Tuesday, June 30, 2015

CASAA Podcast Update June 29, 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.

0:50 - New York State - Legislature adjourned last week and didn't pass any anti-vaping legislation. Child-resistant packaging bill was passed last year and signed into law this year, and there have been a handful of businesses that have been fined for not complying. So child-resistant packaging is the law in New York, but no flavor ban, no taxes, and no indoor use ban at state level. Public use bans have been creeping across New York State, county by county. So even though state legislature is out of session, vigilance is required at the local level.

2:40 - Connecticut - Late last week, we issued a Call to Action for Connecticut. There were 3 bills in Connecticut this year, and the concern now is that tax language will be inserted into a bill and moved along through the legislature. There is no bill number and no language, but we have credible information that taxes are back in play in Connecticut. If you live in Connecticut, please respond to the Call to Action.

5:00 - Jan Johnson puts out a daily paper (Daily Nicotine) that you can subscribe to, and it includes vaping-, smoking- and nicotine-related news. Helpful source of current news articles.

6:00 - Snohomish County, WA - Subcommittee meeting July 1, 2015 at 5:00 p.m. in Everette, WA. Board of Health considering a county-wide public use ban similar to regulations adopted in neighboring counties. No public comment will be taken at the hearing, but people are welcome to attend. County Board of Health is soliciting comments from county residents, and the Local Alert contains information to allow you to submit comments on the proposed ban. For information (much of it not correct) being put out by the Snohomish County Health District, see here and here.

9:30 - General discussion about where health departments are getting their information and lack of good input from vapers and THR advocates. CASAA is making an effort to provide local alert information, but we rely on locals to use the information to advocate for themselves. People need to remember that a lot of state laws find their genesis in local ordinances, and local challenges will continue year round (and regardless of whether the state legislature is in session). 350 cities/counties/municipalities around the country have passed some sort of regulation regarding vapor products, including public use bans, taxes, licensing, and some packaging. 

12:30 - District of Columbia - Hearing TUESDAY, June 30, 2015 on a district-wide 70% tax on e-cigarettes. 

12:45 - Chicago, IL - Alderman Moreno is looking to raise money for a cash-strapped Chicago by slapping a 20-30% tax on smokeless tobacco, which, like vapor products, is a low-risk alternative to smoking. Proposals to raise the tax on smokeless tobacco reflect a profound lack of understanding of relative risks associated with various products. Even more mind-boggling, these proposals are often accompanied by a recognition that smoking rates are declining. In other words, tax revenue from cigarette sales is down, so they're looking to make up the shortfall by taxing other nicotine-containing products. Moreover, they often claim a public health benefit to discouraging nicotine use, but fail to recognize that there's a public health burden to increasing the cost of low-risk alternatives to smoking.

15:45 - Hawaii - Hawaii raised the smoking/vaping age to 21 and also banned e-cigarette use in various public places. This ostensibly will result in fewer people smoking/buying cigarettes, and a corresponding reduction in the cigarette taxes collected. Now there are complaints that the Hawaii Cancer Center, which is already struggling financially, will receive less funding since it currently receives a portion of the revenue generated by cigarette taxes. (Belies the position that cigarette and tobacco taxes are about public health benefits, not revenue.)

17:00 - General discussion about lack of honesty (and intelligence) in arguments and statements offered by many of the e-cigarette opponents, Stanton Glantz in particular. See herehere and here for very interesting discussions and analyses on that point. Note that states sued the large tobacco companies for misinformation campaigns, and it seems particularly upsetting to see the tobacco control community engaging in the same types of misinformation campaigns with no repercussions. CASAA is exploring alternatives to help hold governmental agencies accountable for misinformation. So-called "public health" organizations should be taking a step back and considering what kind of liability (legal and moral) they have, especially given that many smokers will fail to make the switch (and keep smoking) and some vapers will go back to smoking because of the fear-mongering misinformation. General discussion about lawsuit strategies.

22:30 - Asheville, NC - A few months ago, Asheville amended their smoking ordinance to include e-cigarettes. The law is written such that if a business choses to prohibit smoking in its establishment, it merely needs to put up a "smoking prohibited" sign. But the problem with this law is that if a business wants to allow e-cigarette use, it also has to allow smoking, which most businesses will not want to do. It seems as if there's an opportunity for Asheville residents to go back to their City Council and ask that vaping and smoking be separated so that businesses have more choices. This might be a strategy for vapers to consider in various other municipalities.

29:40 - The following states are wrapping up their legislative sessions Tuesday, June 30, 2015: Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Delaware, and North Carolina. 

Oregon legislative session ends July 11, 2015, California is expected to end September 11, 2015, and Massachusetts will be in session until mid-November. 

States with legislative sessions lasting the entire year: Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan. (New Jersey's legislative session lasts until January 2, 2016.)

32:20 - Federal - We continue to follow a federal appropriations bill that would have the effect of forcing a change of the grandfather date. The diverse vapor industry is stepping up to the plate on this, urging support.  Call to Action for HR 2058 is still active. A new sponsor for HR 2058 was added last week, but it is still a partisan bill with no Democrat sponsors. 

34:20 - FDA Workshop Comment - deadline July 2, 2015. Note that there are THREE active Calls to Action on this, all of which are due THURSDAY, JULY 2, 2015: First FDA Workshop CTA, Second FDA Workshop CTA, and Third FDA Workshop CTA

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