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.
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Take Action - Send a Message
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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.
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* 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.

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(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 -- THRvoter.org. 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 takeaction@casaa.org. 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.

FDA


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.

Misinformation


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.

Projects


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.

Chapters
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


National
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.

Pennsylvania
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.

California
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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National


States

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.

Local

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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Monday, October 17, 2016

Local Alert - Philadelphia, PA - City Council is considering imposing a moratorium on new vapor shops.

The Philadelphia Board of Health has “provisionally approved” a regulation regarding tobacco retailing within the city. This regulation would limit the number of “tobacco retailer” licenses to 1 per 1000 residents in a district. The city’s definition of “tobacco retailer” includes vapor shops. Approval of this regulation will effectively impose a moratorium on new vapor shops opening in over 3/4th of the city.

A public hearing will be held on:

Municipal Services Building

Please take action NOW by sending a message to City Council members urging them to oppose this regulation!

Take Action - Send a Message

Existing retailers in the city of Philadelphia should be aware that even if you believe this regulation is a good thing because it will limit your competition, other municipalities have adopted similar ordinances that are later used to reduce the number of licences issued by the city -- there is no distinction between a vapor shop and a bodega that sells cigarettes.

Please make plans to attend this hearing.

We have provided talking points for you to develop your presentation to the board.
Suggested Talking Points - Tobacco Retail License

  1. Because this ordinance will prohibit new vapor shops from opening, it will actually have the effect of protecting the sales of traditional cigarettes as they will still be allowed to be sold in hundreds of locations throughout the city.
  2. Including low-risk, smoke-free products like e-cigarettes in tobacco regulations sends a confusing message to existing smokers that these products are just as harmful as continuing to smoke. We know from a growing body of science that:
    1. these products are 99% less risky than traditional cigarettes,
    2. they are helping more than several million people worldwide to eliminate or reduce their smoking habit
    3. adult awareness of these low-risk, smoke-free alternatives is declining due to confusing laws and misinformation campaigns.
  3. If “licensing” or “registration” is the only way the city feels they can enforce a ban on sales to minors, vapor retailers should be regulated under a separate vapor retailer regulatory scheme. Regulations for tobacco retailers are notably more restrictive due to the risks associated with smoking.



(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, October 15, 2016

Local Alert - Itasca Co., MN - Take action to oppose an indoor vaping ban!

An ordinance that would prohibit vaping in the same places where smoking is currently banned has been approved by the Itasca County Board of Health. This ordinance is moving to a work session with the Board of Commissioners. The work session is scheduled for Tuesday, October 18th, 2016.


This work session is for the purpose of moving this ordinance to a public hearing. CASAA will update this alert when the time and date for public comment is announced.


In the meantime, please take this opportunity to contact your Itasca County Commissioners and urge them to oppose this ordinance.


Take Action - Send a Message


Please also call the main courthouse number to leave a message for all county commissioners:


(218) 327-2847


(For direct numbers to each board member,
please see the county’s contact page here.)

Suggested Talking Points for Your Call
  • (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.