Thursday, March 20, 2014

Call to Action! Rhode Island Bills Impose 80% Tax on E-Cigarettes and Unreasonable Requirements for Online Sales

UPDATE 3/21/14:  HB 7021 has been set for hearing on WEDNESDAY, 3/26/14 before the House Judiciary.   Link to Agenda  The meeting will occur at the "rise of the House"  (approximately 4:00 P.M.) in Room 205 of the State House (82 Smith Street in Providence).  

Please (i) continue to call and email members of the House Judiciary to let them know you oppose HB 7021 (See Part I of the Call to Action for contact information and talking points), and (ii) attend this hearing and offer testimony.  (As a sign of respect, we ask you to please refrain from vaping in the committee room.)


UPDATE 2/25/14:  On Thursday, February 27th at approximately 2:30 PM, the Rhode Island Senate Finance Committee is expected to hold a critical public hearing regarding taxing e-cigarettes at an outrageous 80% of wholesale. This hearing will be held in Room 211 of the State House (82 Smith Street in Providence). Please attend the hearing and speak in opposition to this unwarranted and outrageous tax.  (Please note that this is expected to be covered as part of the Governor's Fiscal Year 2015 budget discussion.)

UPDATE 2/18/14 - The House Finance Committee has scheduled a hearing on THURSDAY, March 6th, 2014 at approximately 4:00 PM (or shortly thereafter) to take public comment on the proposed e-cigarette tax.  

The hearing will take place in Room 35 of the State House (82 Smith Street, Providence, RI).  Your help is needed to stop this outrageous tax.  Please attend and speak. (As a sign of respect, we ask you to please refrain from vaping in the committee room.) 


UPDATE 2/13/14 - House Finance Committee meeting CANCELLED due to weather.  We will update this Call to Action when more information becomes available.

UPDATE 2/6/14:  BREAKING! The House Finance Committee has scheduled a hearing on Thursday, February 13th at approximately 4:00 PM (or shortly thereafter) to take public comment on the proposed e-cigarette tax.  The hearing will take place in Room 35 of the State House (82 Smith Street, Providence, RI).  Your help is needed to stop this outrageous and harmful tax.  Please attend and speak. (As a sign of respect, we ask you to please refrain from vaping in the committee room.)
For Facebook users, please see this event.


[full text of H. 7021] 
[full text of H. 7133]

Last year, Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee vetoed a common sense piece of legislation that would have banned sales of e-cigarettes to minors. Governor Chafee was quoted as saying, "As a matter of public policy, electronic cigarette laws should mirror tobacco product laws." Consequently, it's no great surprise that this year, legislation has been introduced that would impose substantial burdens on adult vapers in a misguided effort to discourage use of these potentially life-saving devices by smokers.


House Bill 7021 (referred to the House Judiciary Committee) would ban e-cigarette sales to minors, but would also:
  • Define e-cigarettes as "tobacco products" for regulatory purposes.
  • Require a retailer conducting an online sale to: (1) obtain a copy of the buyer's driver's license; (2) obtain a statement from the buyer affirming that he/she is the person pictured; and (3) send the package through a service that checks the ID of the buyer at delivery. Retailers would be required to perform this check every time a consumer places an order. 
  • Mandate that e-cigarette retailers in Rhode Island obtain a tobacco license and only buy their e-cigarettes from licensed wholesalers or distributors.

House Bill 7133 (referred to the House Finance Committee) is Governor Chafee's proposed budget for 2015.  This bill would:
  • Apply a punitive excise tax of 80% of wholesale price on all e-cigarette devices

Action is needed against these bills! Remember, these bills are in two different 
committees, so please follow the below steps: 


I.  First, please call or write members of the House Judiciary Committee regarding House Bill 7021 below:
  
What to say:

  1. While you support bans on sales to minors, you oppose House Bill 7021 because it imposes substantial burdens on adult e-cigarette users and unfairly taxes e-cigarettes.
  2. Tell your story on how switching to e-cigarettes has changed your life.
  3. Explain that the purpose of states imposing high cigarette taxes is ostensibly to cover governmental healthcare expenditures caused by smoking and to discourage smoking.  However, e-cigarettes are estimated to pose approximately 1% of the risk of that from smoking.  Therefore, there is absolutely no financial or public health justification for such a hefty tax.
  4. Given the low risk of e-cigarette use, there is no need to impose a punitive tax on e-cigarettes.

    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 2009 FDA testing, in spite of its press statement, failed to find harmful levels of carcinogens or toxic levels of any chemical in the vapor.


    comprehensive review by a Drexel University professor 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.  
  5. Many smokers who switch to less hazardous e-cigarettes instead of continuing to smoke do so because e-cigarettes are less expensive than cigarettes.  Increasing the cost of e-cigarettes with punitive taxes would discourage many smokers from switching to e-cigarettes.  It could also encourage some e-cigarette consumers to go back to cigarette smoking.
  6. The vast majority of House Bill 7021 is unnecessary and will have unintended consequences on small businesses and e-cigarette users in Rhode Island.
  7. By making online sales burdensome and expensive, the legislation favors products sold by the large tobacco companies (companies which have established points of distribution in physical locations throughout the state wherever combustible cigarettes are sold).
  8. Either the onerous online sales and delivery requirements should be removed or  the legislature at the very least should consider more reasonable and less intrusive and burdensome requirements.  For example, there is no need to require an adult signature for every delivery to a particular person at a particular household.  Once a household has been vetted, future deliveries should be permitted to the same person at the same address without the expense and inconvenience associated with signature delivery.  Moreover, third-party verification systems should be a permitted alternative.
  9. This legislation would not only require e-cigarette sellers to obtain a license to sell tobacco, but would also mandate that they only buy their products from a Rhode Island based distributor or wholesaler.  This provision would impact the availability of hundreds of specialty e-cigarette products as there are no Rhode Island businesses wholesaling those products.
  10. Direct them to the CASAA.org website for more information.
Comma delimited email list: rep-ajello@rilin.state.ri.us, rep-almeida@rilin.state.ri.us, rep-blazejewski@rilin.state.ri.us, rep-canario@rilin.state.ri.us, rep-costa@rilin.state.ri.us, rep-craven@rilin.state.ri.us, rep-desimone@rilin.state.ri.us, rep-lally@rilin.state.ri.us, rep-lima@rilin.state.ri.us, rep-marcello@rilin.state.ri.us, rep-martin@rilin.state.ri.us, rep-shekarchi@rilin.state.ri.us, rep-walsh@rilin.state.ri.us

Chairwoman Edith H. Ajello (D - Providence)
(401) 274-7078 / rep-ajello@rilin.state.ri.us

Vice Chairman John J. DeSimone (D - Providence)
(401) 351-7373 / rep-desimone@rilin.state.ri.us

Rep. Joseph S. Almeida (D - Providence)
(401) 467-7033 / rep-almeida@rilin.state.ri.us

Rep. Christopher R. Blazejewski (D - East Providence, Providence)
(401) 484-8814 / rep-blazejewski@rilin.state.ri.us

Rep. Dennis M. Canario (D - Portsmouth)
(401) 683-4926 / rep-canario@rilin.state.ri.us

Rep. Doreen Marie Costa (R - North Kingstown, Exeter)
(401) 206-6891 / rep-costa@rilin.state.ri.us

Rep. Robert E. Craven, Sr. (D - North Kingstown)
(401) 294-2222 / rep-craven@rilin.state.ri.us 

Rep. Donald J. Lally Jr. (D - Narragansett, South Kingstown)
(401) 792-9090 / rep-lally@rilin.state.ri.us

Rep. Charlene Lima (D - Cranston)
(401) 222-2258 / rep-lima@rilin.state.ri.us

Rep. Michael J. Marcello (D - Scituate)
(401) 647-5905 / rep-marcello@rilin.state.ri.us

Rep. Peter F. Martin (D - Newport)
(401) 924-2402 / rep-martin@rilin.state.ri.us

Rep. K. Joseph Shekarchi (D - Warwick)
(401) 827-0100 / rep-shekarchi@rilin.state.ri.us

Rep. Donna M. Walsh (D - Charlestown, New Shoreham, South Kingstown, Westerly)
(401) 364-6433 / rep-walsh@rilin.state.ri.us


II.  Second, please call or write members of the House Finance Committee regarding House Bill 7133 below:

What to say:


  1. While you support bans on sales to minors, you oppose House Bill 7133 because it imposes a punitive tax on e-cigarettes.
  2. Tell your story on how switching to e-cigarettes has changed your life.
  3. Explain that the purpose of states imposing high cigarette taxes is ostensibly to cover governmental healthcare expenditures caused by smoking and to discourage smoking.  However, e-cigarettes are estimated to pose approximately 1% of the risk of that from smoking.  Therefore, there is absolutely no financial or public health justification for such a hefty tax.
  4. Given the low risk of e-cigarette use, there is no need to impose a punitive tax on e-cigarettes.

    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 2009 FDA testing, in spite of its press statement, failed to find harmful levels of carcinogens or toxic levels of any chemical in the vapor.


    comprehensive review by a Drexel University professor 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.  
  5. Many smokers who switch to less hazardous e-cigarettes instead of continuing to smoke do so because e-cigarettes are less expensive than cigarettes.  Increasing the cost of e-cigarettes with punitive taxes would discourage many smokers from switching to e-cigarettes.  It could also encourage some e-cigarette consumers to go back to cigarette smoking.
  6. Direct them to the CASAA.org website for more information.

Comma delimited email list: rep-carnevale@rilin.state.ri.us, rep-ferri@rilin.state.ri.us, rep-gallison@rilin.state.ri.us, rep-hearn@rilin.state.ri.us, rep-hull@rilin.state.ri.us, rep-jacquard@rilin.state.ri.us, rep-malik@rilin.state.ri.us, rep-melo@rilin.state.ri.us, rep-morgan@rilin.state.ri.us, rep-naughton@rilin.state.ri.us, rep-ruggiero@rilin.state.ri.us, rep-sanbento@rilin.state.ri.us, rep-silva@rilin.state.ri.us, rep-slater@rilin.state.ri.us, rep-valencia@rilin.state.ri.us


Rep. John M. Carnevale (D – Providence, Johnston)

Rep. Frank Ferri (D – Warwick)
(401) 737-5113 / rep-ferri@rilin.state.ri.us

Rep. Raymond E. Gallison Jr. (D – Bristol) [Co Vice Chairperson]
(508) 677-4235 / rep-gallison@rilin.state.ri.us

Rep. Joy Hearn (D – Barrington)
(401) 247-9867 / rep-hearn@rilin.state.ri.us

Rep. Raymond A. Hull (D – Providence)
(401) 272-4026 / rep-hull@rilin.state.ri.us

Rep. Robert B. Jacquard (D – Cranston)
(401) 943-7799 / rep-jacquard@rilin.state.ri.us

Rep. Jan Malik (D – Warren)
(401) 247-1271 / rep-malik@rilin.state.ri.us

Rep. Helio Melo (D – East Providence) [Chairperson]
(401) 222-8028 / rep-melo@rilin.state.ri.us

Rep. Patricia L. Morgan (R – West Warwick)
(401) 222-2259 / rep-morgan@rilin.state.ri.us

Rep. Eileen S. Naughton (D – Warwick) (Deputy Chairperson)
(401) 738-7928 / rep-naughton@rilin.state.ri.us

Rep. Deborah Ruggiero (D – Jamestown)
(401) 423-0444 / rep-ruggiero@rilin.state.ri.us

Rep. William San Bento Jr. (D – Pawtucket) [Secretary]
(401) 727-0276 / rep-sanbento@rilin.state.ri.us

Rep. Agostinho F. Silva (D – Central Falls) [Co Vice Chairperson]
(401) 728-5473 / rep-silva@rilin.state.ri.us

Rep. Scott Slater (D – Providence)
(401) 741-7641 / rep-slater@rilin.state.ri.us

Rep. Larry Valencia (D – Richmond, Exeter, Glocester)

12 comments:

  1. What? There is no tobacco in nicotine. Granted nicotine is extracted from tobacco but it does not work in reverse. This proposed legislation is completely misrepresented.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Emails sent and with any luck some people are now educated on the issues at hand rather than blindly moving forward.

    ReplyDelete
  3. This is my edited version for cut and paste to your emails:

    While I support bans on sales to minors, I oppose House Bill 7133 because it imposes a punitive tax on e-cigarettes.

    Switching to e-cigarettes has changed my life.

    I used to smoke cigars.

    The purpose of states imposing high cigarette taxes is ostensibly to cover governmental healthcare expenditures caused by smoking and to discourage smoking. However, e-cigarettes are estimated to pose approximately 1% of the risk of that from smoking. Therefore, there is absolutely no financial or public health justification for such a hefty tax.
    Given the low risk of e-cigarette use, there is no need to impose a punitive tax on e-cigarettes.

    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 2009 FDA testing, in spite of its press statement, failed to find harmful levels of carcinogens or toxic levels of any chemical in the vapor.

    A comprehensive review by a Drexel University professor 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.

    Many smokers who switch to less hazardous e-cigarettes instead of continuing to smoke do so because e-cigarettes are less expensive than cigarettes. Increasing the cost of e-cigarettes with punitive taxes would discourage many smokers from switching to e-cigarettes. It could also encourage some e-cigarette consumers to go back to cigarette smoking.

    Please look at the CASAA.org website for more information.

    ReplyDelete
  4. There is an error in an email ep should be rep. rep-craven@rilin.state.ri.us

    ReplyDelete
  5. i live in rhode island and man this scares me as far as i know there is NO RI based brick and mortar shops this would make it damn near impossible to get our juices we really need help out here, my wife and i are smokers of 8 years i was 2 packs a day we switched to vaping and within 2 weeks completely off cigs not only that but 6 coworkers and 3 family members have made the switch ...... RI has a history of doing shady shit like this.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There are only a few B&M stores in RI.
      Also, I am having a hard time finding the written proposed tax of 80% on House Bill 7133. Is it possible to post the page the proposed tax is on, from the bill?

      Delete
  6. Hi Sean & Tom that live in the state, Please email me asap to help fight this we need alot of people at the hearing I will explain why. I spoke with 2 reps and it doesn't look good at all for rhode Island. Email me lisaciarlone @ gmail.com We need everyone's help!!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Absolute insanity from GREEDY politicians!!!

    ReplyDelete
  8. I have no choice but to reiterate a point I have made here before. The provision of the proposed legislation requiring online retailers to confirm the age/identity of the person ordering is so ambiguously worded, it has no meaning. What online retailers are they talking about? Online retailers with business entities in Rhode Island? If so, that won't be a big loss to anyone. (Are there any online e-cig retailers in Rhode Island?)

    If they think they can extend their rules to states outside of Rhode Island, they've got a problem because it violates the Commerce Clause. They can't regulate trade from another state. I know I'll ignore the law completely. Thankfully, this is still a Republic (barely) and I am not bound by the laws of another state. I'll be happy to send anything to the fine citizens of Rhode Island without verifying a thing!

    Finally, isn't part one and two of the age/identity verification process redundant (let alone super easy to fake)? Requiring an adult signature upon delivery really takes care of the whole age verification thing!

    ReplyDelete
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    ReplyDelete