Tuesday, April 14, 2015

CASAA Podcast Update April 13, 2015

CASAA's Jan Johnson and Alex Clark discuss legislative- and advocacy-related matters of current interest to CASAA members and THR (tobacco harm reduction) advocates.

0:40 – Hawaii – Hawaii is fortunate to have Hawaii Vapers United, a local group that is organized and paying attention to the massive amount of legislation. Hawaii Vapers United has created a tool to help vapers offer testimony online. In Hawaii (and California) the concern is that once vapor products are defined anywhere in state law as tobacco products, it makes it easier to impose more onerous requirements as well as an excise tax.

4:50 – Oregon – SB 417, which was a licensing bill without a great deal of support, was expected to die in committee. On Friday (4-10) The sponsor of SB 417 apparently realized this as well, so he gutted another (unrelated) bill, inserting the SB 417 language into it, and a hearing was set for Monday (4-13).

7:20 – Local Alerts –

            7:30 - Riverbank, CA – Currently has a moratorium on hookah and vapor lounges, and they’re now talking about lifting the moratorium and allowing businesses to seek conditional use permits. It is a step in the right direction, but there are still too many restrictions on where these businesses can be located. Hearing Tuesday (4-14-15).

            11:20 - El Cerrito, CA – Hearing Wednesday (4-15-15) re vaping as smoking for purposes of smoking prohibitions, no self-service displays, prohibiting samples, flavor ban, and possible moratorium on new shops.

            13:20 – Livermore, CA – Prohibit e-cigarette use wherever smoking is prohibited, hearing Monday (4-13-15).

            13:40 – Hughson, CA – Prohibit e-cigarette use wherever smoking prohibited. Hearing Monday (4-13-15).

            14:00 – Prior Lake, MN – Licensing, prohibit sampling, ban e-cigarette use wherever smoking prohibited. Hearing Monday (4-13-15). Minnesota Vapers Advocacy (MNVA) has issued a Call to Action on this as well.

15:20 – Delaware – HB 5 is now out of committee and could be heard by the House as soon as April 20th. (Editor’s note: Delaware CTA updated Monday, 4-13-15.)

16:20 – Louisiana – HB 427 tax bill (5 cent per ml and double the wholesale tax on smokeless tobacco). We have a Call to Action done, but we are waiting to hear from some local advocates before formally issuing it. (Editor's note: The description here will be updated to provide the link to the Louisiana Call to Action was formally issued.) (Edited 4-20-15 to add the link to the Louisiana Call to Action.)

18:00 – Discussion about high smokeless tobacco taxes in general.

20:20 – Maine – LD1108 banning e-cigarette use wherever smoking is prohibited (and offering no exemption for use in vape shops).  Hearing set for Monday (4-13-15).

22:10 – Massachusetts – Will be issuing a Call to action this week regarding MA Attorney General’s proposed rules, 940 CRM, that would bring vapor products under the tobacco regulations (advertising restrictions, no sales to minors, online sales restrictions, etc.). Since this is being done by the AG, there is no action necessary by legislature. Hearing set for April 24th, and MA residents can submit comments up until that point. (We will be issuing a CTA to assist MA residents in making their comments.) SFATA’s Massachusetts chapter and New England Vapers are getting actively involved in this battle.  (Editor’s note: Also tracking and considering issuing Calls to Action for H2434 (tax) and H2050 (defines e-cigarettes as a tobacco product and would impose barriers to adult access.)

28:00 – Minnesota – SF2025 (tax increase) set for a hearing on Wednesday (4-15-15). MNVA is actively involved and has issued a Call to Action. MN is currently the only state with a tax on vapor products, and this would represent a massive increase in that tax.

29:30 – Discussion of Laffer Curve. There is a point at which higher taxes actually generate less revenue and encourage black market.  Particularly a problem with New York.

36:20 – Discussion about the importance of vapers becoming a significant political force. (Consider homeschoolers who are smaller in number than vapers, but have managed to profoundly influence politics.)

40:45 – FDA has issued warning letters to retailers who have made claims that products are FDA approved or FDA regulated.

42:10 – Altria has released its advocacy website, and consumers are going to need to address astroturfing (not just by the tobacco companies, but also by industry in general). Attacks by e-cigarette opponents claiming that true grassroots advocacy is actually run by “Big Tobacco” or “Big Vapor.” (Editor's note: CASAA is urging consumers NOT to sign up with Altria's advocacy website.)

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