Friday, March 21, 2014

Call to Action! Alaska HB 360 Would Impose a Statewide Smoking Ban and Define E-Cigarette Use as "Smoking"


4/11/14:  With less than 24 hours' notice, SB209 is being heard in the Senate Finance Committee via teleconference TODAY, 4/11/14, at 9:00 A.M. local time (1:00 P.M. Eastern).  Link to list of Senate Finance Committee Members.  (Click on individual names on that list for contact information.)

4/8/14 update:  SB209 Senate Health & Social Services Committee hearing was canceled yesterday (4-7-14). The new hearing for this bill is tomorrow, WEDNESDAY, April 9th at 1:30 pm AST, 5:30pm EST.

4/5/14 update:  SB209, which would ban smoking and e-cigarette use in workplaces in Alaska, moved out of the State Affairs Committee Friday (4/4/14) and has a hearing before the Health & Social Services Committee on Monday at 1:30 PM (5:30 PM EST) on Monday via teleconference.  (Link to Agenda)  Please be sure to send an email or make phone calls to the members of the Senate Health & Social Services Committee and, if you are a resident of Alaska,  plan on testifying via teleconference.

4/2/14 update (added Senate information for SB 209):  Bills introduced in the Alaska Senate (SB 209) & Alaska House (HB 360) would both impose a statewide smoking ban AND would deceitfully define smoking to include the use of a smoke-free electronic cigarette.

SB 209 will have a hearing via teleconference before the Senate State Affairs Committee on Thursday, April 3rd at 9 AM local time in Room 205 of the Butrovich Building. SB 209 will be eligible for a vote after the hearing, but there is a good chance it will not come up for a vote (we will update this Call to Action if it moves).  Please be sure to send an email or make phone calls to the Senate members, even if you have already taken action against HB 360.

HB 360 was previously heard on Tuesday, March 25th, 2014 in front of the House Health & Social Services Standing Committee.  This is a TELECONFERENCE hearing, and below are detailed instructions on how Alaska residents can participate in the teleconference.

What to say:

1. You are a resident of Alaska, and while you support banning sales of e-cigarettes to minors, you OPPOSE including smoke-free e-cigarette use within the definition of "smoking."  (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 Alaska on vacation or have friends/family in the area.)
2. Tell your story on how switching to an e-cigarette has changed your life.

3. Explain that:

  • Smoking bans are supposedly 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.

  • 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.

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

Contact Information for the Members of the Senate State Affairs Committee (oppose SB 209):

Comma delimited email list:,,,

Senator Fred Dyson  (R) (Chair)

Senator Cathy Giessel (R) (Vice Chair)

Senator John Coghill  (R)

Senator Bert Stedman (R)

Senator Bill Wielechowski (D)

Contact Information for the Members of the House Health & Social Services Committee (oppose HB 360):

Comma delimited email list:,,,,,,,

Representative Pete Higgins (R) (Chair)

Representative Wes Keller (R) (Vice Chair)

Representative Benjamin Nageak (D)

Representative Lance Pruitt (R)

Representative Lora Reinbold (R)

Representative Paul Seaton (R)

Representative Geran Tarr (D)

Ms. Julie Morris, Health & Social Services Committee Aide

Contact Information for the Members of the Senate Health & Social Services Committee (oppose SB 209):

Comma delimited email list:,,,,

Senator Bert Stedman (R)

Senator Peter Micciche

Senator Kevin Meyer

Senator Pete Kelly

Senator Johnny Ellis

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