Friday, July 27, 2012

Massachusetts Call to Action on E-Cigarette Tax Bill

UPDATE (9/5/2012): The formal legislative season has concluded in Massachusetts.  No action was taken on this bill.  Letters, e-mails, and phone calls are no longer required.  CASAA thanks those who reached out.

Massachusetts Bill H.4291
(link:
http://www.mass.gov/legis/journal/desktop/Current%20Agenda%202011/H4291.pdf)
would change Massachusetts' definition of 'smokeless tobacco' for tax purposes to include electronic cigarettes and dissolvable tobacco. 

This bill would also:

Increase the MA smokeless tobacco tax rate from 90% to 110% of wholesale price, and also tax electronic cigarettes and dissolvables at 110% of wholesale price.

The bill has been introduced by the Massachusetts legislature's Joint Committee on Heath Care Financing as a substitute amendment to H2452, which has been referred to Joint Committee on Rules.


Please call, write or fax the members of the Joint Committee on Rules below.

What to say:
1. You oppose H.4291 because it would redefine the state's definition of "smokeless tobacco" to include new life-saving products like smoke-free electronic cigarettes.

2. Tell your story on how switching to an e-cigarette or smokeless tobacco has changed your life.

3. Explain that the purpose of increasing cigarette taxes has been to cover governmental healthcare expenditure caused by smoking and to discourage smoking.  But since electronic cigarettes, dissolvables and smokeless tobacco products are 98-99% less hazardous than cigarettes, there is no fiscal or public health justification for such a hefty tax.

4. Point out that this bill also would tax "any component, part, or accessory" of e-cigarettes (e.g. hardware, batteries, rechargers, etc.), regardless of whether it contains nicotine.  This would be the unfair equivalent of taxing items such as matches, cigarette lighters, ashtrays, etc. at the same rate as cigarettes.

5. Since many/most e-cigarette sales are made online, enactment of this legislation would devastate brick-and-mortar e-cigarette retailers in MA and destroy e-cigarette companies in MA, as they could no longer compete against out-of-state and international online suppliers.

6. Many smokers who switch to less hazardous electronic cigarettes do so because e-cigarettes are less expensive than cigarettes.  Increasing the costs of e-cigarettes to that of cigarettes would discourage many smokers from switching to  e-cigarettes.  It could also encourage some e-cigarette consumers to go back to cigarette smoking.


Senate Members

Frederick E. Berry (Senate Chair) (D)
Phone: 617-722-1410
Fax: 617-722-1347
Email: Frederick.Berry@masenate.gov

Karen Spilka (Senate Vice Chair) (D)
Phone: 617-722-1640
Fax: 617-722-1077
Email: Karen.Spilka@masenate.gov

Stephen M. Brewer (D)
Phone: 617-722-1540
Fax: 617-722-1078
Email: Stephen.Brewer@masenate.gov


Jack Hart (D)
Phone:  617-722-1150
email: Jack.Hart@masenate.gov


Michael R. Knapik (R)
Phone: 617-722-1415
Fax: 617-722-1506
Email: Michael.Knapik@masenate.gov
Richard J. Ross (R)
Phone: 617-722-1555
Fax: 617-722-1054
Email: Richard.Ross@masenate.gov

House Members

John J. Binienda (House Chair) (D)
Phone: 617-722-2692
Fax: 617-722-2822
Email: John.Binienda@mahouse.gov

Cory Atkins (House Vice Chair) (D)
Phone: 617-722-2692
Fax: 617-722-2822
Email: Cory.Atkins@mahouse.gov

Byron Rushing (D)
Phone: 617-722-2783
Fax: 617-722-2238
Email: Byron.Rushing@mahouse.gov

Thomas M. Petrolati (D)
Phone: 617-722-2255
Fax: 617-722-2846
Email: Thomas.Petrolati@mahouse.gov

Ronald Mariano (D)
Phone: 617-722-2300
Fax: 617-722-2750
Email: Ronald.Mariano@mahouse.gov
 
Ellen Story (D)
Phone: 617-722-2012
Fax: 617-570-6577
Email: Ellen.Story@mahouse.gov

Eugene L. O'Flaherty (D)
Phone: 617-722-2396
Fax: 617-722-2819
Email: Gene.O'Flaherty@mahouse.gov

David M. Nangle (D)
Phone: 617-722-2575
Fax: 617-722-2215
Email: David.Nangle@mahouse.gov

Kathi-Anne Reinstein (D)
Phone: 617-722-2180
Email: KathiAnne.Reinstein@mahouse.gov

Garrett J. Bradley (D)
Phone: 617-722-2520
Email: Garrett.Bradley@mahouse.gov

Patricia A. Haddad (D)
Phone: 617-722-2600
Fax: 617-722-2313
Email: Patricia.Haddad@mahouse.gov

John V. Fernandes (D)
Phone: 617-722-2396
Fax: 617-626-0706
Email: John.Fernandes@mahouse.gov

Donald F. Humason, Jr (R)
Phone: 617-722-2803
Fax: 617-722-2390
Email: Donald.Humason@mahouse.gov

Paul K. Frost (R)
Phone: 617-722-2489
Email: Paul.Frost@mahouse.gov

Geoffrey G. Diehl (R)
Phone: 617-722-2810
Email: Geoff.Diehl@mahouse.gov

Comma-delimited e-mail list:
frederick.berry@masenate.gov, karen.spilka@masenate.gov, stephen.brewer@masenate.gov,  Jack.Hart@masenate.gov , michael.knapik@masenate.gov, richard.ross@masenate.gov, john.binienda@mahouse.gov, cory.atkins@mahouse.gov, byron.rushing@mahouse.gov, thomas.petrolati@mahouse.gov, ronald.mariano@mahouse.gov, ellen.story@mahouse.gov,  gene.o'flaherty@mahouse.gov, david.nangle@mahouse.gov, kathianne.reinstein@mahouse.gov, garrett.bradley@mahouse.gov, patricia.haddad@mahouse.gov, john.fernandes@mahouse.gov, donald.humason@mahouse.gov, paul.frost@mahouse.gov, geoff.diehl@mahouse.gov

Semicolon-delimited e-mail list:

frederick.berry@masenate.gov; karen.spilka@masenate.gov; stephen.brewer@masenate.gov;  Jack.Hart@masenate.gov ; michael.knapik@masenate.gov; richard.ross@masenate.gov; john.binienda@mahouse.gov; cory.atkins@mahouse.gov; byron.rushing@mahouse.gov; thomas.petrolati@mahouse.gov; ronald.mariano@mahouse.gov; ellen.story@mahouse.gov; gene.o'flaherty@mahouse.gov; david.nangle@mahouse.gov; kathianne.reinstein@mahouse.gov; garrett.bradley@mahouse.gov; patricia.haddad@mahouse.gov; john.fernandes@mahouse.gov; donald.humason@mahouse.gov; paul.frost@mahouse.gov; geoff.diehl@mahouse.gov

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Swisher Sweets releases new e-cig products to the market.

According to a report by Convenience Store Decisions, tobacco company Swisher Sweets has introduced a line of "e-Swisher" electronic cigarettes and cigars.

Photo Credit: CSDecisions.com
The line plans to provide "high quality" e-cigarettes and an e-cigar that are "assembled, tested and filled in the U.S."
Swisher Sweets are known for its line of flavored cigarellos, including grape, peach, cherry, wine, rum, white grape and strawberry. While many existing electronic cigarette brands currently on the market are also offered to adult smokers in hundreds of non-traditional flavor combinations, the Swisher Sweets e-cigarettes will be available only in "natural" and menthol flavors, while the e-cigar offers "a unique Swisher Sweets taste."  
The e-cigarettes will be available as disposables or as a rechargeable kit in only lower 12 milligram and 18 milligram nicotine levels. The company claims that each e-cigarette is equal to about two packs of cigarettes, which would be about 40 cigarettes and two day's worth for a typical smoker, but recent testing strongly suggests that similar electronic cigarette cartridges equal closer to 6-7 cigarettes for an average smoker. The report did not mention the price the company plans to charge for the devices.
The Swisher Sweets entry into the e-cigarette market is the second by a traditional tobacco company in recent months. Lorillard announced its acquisition of "blu e-cigs" this past April.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

South Bend, Indiana Call to Action (Ended)

Update: On July 20, 2012, sponsor Valerie Schey announced that the proposed 'smoking' ban has been postponed 'indefinitely,' perhaps until February of 2013. http://www.wndu.com/localnews/headlines/Proposed-SB-smoking-ban-postponed-indefinitely--163207386.html



Ordinance No. 24-12: An Ordinance to Establish Clean Air Standards for Workplaces and Public Places Within the City of South Bend, Indiana (http://www.scribd.com/doc/99820687)

This ordinance would: 
Ban smoking in a small number of workplaces in South Bend (mostly bars) not currently covered by Indiana's recently-passed smoke-free air law.  However, the ordinance would also ban the use of smoke-free electronic cigarettes (which are not covered by Indiana's law) in thousands of workplaces in South Bend.
According to an article in the South Bend Tribune, the South Bend Common Council is likely to vote on Ordinance No 24.12 on Monday, July 23rd at 7 p.m. in the Council Chambers located on the 4th floor of the County-City Building (227 West Jefferson Blvd).  There will be time for public comment at the meeting.  Vapers in the area are strongly encouraged to attend and testify.  
If you are in the South Bend area, please contact us at board@casaa.org for more ideas on how to help.    
Please call or write the members of the City-County Council listed below.

What to say:
1. You would like them to amend the proposed ordinance to remove the prohibition on e-cigarette use, specifically: in Section I, Definitions, item (q) needs to have the text "Smoking also includes the use of an e-cigarette, which creates a vapor, in any manner or in any form," deleted.

2. Tell your story on how switching to an e-cigarette or smokeless tobacco has changed your life.
3. Note that the statewide ban on smoking recently passed the Indiana legislature did not include electronic cigarettes in the definition of "smoking," and that a much more deliberative process should take place before the common council expands the ban to include a smoke-free product.
4. Explain how smoking bans are enacted to protect the public from the harm of second-hand smoke, but electronic cigarettes have not been shown to cause harm to bystanders. In fact, all evidence to date shows that the low health risks associated with electronic cigarettes is comparable to other smokeless nicotine products.
This is supported by research done by Dr. Siegel of Boston University, Dr. Eissenberg of Virginia Commonwealth and Dr. Laugesen of Health New Zealand 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.
5. Let them know that vapor does not behave in the same manner as smoke. There is no "side stream" vapor like the side stream smoke coming from the lit end of a cigarette and unlike cigarette smoke, The vapor is virtually odorless and dissipates quickly. There is also no ash or litter. Because of these facts, it is not difficult for people to differentiate between smoking and use of a smoke-free e-cigarette.
6. Inform them that the ability to use electronic cigarettes in public spaces will actually improve public health by inspiring other smokers to switch. Surveys of thousands of users indicate that the majority of those who switch very quickly completely replace tobacco cigarettes with the electronic cigarettes, reducing their health risks by 98-99%. So even if smokers think they are using electronic cigarettes just for indoor use, the chances are high that they will stop using tobacco cigarettes altogether
7. Tell them that by switching to a smokeless product, you have greatly reduced your health risks.
8. Direct them to the CASAA.org website for more information.
9. If you are from the South Bend area, make sure to point it out by leaving your address and/or phone number.


CONTACT INFORMATION:  

Those who are local to the South Bend area can find phone numbers for the council members at South Bend's website

1st District
Tim Scott
tscott@southbendin.gov

2nd District
Henry Davis, Jr.
hdavis@southbendin.gov

3rd District
Valerie Schey 
vschey@southbendin.gov

4th District
Dr. Fred Ferlic
fferlic@southbendin.gov

5th District
Dr. David A. Varner 
dvarner@southbendin.gov

6th district
Oliver J. Davis (Vice-President)
odavis@southbendin.gov

At Large
Derek D. Dieter (President)
ddieter@southbendin.gov

At Large
Gavin Ferlic
gferlic@southbendin.gov
At Large
Karen L. White  

Sunday, July 1, 2012

CASAA to York County Housing Authority: E-cigarettes do not emit smoke!



York Housing Authority
31 South Broad Street
York, PA 17403

Members of York Housing Authority:

The Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association (CASAA) urges you to not include smoke-free electronic cigarettes in your proposed Smoke Free Housing Policy.   CASAA is a non-profit organization that works to ensure the availability of reduced harm alternatives to smoking tobacco products and to provide the public with truthful information about such alternatives. Electronic cigarettes do not emit smoke and pose no known health risks to users or nonusers.

Smoking bans were enacted for the purpose of protecting non-smokers from the potentially harmful effects of second-hand smoke. But electronic cigarettes have not been shown to harm bystanders or users. FDA testing of e-cigarette vapor did not find any toxic or cancer-causing substances. In fact, all evidence to date shows that the low health risks associated with electronic cigarettes are comparable to other smokeless tobacco products and to the risks of using nicotine gum, lozenges, patch, and inhalers.

There are enormous differences between smoke and vapor.  Smoke is created by the process of combustion. Setting tobacco on fire creates tar, carbon monoxide, airborne particulates, dozens of carcinogens and thousands of other hazardous chemicals.  Inhaling these substances in smoke is the cause of 99% of tobacco-related diseases and deaths. 

Vapor from an electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) does not contain any of these substances. Vapor, while resembling smoke, is not a product of combustion but rather the product of the process of condensation. Vapor is created by heating a liquid to the point of evaporation.  

Dr. Murray Laugesen of Health New Zealand tested e-cigarette vapor for over 50 cigarette smoke toxicants. No such toxicants were found. Dr. Laugesen stated, “Relative to lethal tobacco smoke emissions, e-cigarette emissions appear to be several magnitudes safer. E-cigarettes are akin to a medicinal nicotine inhalator in safety, dose, and addiction potential.”  [1]

Dr. Michael Siegel of Boston University School of Public Health reviewed the available evidence on the safety and effectiveness of e-cigarettes—including the testing conducted by the FDA in 2009—and concluded, “A preponderance of the available evidence shows them to be much safer than tobacco cigarettes and comparable in toxicity to conventional nicotine replacement products.” Dr. Siegel states that there is no justification for banning the indoor use of e-cigarettes based on potential harm to bystanders. [2]

The majority of consumers use e-cigarettes as a complete replacement for all their tobacco cigarettes, and most of the rest use e-cigarettes to reduce the number of cigarettes per day they smoke.  These products are improving the health of their users, and could save the lives of many more smokers—provided their use is not discouraged. [3, 4]

Many e-cigarette users first discover the safer devices when they see them used where smoking isn't allowed.  Banning indoor use and forcing e-cigarette users outside removes an incentive for smokers to switch to an alternative that could very well reduce their risks of smoking-related disease.

Notably, government officials in both Alameda, California and Seattle, Washington recently removed e-cigarettes from recently passed apartment smoking bans.  In both instances, officials recognized that bans on the use of smoke-free products cannot be enforced, especially in the privacy of one’s home.
                         
Again, in light of the clear evidence that e-cigarettes do not pose a threat to bystanders, please remove e-cigarettes from the proposed lease addendum.


Very truly yours,

_____________________
Gregory Conley J.D./MBA
CASAA Director       



References:
1.      Laugesen M. Health New Zealand. Poster Presentation at the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco conference, Dublin, April 30, 2009. http://www.healthnz.co.nz/DublinEcigBenchtopHandout.pdf
2.      Cahn and Siegel.   Electronic cigarettes as a harm reduction strategy for tobacco control. Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 0197-5897 Journal of Public Health Policy 1–16.  http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/centers-institutes/population-development/files/article.jphp.pdf
3.      Heavner K, Dunworth J, Bergen P, Nissen C, Phillips CV. Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) as potential tobacco harm reduction products: Results of an online survey of e-cigarette users. Tobacco Harm Reduction 2010 Yearbook, Chapter 19.http://tobaccoharmreduction.org/wpapers/011v1.pdf
4.      Etter JF, Bullen C. Electronic cigarette : users profile, utilization, satisfaction and perceived efficacy. Addiction 2011 DOI: 10.1111/j.1360-0443.2011.03505.x.http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1360-0443.2011.03505.x/abstract (accessed June 2011)  Full Text: http://www.scribd.com/doc/61623650/Electronic-Cigarettes%E2%80%94Users-Profile-Utilization-Satisfaction-and-Perceived-Efficiacy

York County, PA Call to Awareness!

CASAA is making members aware that the Housing Authority of the City of York, Pennsylvania has recently proposed a “Smoke Free Housing Policy” that will ban smoking in residential units, common areas and within 25 feet of the entrance of any public housing-operated building. According to a recent news article, Authority officials answering questions at the White Rose Senior Center said that the ban also prohibits the use of electronic cigarettes. (See last answer in link, under the "At a Glance" heading.)


To allow any government agency to ban the use of low-risk, smoke-free alternatives without public comment would set a dangerous precedent and could lead to expanded use bans elsewhere. It also sends a misleading message to the public that there are known health risks associated with electronic cigarette use that justifies banning public use. This is unacceptable!

Link to new policy: http://yorkhousingauthority.com/files/2012%20Smoke%20Free%20policy.pdf

Link to draft of lease amendment: http://yorkhousingauthority.com/files/Smoke%20Free%20policy%20and%20lease%20addendum-%20draft.pdf

The York Housing Authority’s deadline for public comment is July 5, 2012.

Please write, fax, or call the York Housing Authority.

York Housing Authority
31 South Broad Street
York, PA 17403
Phone: (717) 845-2601
Fax: (717) 845-9251
TDD Phone: (717) 846-9157

1. Ask them to remove the use of electronic cigarettes from the Smoke Free Housing Policy.

2. Tell your story on how switching to an e-cigarette has changed your life.

3. Tell them that by switching to electronic cigarettes, you have greatly reduced
your health risks.

4. Explain how electronic cigarette “vaping” is completely different from actual cigarette
smoking. First of all, electronic cigarettes produce no smoke. In addition, 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. Therefore, the smell will not penetrate the surrounding housing units and common areas.

5. Let them know that vapor does not behave in the same manner as smoke. There is no "side stream" vapor like the side stream smoke coming from the lit end of a cigarette. There is also no ash or litter.

6. Explain that, for the above-mentioned reasons, electronic cigarette use will not affect the air quality of the other public housing residents and with so little evidence of use, it would be nearly impossible to enforce a ban of their use.

7. Explain that electronic cigarette second-hand vapor is completely harmless as it contains no tar, nicotine, carcinogens or other potentially harmful substances. For that reason, it poses no danger to the other public housing residents. Since the goal of this ban is to improve the health of all of the tenants in public housing, the policy should not include e-cigarette use.

8. Inform them that the ability to use electronic cigarettes in and around housing units will actually improve public health by inspiring other smokers to switch. Surveys of thousands of users indicate that the majority of those who switch, completely replace tobacco cigarettes with the electronic cigarettes, reducing their health risks by 98-99%.

9. Direct them to the CASAA.org website for more information.