thursday, January 22, 2015 at 7:30 PM (must sign up to speak by 10:00 a.m. on the 22nd).

Montana: (Discussion begins at 1:19) Hearing on SB 66 (ban on sales to minors with language defining e-cigarettes as tobacco products) occurred January 19, 2015. Bill still in committee, and Call to Action will be updated as more information becomes available.

Indiana: (Discussion begins at 3:12) Call to Action updated to include indoor use ban.

Oregon: (Discussion begins at 4:00) Call to Action to be issued soon.

New Orleans, LA: (Discussion begins at 5:45) Includes a discussion about how everything being done to smokers is now being done to vapers and why it doesn't make sense to throw smokers under the bus.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Local Call to Action: Two Florida Cities, Delray Beach and Vero Beach, are moving to prohibit indoor use of e-cigarettes.




Delray Beach:


Tomorrow, TUESDAY, January 20th, at 6:00 PM, the City Council will meet and hear public comments regarding Ordinance 0-15 which would amend the city code to include indoor use regulations for e-cigarettes.  Although the current ordinance exempts vapor retail shops and a few other indoor places as stipulated in the Florida’s indoor clean air law, thousands of other workplaces will be forced to prohibit vaping possibly against the will of business owners.


If you are a Delray Beach resident please attend this meeting and voice your opposition to this ordinance:  
100 Northwest 1st Avenue
Delray Beach, FL
(561) 243-7000


If you are unable to attend or live outside of Delray Beach, please see the talking points below and send an email to the entire city council:


glickstein@mydelraybeach.com, petrolia@mydelraybeach.com, jarjura@mydelraybeach.com, frankel@mydelraybeach.com, jacquet@mydelraybeach.com






Vero Beach:


Last year, residents successfully defeated an ordinance that would have limited adult access to flavored vapor products in Vero Beach.  This year, the city is considering an indoor use ban on these products.  Tomorrow, TUESDAY, January 20th, at 6:00 PM, the City Council will hold a “first reading” of a proposed ordinance that would limit where e-cigarettes can be used.  Although there may not be an opportunity for public comment, Vero Beach residents are encouraged to attend:
1053 20th Place 
Vero Beach, FL 32960


In the interim, please see the talking points below and contact the city council urging them to oppose this ordinance:
Phone:  772-978-4700 




SUGGESTED TALKING POINTS


  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. 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 in the city, 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 cigarttes 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 that what IS proposed is still a step backward in public health, not a step forward.


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


CASAA Logo.jpg

CASAA Call to Action: Montgomery Co., Maryland - Indoor Use Ban




(Update - 1/23/15) - There was no vote taken on this ordinance during Thursday night's meeting. At this time, we are gathering information and will provide an update as details emerge. A Health and Human Services Committee work session is currently scheduled for 1/29/15.
-

On November 25th, 2014, Montgomery County Council Vice President Leventhal and Council members Floreen, Branson, and Navarro introduced Bill 56-14.  A hearing is scheduled for Thursday, January 22nd, 2015 before Montgomery County Council at 7:30 PM. *If you plan to testify, you must sign up by 10:00 AM on the 22nd.  The location is Council Office Building, 100 Maryland Avenue, 5th Floor, Rockville, MD 20850.


If enacted, this bill would:
  • Prohibit the use of electronic cigarettes in most public places (vape shops are exempted)
    • In general, and given the lack of evidence that would suggest e-cigarette use may be harmful to bystanders, CASAA feels that business owners should have the right to set their own “vaping policy.”  **Please see the talking points below.


  • Require child-resistant packaging of liquid nicotine containers
    • Although CASAA is generally supportive of child-resistant packaging, this issue would be more appropriate for federal lawmakers.  Enacting packaging laws at the county level, let alone at the state level, presents a potential hurdle for interstate commerce and may impact consumer choice.  If Montgomery Co. Council must pursue this measure, it should clearly be in line with federal standards.


  • Prohibit the use of electronic cigarettes by minors
    • It should be noted that legislation (SB 7) has been introduced at the state level to ban sales of e-cigarettes to minors.  CASAA supports prohibiting sales to minors.


This bill can be salvaged.  Maryland residents have already defeated similar indoor use bans at the State level in both 2010 and 2014 (bills died in committee), as well as at the municipal levels in Prince Georges County in 2013 (in the form of tabling the bill) and in Baltimore City in 2014 (in the form of a compromise).






**What to say:


1.  You are a Montgomery County- DC  metro-area or Maryland resident and while you support bans on sales to minors, you oppose banning e-cigarette use where smoking is prohibited. (If you are responding to this Local Alert and are not a state resident, please mention any connection you have to the area, for example, you travel to Montgomery County on business, vacation or have friends/family in the area.)
2.  Tell your story on how switching to an e-cigarette has changed your life.  
3.  Clarify that:


a.  Smoking bans are 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.


b.  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.


c.  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.


d.  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 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.


e.  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%.

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

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Indiana Call to Action: Multiple Indiana bills would threaten access to and use of e-cigarettes.

(Updated 1/21/2015)

Indiana Senator Brandt Hershman has introduced a bill (SB 384) that would impose a tax on nicotine contained in e-cigarette liquid.  Although the tax rate, $0.0083 per mg of nicotine, may seem modest, the imposition of any taxes on vapor products beyond state sales tax sends the dangerous and false message to smokers that use of these products is risky or harmful.  Adoption of this bill will also set a dangerous precedent, as it is always easier for politicians to raise a preexisting tax than it is to pass a new tax.  


Representative Clyde Kersey has introduced a bill (HB 1169) that alters the state’s definition of “smoking” to include “...inhalation or exhalation of vapors from an electronic cigarette.”  Despite the long list of exemptions to Indiana’s smoking law, HB 1169 does not amend any of them to account for local brick and mortar shops.  Regardless of any language along these lines that may develop, CASAA opposes this bill on the grounds that defining “vaping” as “smoking” is a deliberate misrepresentation that harms public awareness of the benefits these products offer to adult smokers.


[UPDATE 1/21/15]
Two identical bills, SB 539 and HB 1432, have been introduced in the Indiana Legislature that threaten to overregulate the manufacturing of e-liquid products.  These bills would prohibit the sale of any e-liquid product -- including those manufactured outside the state -- unless it is produced by a company that has procured a manufacturer’s license from the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission (ACT). Not only does this license cost $5,000, but the conditions that must be met to receive the license are unrealistic and present a substantial barrier for small- and medium-sized businesses throughout Indiana. Ultimately, these bills will severely limit consumer access to the variety of e-liquid manufactured outside the state and potentially shut down retailers and manufacturers in Indiana.

Please take action now to oppose these bills:


**Please note: We are currently monitoring additional legislation in Indiana.  A punitive and destructive 24% wholesale tax has been proposed.  However, no bill has been introduced nor has draft language been made available.  As soon as we have details we will issue an update to this Call to Action.

(Update 1/21/15) We are also aware of HB 1235, which is another attempt to prohibit indoor use, impose punitive taxes, and limit consumer access by not allowing businesses to sell tobacco (including e-cigarettes) if there is a pharmacy on the premises.  Our assessment is that the scope of this bill is so unreasonable (some provisions include allowing employers to discriminate against nicotine users) that it will not pose a credible threat.  However, we will continue to monitor HB 1235 and update this Call to Action should the need arise.

Monday, January 12, 2015

New York Call To Action: NY State Bills threaten consumer choice and subject e-cigarettes to tobacco taxes

(Updated 01.14.2015)

Once again, vapers in New York State are being threatened by multiple bills intended to severely impact the electronic cigarette industry and, by extension, dramatically limit consumer choice and increase the cost of these potentially life-saving products.  Representatives Rosenthal and Dinowitz and Senator Rivera have introduced bills that would impose a punitive 75% wholesale tax on “e-cigarette cartridges” and completely ban the sale of refill liquids.

Assembly Bill 296 & Senate Bill 722 would redefine a taxed “tobacco product” to include “e-cigarette cartridges,” subjecting them to New York State’s 75% wholesale tax on “tobacco products.”

The keen observer may spot that AB 296 & SB 722 only apply to “e-cigarette cartridges” and not e-cigarette liquid.  This is likely due to the introduction, yet again, of a bill (AB 635) to prohibit the sale of all bottled refill liquids.  While there is an exemption provided for instate manufactures that may allow liquid manufacturers in New York to continue doing business, vapers in New York State would still be unable to buy e-liquid products from retailers within the state.  An almost identical bill made its way through an Assembly committee last year.  

[Update - 01.14.2015]
As we anticipated, Assemblywoman Rosenthal has introduced Assembly Bill 1496 which would alter the state’s definition of “smoking” to to ban e-cigarette use under the state’s smoke-free air law.

Please take action NOW to oppose these bills.


CURRENT STATUS OF THESE BILLS


**Please note, at this time, there are no hearings scheduled for any of these bills.  They have been introduced and referred to committees.  We will update this call to action as details arise.  We are also anticipating another attempt at prohibiting indoor use.


There is currently a fourth bill (AB 852) which is identical to SB 7139 from the 2014 session.  The purpose of this bill is to require vapor retailers to register with the Department of Health, thereby making them subject to compliance checks to insure retailers are adhering to the state law prohibiting sales to minors.  As this bill does not amend any definitions or propose new rules that might subject vapor products and retailers to damaging tobacco regulations, CASAA is currently taking a neutral position.  However, we will continue to monitor AB 853 as it moves through the legislative process and update this call to action if things change.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Montana Call to Action! SB 66 Would Redefine E-Cigarettes as "Tobacco Products"

(Updated - 01.15.2015)

Montana SB 66 seeks to prohibit the sale of e-cigarettes to minors.  Although CASAA is generally supportive of legislation that restricts access to these products by minors, the wording of the current bill carelessly and inappropriately confuses low-risk smoke-free e-cigarettes with combustible tobacco cigarettes by referring to these products as “electronic smoking devices” and including them in the state’s definition of “tobacco products.” We believe this could have far-reaching negative consequences and would set a terrible precedent for future legislation.

A hearing on SB 66 will be held before the Business, Labor, and Economic Affairs Committee on Monday, January 19th at 8:00 AM in Room 422 of the Capitol Building at 1301 East 6th Avenue in Helena, MT 59601.

(Update) 
We have refreshed our campaign for this issue so that all Montana residents can send a message to committee members.

  • To take action now, please click here.  
  • For full committee contact info (phone numbers and email) please see here.


Saturday, January 3, 2015

Legislative Preview for 2015

2015 Legislative Preview


By the middle of next week, 19 states will have begun their 2015 legislative sessions.  By the end of January, all but 6 states will be in session.  We’d like to take this opportunity to prepare you for what is shaping up to be a very, very busy year for Tobacco Harm Reduction advocates.


STATES:
  • Taxes
  • Child Resistant Packaging
  • Labeling Requirements
  • Restrictions on Sales to Minors
  • Online Sales Restrictions/Bans
  • Place Bans


FEDERAL:
  • FDA Deeming Regulation
  • Child Resistant Packaging


Many states are focusing on e-cigarettes as a source to make up for revenue shortfalls.  At the moment, we are looking at eight states with nine prefiled or draft bills that would impose a sin tax on e-cigarettes:


  • New Mexico: SB 65
  • Utah: Governor’s Budget Proposal
  • Nevada: SB 79, Draft Bill 307
  • Oregon: Draft Bill 1037, Draft Bill 2268
  • Washington: Governor’s Budget Proposal & Draft Bill
  • Indiana: Draft Bill (Rep. Ron Bacon)
  • New York: AB 296 (same language as last year’s AB 8594)
  • Virginia: HB 1310


CASAA takes a zero-tolerance position on imposing any taxes (other than a simple sales tax that consumer products are generally subject to) on vapor products.  This is worth noting as there have been instances where it’s been suggested that a small tax on vapor products might be an appropriate concession that might convince lawmakers to reconsider other damaging legislation.  We want to be clear:  Sin taxes are not a bargaining chip.  They are inappropriate for this product category, and once the language is in the code, lawmakers will face little resistance when they decide to raise the tax to a more punitive level.


Not surprisingly, another issue that states will be focusing on is child-resistant packaging (CRP).  Although CASAA is generally supportive of CRP in the sense that it is a responsible practice and all manufactures should take steps to protect consumers, we are cautious when considering legislative solutions to this issue.  As a general rule, CRP regulation at the federal level would be preferable to a patchwork of different state laws.  (Too many different state and local laws will make it difficult for products to cross state lines, reducing consumer access.) However, federal solutions tend to come more slowly, and so we expect that states will be proposing their own solutions.


We are currently discussing how best to approach this issue and will be building a list of “talking points” for advocates to use when communicating with lawmakers.  We are interested in working with lawmakers to craft CRP regulations that are in line with existing federal laws to promote uniformity among the various states.  But, perhaps more importantly, we recognize the role of the consumer in this discussion as they have the ability to directly influence manufacturing practices by electing to shop with responsible vendors.  


  • Washington: Draft Bill
  • California: SB 24
  • Missouri: HB 147


Labeling requirements, much like CRP, are best dealt with at the federal level.  We saw a few attempts to impose labeling requirements for e-cigarettes last year and each was defeated.  Again, from a consumer standpoint, we are concerned about the effects of a patchwork of state laws as well as inappropriate labeling requirements crafted by those who oppose e-cigarette use as a low-risk alternative to smoking.


Restrictions on sales to minors will also be an issue in several states.  In the 9 states that have not yet banned sales to minors, we expect such bills to be introduced.  In the 41 states that have already implemented youth access laws, we expect some to take action to expand those laws. Again, although CASAA is generally supportive of age restrictions, we approach these bills with caution.  Last year in states such as New Mexico, Massachusetts, and Oregon, “public health” groups successfully lobbied lawmakers to delay imposing bans on sales to minors and to hold out for future bills with unrelated  provisions like taxes, usage bans, and tobacco classification. We will continue to push for lawmakers to enact clean bills that simply ban sales to minors without unnecessarily restricting adult access. We expect that bans, burdensome restrictions on online sales, and possibly advertising restrictions will also be part of some of these discussions.   


  • Washington: Draft Bill
  • California: SB 24
  • Indiana: Draft Bill (Rep. Ron Bacon)
  • Montana: Draft Bill 66, Draft Bill 245
  • North Dakota: HB 1078
  • New Mexico: SB 42
  • Texas: HB 81, HB 170, & SB 97


Place bans are also creeping into state legislation this year.  While we saw indoor (and some outdoor) use bans pass in cities from New York City  to Los Angeles last year, advocates have been very successful in beating back these bills at the state level. Nonetheless, we expect to see many states consider similar measures in 2015.  


  • Kentucky: Board Resolution 127
  • Indiana: Draft Bill (Reps Ed Clere, Charlie Brown)


At both the State and Federal level, we expect to see more posturing on the issue of “characterizing flavors.”  Although only one state (Washington) thus far has included language addressing flavors, the topic is likely to be brought up ad nauseum in the media and by a few outspoken members of congress.  We are also monitoring the progress of an ordinance in New York City that would prohibit the sale of flavored e-cigarettes. Whether or not this will make its way into any meaningful legislation this year has yet to be seen, but we feel it worth mentioning.


The FDA is expected to finalize Deeming Regulations for New Tobacco Products this year.  The FDA has placed a self-imposed deadline of some time in June.   However, before anything is finalized, The Office of Management and Budget (OMB)/The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) will need to review the final regulations.  Our current Call to Action regarding the FDA is linked below.  For more background on the Deeming Regulations, please see our FDA Calls to Action and our comment on the docket.


Currently, there is a bill in the US Senate that addresses child-resistant packaging for e-liquids (https://www.congress.gov/bill/113th-congress/senate-bill/2581/text).  The purpose of S. 2581 is “[t]o require the Consumer Product Safety Commission to promulgate a rule to require child safety packaging for liquid nicotine containers, and for other purposes.”   As with all things nicotine and tobacco related, there are nuances to consider, and we will be keeping an eye on this bill as it moves along.


We are also monitoring the progress of a Modified Risk Tobacco Product Application filed by Swedish Match.  CASAA has submitted a comment which you can read on our blog.  If you are unfamiliar with this subject, our Chief Scientific Officer, Dr. Carl Phillips, has provided background and information here.


What you can do to help


We have spent the past year developing connections with concerned consumers and professionals with experience in legislative affairs.  However, the success of our efforts still hinges on participation. Among the most important things advocates can do right now is to spread the word.  Tell your friends to join CASAA, help promote our current calls to action, and share this post with everyone you know who enjoys e-cigarettes and reduced-risk tobacco products.

As the 2015 legislative sessions move forward, we will work diligently to update our membership as to the introduction and progress of legislation that might threaten our access to, and enjoyment of,  low-risk alternatives to smoking.