Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Alaska Call to Action: Two bills have been introduced that threaten to ban vaping wherever smoking is banned!

(Update - 04.14.15)

Tomorrow, Wednesday, April 15th, 2015 at 8:30 a.m., there will be a hearing on SB 1 (which would ban e-cigarette use in public places and workplaces across the state).

This hearing will be via teleconference in the Senate State Affairs Committee, and the teleconference number that has been provided to us is 844-586-9085. You can contact your Legislative Information Office for details.

Your lawmakers need to hear from YOU, a taxpaying citizen of Alaska and a vaper. Please try to find the time to testify via teleconference.

(Update - 03/30/15)

Both bills that would include vaping in Alaska’s smoking law, SB 1 and HB 40, are scheduled for committee hearings on Thursday, April 2nd.
  • SB 1: 9:00 AM, Senate State Affairs Committee, Butrovich 205.  
    • Testimony is by invitation only.
  • HB 40: 3:00 PM, House Health & Social Services Committee, Capitol 106.

Oppose HB 40 and SB 1 - Send an Email

(Update - 03/09/15)

Both SB 1 and HB 40 will be heard in committees this week:

We have refreshed and updated our email campaign to send messages to both committees and your state legislators.  Even if you’ve sent an email back in February, we urge you to send a follow-up email to remind your elected officials of your concerns.

Alaska residents can also use the “Public Opinion Message System” to send a brief -- 50 words or less -- message to lawmakers.  Be sure to state that you are opposed to each bill.

It is unclear as to whether the committees will be hearing public testimony on either of these bills.  Alaska residents should check with their Legislative Information Offices for details.

(Update - 02/08/15)

If you cannot attend the hearing in person, you may participate in the hearing via teleconference. Simply call 1-855-463-5009 (907-463-5009 if in Juneau) and tell the operator what bill and committee you want to testify on.

(Update - 02/07/2015)

SB 1 has been scheduled for a hearing on WEDNESDAY, February 11th at 1:30 PM (AST), at Butrovich 205. Please plan to attend this hearing. If you are unable to attend, please use the email list below to send in written testimony to the Senate Health and Social Services Committee. 

We have provided talking points on this issue below.

Comma-delimited email list:

Senator.Bert.Stedman@akleg.gov, Senator.Cathy.Giessel@akleg.gov, Senator.Pete.Kelly@akleg.gov, Senator.Bill.Stoltze@akleg.gov, Senator.Johnny.Ellis@akleg.gov

If you haven't already, please take action now and send an email to the HSS Committee

(Original Post - 01/22/15)

Alaska Senator Peter Micciche (R-Soldotna) has again introduced a bill (SB 1) that would ban vaping by including it within Alaska’s definition of “smoking.” This provision is tucked inside a larger bill that would significantly expand Alaska’s existing statewide smoking restrictions. If this bill passes, bars, restaurants and workplaces throughout Alaska will no longer be able to decide for themselves whether to allow or disallow vaping.  

Last year, a bill nearly identical to SB 1 was introduced and made its way through two Senate committees before stalling in the Senate Finance Committee.  Unlike last year’s bill, SB 1 includes an *exemption for vape shops.  However, SB 1 still deceitfully redefines “smoking” to include the use of a smoke-free product and needlessly makes vaping in indoor and outdoor environments a fineable offense.

SB 1 has been assigned to the Senate Health and Social Services Committee.  At this time, no hearing has been scheduled.  We will update this Call to Action as we learn more.

* Correction - The exemption for vapor shops only applies to "freestanding building[s] not attached to another business or to a residence."

In the Alaska House, Representative Bob Herron (D-Bethel) has introduced a bill (HB 40) to add “using an e-cigarette” to Alaska’s definition of “smoking.”  In contrast to SB 1, HB 40 would not expand Alaska’s existing smoking ban. It is not only wrong to define the use of a smoke-free product as “smoking,” but any future changes to Alaska’s smoking ban would automatically also include vaping.

Please take action now to oppose both of these bills:


  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. 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 cigarttes 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 that what IS proposed is still a step backward in public health, not a step forward.

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

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