Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Call to Action! Hawaii Bills that Would Tax E-Cigarettes, Ban Flavors, Internet Sales, Usage, & More

LATEST UPDATE 2/21/2014: The Senate Ways & Means Committee will likely vote on SB 2495 and SB 2222 on Tuesday, February 25th at 9:05 AM in conference room 211 of the State Capitol Building.  While no testimony will be taken, advocates near the capitol should still consider attending.  Please make phone calls and continue to submit testimony (phone calls will have the largest impact)!

PRIOR UPDATE 2/16/2014: This Call to Action has been updated to highlight the largest emerging threat in Hawaii: Senate Bill 2495 Substitute Draft 1 (SB 2495 SD 1), which would tax electronic cigarettes, ban usage where smoking is banned, ban online sales, and declare all electronic cigarette products to be "tobacco products." SB 2495 is currently before the Senate Ways & Means Committee, an extremely important committee that needs to hear from Hawaiian vapers.

Earlier this week, committees in the Hawaii Senate responded to your testimony and wisely removed electronic cigarettes from the prohibitions found in two bills: SB 2222 (banning 'flavored' tobacco products and electronic cigarettes) and SB 651 SD 1 (banning smoking and the use of electronic cigarettes in public housing and elderly homes). CASAA remains opposed to SB 2222 because it would ban flavored smokeless tobacco products, including in commonly used flavors like mint and wintergreen.

At the moment, it appears that the Hawaii House of Representatives will be waiting for the Senate to proceed on its e-cigarette bills before taking any action on its own e-cigarette bills listed in a prior version of this Call to Action.

Hawaii is under a major attack.  Help is needed from all harm reduction advocates to stop these counterproductive attacks on public health and the freedom of adult consumers.

If enacted, SB 2495 SD 1 would:
  • Place an undetermined tax on all electronic cigarette devices, nicotine-containing cartridges, and nicotine-containing liquid that could be as high as 85% of wholesale. 
  • Ban electronic cigarette use everywhere in Hawaii where smoking is banned
  • Define electronic cigarettes as "tobacco products" regardless of nicotine content and subject them to the same licensing and retail restrictions as tobacco products.
  • Ban electronic cigarette sales on the Internet. 
  • This bill is currently before the Senate Ways & Means Committee.
If enacted, SB 2222 SD 1 would:
  • Ban  the sale of electronic cigarettes and smokeless tobacco in flavors other than tobacco, including menthol. (Electronic cigarettes are no longer impacted by this bill after committees in the Senate voted to remove the prohibition.) 
  • This bill is currently before the Senate Ways & Means Committee.  
The deadline for both SB 2495 and SB 2222 to pass the Senate is in the first week of March.  If passed, the bills will move onto several committees in the House of Representatives.  Right now, convincing the highly influential members of the Senate Ways & Means Committee that these bills would be negative for Hawaii is extremely important.

Remember, you can register to receive free CASAA e-mail alerts  regarding this and other legislation in Hawaii and across the United States. We will alert you when there are other opportunities to voice your concerns to the members of the Hawaii State Legislature.   

Please respond to both of the below Call to Action.  Tell your story and state why you oppose these bills! With so many bills, we know it can be overwhelming.  Just remember--so long as you are respectful, even very short letters noting your opposition to these bills will be helpful. 

(last updated 2/16/2014)

(1) Oppose SB 2495 (electronic cigarette tax, usage ban, online sales ban, and "tobacco product" classification) and SB 2222 (smokeless tobacco flavor ban) by contacting the members of the Senate Ways & Means Committee below.  See below for suggested talking points.

Comma delimited email list: sendige@capitol.hawaii.gov, senkidani@capitol.hawaii.gov, senchunoakland@capitol.hawaii.gov, sendelacruz@capitol.hawaii.gov, senenglish@capitol.hawaii.gov, senespero@capitol.hawaii.gov, senkahele@capitol.hawaii.gov, senkeithagaran@capitol.hawaii.gov, senkouchi@capitol.hawaii.gov, senruderman@capitol.hawaii.gov, senthielen@capitol.hawaii.gov, sentokuda@capitol.hawaii.gov, senslom@capitol.hawaii.gov, WAMtestimony@capitol.hawaii.gov

You can also submit testimony through an online webform, but you must address each bills individually; submit testimony in opposition to SB 2495 and SB 2222 using the preceding links. Testimony can also be faxed to 808-586-6231.

Phone calls to the offices of the members of the Senate Ways & Means Committee respectfully asking the members to vote NO on SB 2495 and SB 2222 votes would be especially helpful.

(2) Contact your State House Representative and Senator. Please ask them to oppose any measure that would limit adult access to or use of electronic cigarettes.  Specifically, please ask them to oppose SB 2495 and SB 2222 for the reasons outlined below. Phone calls and in-person meetings are very strongly encouraged.

(3) Reasons to OPPOSE SB 2495 (electronic cigarette tax, usage ban, online sales ban, and "tobacco product" classification) 

a. You are a Hawaii resident and OPPOSE SB 2495 because it would define tobacco-free electronic cigarettes as tobacco products, apply a sin tax to their sale, include them in Hawaii's smoking ban, and would generally make e-cigarettes less affordable and accessible to adult consumers. (If you are responding to this Call to Action and are not a state resident, please mention any connection you have to the area, for example, you travel to Hawaii on vacation or have friends/family in the state.)  

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

c. Explain that e-cigarette use should not be treated the same as smoking or other combustible tobacco products.
i. Taxing electronic cigarettes more than other general consumer products will work against the interests of public health by making e-cigarettes less accessible and affordable for adults seeking to reduce their health risks:
    • E-cigarettes are being used by adults as a low-risk alternative to smoking. This bill is really about increasing tax revenue from adult consumers, not protecting the children.  Existing laws prohibiting sales to children should be enforced rather than erecting substantial roadblocks for adults seeking a healthier alternative to smoking.
    • While high cigarette taxes are justified by many as necessary to cover governmental healthcare expenditures caused by smoking and encourage smokers to quit smoking, trying to impose similar levels of tax on e-cigarettes, a reduced risk products, does not make sense.
    • E-cigarettes are estimated to pose approximately 1% of the risk of that from smoking. Given the low risk associated with e-cigarettes, there is no need to impose a punitive tax.
    • The low risks of e-cigarettes for adult consumers is supported by research done by Dr. Michael Siegel of Boston University, Dr. Thomas Eissenberg of Virginia Commonwealth, Dr Maciej L Goniewicz of the Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Dr. Murray 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 e-cigarette vapor.
    • 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.
ii. Inclusion in Hawaiiís anti-smoking statute is not necessary or appropriate:
    • Smoking bans are enacted to protect the public from the harm of secondhand smoke, but e-cigarettes have not been shown to cause harm 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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 completely replace tobacco cigarettes with the electronic cigarettes, reducing their health risks by an estimated 99%.
    • By switching to a smokeless product, you have greatly reduced your health risks.

iii. Banning online sales within the state will: (a) act as a hardship for adult consumers in Hawaii; (b) favor products sold by the large tobacco companies, all of which have established points of distribution in physical locations throughout the state wherever combustible cigarettes are sold; and (c) favor online sellers from states other than Hawaii. 
(4) Why you OPPOSE SB 2222 (smokeless tobacco flavor ban):
    • Smokeless tobacco, like e-cigarettes, poses an estimated 1% of the risk of smoking.
    • The way to reduce youth use of this low-risk product is to enforce existing laws rather than create unnecessary legislation which seeks to make a product less palatable to adults, especially those adults using smokeless tobacco as a low-risk alternative to smoking.
(5) Directly Contact the Members of the Senate Ways & Means Committee to Oppose SB 2495 and SB 2222

Comma delimited email list:  sendige@capitol.hawaii.gov, senkidani@capitol.hawaii.gov, senchunoakland@capitol.hawaii.gov, sendelacruz@capitol.hawaii.gov, senenglish@capitol.hawaii.gov, senespero@capitol.hawaii.gov, senkahele@capitol.hawaii.gov, senkeithagaran@capitol.hawaii.gov, senkouchi@capitol.hawaii.gov, senruderman@capitol.hawaii.gov, senthielen@capitol.hawaii.gov, sentokuda@capitol.hawaii.gov, senslom@capitol.hawaii.gov, WAMtestimony@capitol.hawaii.gov 

Senator David Y. Ige, Chair
16th Senatorial District Map - Pearl City, Momilani, Pearlridge, ëAiea, Royal Summit, ëAiea Heights, Newtown, Waimalu, Halawa, Pearl Harbor  

Room 208
phone: 808-586-6230
fax: 808-586-6231

Senator Michelle N. Kidani, Vice Chair 
18th Senatorial District Map - Mililani Town, portion of Waipiëo Gentry, Waikele, Village Park, Royal Kunia 
Room 228
phone: 808-586-7100
fax: 808-586-7109

Senator Suzanne Chun Oakland 
13th Senatorial District Map - Liliha, Palama, Iwilei, Kalihi, Nuëuanu, Pacific Heights, Pauoa, Lower Tantalus, Downtown
Room 226
phone: 808-586-6130
fax: 808-586-6131

Senator Donovan Dela Cruz
22nd Senatorial District Map - Mililani Mauka, Waipiëo Acres, Wheeler, Wahiawa, Whitmore Village, portion of Poamoho
Room 202
phone: 808-586-6090
fax: 808-586-6091

Senator J. Kalani English

7th Senatorial District Map - Hana, East and Upcountry Maui, Molokaëi, Lanaëi and Kahoëolawe
Room 205
phone: 808-587-7225
fax: 808-587-7230

Senator Will Espero
19th Senatorial District Map - ëEwa Beach, ëEwa by Gentry, Iroquois Point, portion of ëEwa Villages
Room 231
phone: 808-586-6360
fax: 808-586-6361

Senator Gilbert Kahele
1st Senatorial District Map - Hilo
Room 213
phone: 808-586-6760
fax: 808-586-6689

Senator Gilbert Keith-Agaran
5th Senatorial District Map - Wailuku, Waiheëe, Kahului
Room 203
phone: 808-586-7344
fax: 808-586-7348

Senator Ronald Kouchi
8th Senatorial District Map - Kauaëi, Niëihau
Room 206
phone: 808-586-6030
fax: 808-586-6031

Senator Russell Ruderman
2nd Senatorial District Map - Keaëau, Pahoa, Kalapana, Kapoho, Kurtistown, Mountain View, Glenwood, Volcano, Pahala
Room 217
phone: 808-586-6890
fax: 808-586-6899

Senator Laura Thielen
25th Senatorial District Map - Kailua, Lanikai, Enchanted Lake, Keolu Hills, Maunawili, Waimanalo, Hawaiëi Kai, Portlock
Room 223
phone: 808-587-8388
fax: 808-587-7240

Senator Jill Tokuda
24th Senatorial District Map - Kaneëohe, Kaneëohe MCAB, Kailua, Heëeia, ëAhuimanu
Room 218
phone: 808-587-7215
fax: 808-587-7220

Senator Sam Slom
9th Senatorial District Map - Hawaiëi Kai, Kuliëouëou, Niu, ëAina Haina, Waiëalae-Kahala, Diamond Head
Room 214
phone: 808-586-8420
fax: 808-586-8426


Lanaka said...

Argh, I find out about this yesterday on of all days my birthday. This is about the worst birthday gift I've gotten. Thank you govt, for ruining my day. I'm also gonna take it one more step in addition to above by voting AGAINST reelecting the numbskull(s) who penned these bills. I invite all Kamaainas (locals) to do same!

Lisa Bell said...

Sad it's one of the best examples of the decrepid state of humanity the ANTZ hatred of smokers/vapers!

Flayme Fashions said...

Wow this is crazy!!!

BitWarrior said...

Decrepit state of humanity...you've hit the nail right on it's head! It's the biggest problem facing humanity...this will, of people, to restrict and oppress others freedoms, when either they don't believe the same, or are less fortunate. It all ends with one big totalitarian controlled prison planet. And we're closing in on that faster and faster.

Ann said...

Yes, I encourage everyone to vote these people out of office Vote Blue (Democrat). This will change things I assure you if we can get rid of the arrogant ones who believe they are in office for life & do nothing but try to make us miserable!

Ann said...

The big, rich pharmaceutical companies don't want to lose all the money they make for gum, patches & meds like chantrix that don't work. E cigarette is like a nicoderm patch, just a different way to deliver nicotine plus it works, Big tobacco doesn't like e cigs either for obvious reasons.

Jay Gladieux said...

Ann, if you truly want to get screwed elect Democrats, you haven't learned yet from the turd that's in the White House now?

Carlo~ said...

You people need to quit bitching about the parties in power and work on getting your view on EC to the legislators and contacting the reps in your areas. The power to the people in numbers. Lets do this folks.

mkvapor said...

I am not sure how a State Bill would ban the sales of e cigs on the internet. Seems to me that it would have to be done on a federal level. We have an online web store based on the Big Island for e-cigarettes and we wont stop selling until they take our site down. Which by the way, if any of you are interested in awesome deals on mods, rebuildables, and other e-cig products, check us out at www.maunakeavapor.com - a Hawaii based site.

Tempest said...

I copied the generic "OPPOSE" letter to word pad, made my own changes and started going down the line of senators, emailing the same letter to all of them. I'm not done yet because there are a lot of senators on the list but I will finish doing it. We all have to take action and that means work but if we want to hold on to our rights we have to fight for them. Unfortunately, the government, be it state or federal, can write bills that take away our constitutional rights but because of the constitution we can stop the bills from going through. To do that we have to write or call everyone in government who can vote NO to the bills. Please work for these rights because there may be enough people that listen to our side and we may be successful in stopping this BS! I've been vaping for three years and have watched the amount of vapers grow from a small community to a really large percent of consumers so if most of us are angry and worried about these bills and bans on vaping, don't just talk about it, DO SOMETHING and we can win many of these battles but it will take a great deal of us to continue to fight for our right to buy vaping hardware and liquids in order to continue vaping. BTW, the federal government doesn't like the huge number of consumers who have switched from cigarettes to vaping because they are now losing a ton of taxes. That means we have a lot of fights still ahead to fight but really, we can't just get tired and give in. We have to put aside some of our time to fight for every state and fight the federal government too! Thanks for listening.