Thursday, July 30, 2015

Howard Co., MD - Local Alert! Oppose and indoor vaping ban!

Howard County, MD

Indoor Vaping Ban

The County Council will be considering a bill (Council Bill 26-2015) that would deceptively redefine smoking to include the use of an electronic cigarette. Although this regulation would allow for certain exemptions -- the same exemptions allowed for smoking -- vaping would be prohibited in thousands of workplaces and other public spaces throughout the county.

Please make plans to attend this hearing:

Banneker Room, George Howard Building
3430 Court House Drive
Ellicott City, MD

Please take a moment now to email the council members urging them to oppose this bill. We have provided contact information and talking points below.

Howard County, MD - County Council

Jon Weinstein
Gary L.Smith
(Special Assistant)
Dr. Calvin Ball
Kim Pruim
(Special Assistant)
Jen Terrasa
Kate McCleod
(Special Assistant)

Mary Kay Sigaty
Mary Clay
(Special Assistant)
Greg Fox
Karen Knight
(Special Assistant)

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

Indoor Vaping Ban

Suggested Talking Points - Indoor Use
  • (Please choose a few of the points below -- topics you are most comfortable discussing.)

  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 cigarettes 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 website, as well as the CASAA Research Library, for more information.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

CASAA Podcast Update July 27, 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.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

CASAA Podcast Update July 20, 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.

Alabama Call to Action! Oppose new taxes on e-cigarettes and vapor products!

Update 09.30.15 - Call to Action successfully concluded.

On Monday, July 13th, 2015, Alabama Governor Robert Bentley announced that the state legislature would be heading back into special session to hash out the details of the state’s budget. One of the proposals to be discussed will be a revived version of an earlier e-cigarette tax bill.

The special session will reconvene on Monday, August 3rd, 2015. It is vital that Alabama vapers and harm reduction advocates take this opportunity NOW to reach out to lawmakers urging them to oppose ANY new tax on vapor products.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

CASAA Podcast Update July 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.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Massachusetts! Take action NOW to protect adult access to vapor products from multiple threats!

Several bills are scheduled to be heard in the Joint Committee on Public Health on Tuesday, July 14th at 1:00 PM. We have provided a summary of the bills below. You will see that the proposed regulations range from obvious (prohibiting sales to minors), to predictable (public vaping ban), to dangerous (requiring burdensome testing by manufacturers that would result in all or most e-liquids being banned from sale in MA, raising the age to purchase ALL “tobacco products” to 21 -- even low-risk, smoke-free products like snus and e-cigarettes).

Legislative Summary:

HB 1954 (Same as SB 1137):
  • Redefines “tobacco products” to include “electronic cigarettes” and other vapor products
  • Prohibits the sale of “tobacco products” in any retail establishment that “operates or has a health care institution within it, such as a pharmacy, optician/optometrist, or drug store…”

HB 2050 (Same as SB 1119):
  • Redefines “tobacco products” to include “electronic cigarettes” and other vapor products
  • Prohibits the use of “tobacco products” in schools
  • Prohibits the sale of “tobacco products” to any person under the age of 18
  • Redefines “smoking” or “smoke” to include the use of “electronic cigarettes” and other vapor products.
  • Prohibits vaping in public places where smoking is currently banned.

  • Would require manufacturers to file annual reports with the MA Department of Health which identify the “concentration of any toxins contained in the vapor produced by an e-cigarette when used…”
  • Provides an outrageous fine -- $10,000 per day -- for understating the concentrations of toxins within a range to be determined by the DOH.

  • Directs the Department of Public Health to develop regulations “for restricting the marketing, labeling, and restricting youth access to so-called ‘Other Tobacco Products’.”

  • Redefines “tobacco product” to include “electronic cigarettes” and other vapor products.
  • Prohibits the sale of “tobacco products” to anyone under the age of 21.

  • Would require “tobacco retailers” to conspicuously post a sign directing customers to the Massachusetts Tobacco Cessation & Prevention Program and The Smokers Helpline.

Despite the numerous bills that CASAA opposes, there are a few that can be considered thoughtful and appropriate:

  • HB 1943 would direct the Department of Public Health to conduct a study on the use of Tobacco Harm Reduction as a means to reducing smoking rates. While the Bill as currently written is seriously problematic, CASAA is attempting to engage with the sponsor to help it meet its positive goals.
  • HB 1951 would prohibit local Boards of Health from banning the sale of legal “tobacco products.” (You may remember an incident from 2014 when Westminster, MA attempted to implement a ban on all tobacco sales.)
  • HB 3466 would prohibit sales of vapor products to anyone under the age of 18 and manages to do so without confusing vapor products with combustible cigarettes.

(Writing Tip #1) If you have a lot to say, please craft your email in a separate word doc and then copy/paste it into the field provided.  If you take too long, they system will time out and you will lose your work.
(Writing Tip #2) Although we've provided a prewritten email with compelling talking points, we would strongly encourage you to edit the email because personalized communications to legislators are far more persuasive than form letters.  At a minimum, PLEASE INSERT YOUR PERSONAL STORY (just a few sentences) in the text of your email.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

CASAA Podcast Update July 6, 2015

CASAA's Chief Scientific Officer, Carl V Phillips, joins Jan Johnson and Alex Clark to discuss the launch of CASAA's fundraising efforts to provide a grant to research the gateway claim and legislative- and advocacy-related matters of current interest to CASAA members and THR (tobacco harm reduction) advocates.

0:45 - California - Hearing on SB 140 in the Committee on Governmental Organization on Wednesday, July 8, 2015. California residents, please see the Call to Action to send a prewritten (fully editable) email to your legislator. While the Call to Action is open to all California residents, it is particularly important that those who live in districts with a legislator who serves on the committee participate in the Call to Action. Emails were sent to people with legislators on the committee, so if you received an email, it is vital that you respond. NorCal SFATA has been doing an excellent job of providing up-to-date information on SB 140 and has also issued a NorCal SFATA Call to Action, and we strongly recommend watching their site for updates. (NorCal SFATA can be found here on Facebook.) NorCal SFATA is organizing a get-together in Sacramento starting at 10:30 a.m. (hearing at 1:30 p.m.) on Wednesday, July 8th, 2015 in front of the Capitol Building. 

2:40 - Massachusetts - Expect a Call to Action this week.

3:00 - CASAA announces a crowdsourcing plan for a new research project, to be launched Tuesday, July 7, 2015. CASAA created the Research Fund in 2013, and its inaugural project was to give a grant to Dr. Igor Burstyn to review the research regarding the chemistry of e-cigarette vapor and liquid and provide an analysis of its health implications. This is probably still the most important paper on the topic of e-cigarettes. CASAA's goal with the Research Fund is to identify very high bang-for-the-buck research that will be important for THR advocacy, and we believe we have identified another such project to provide the definitive rebuttal of the various gateway claims.

The gateway claim is a classic strategy employed by those seeking to condemn a low-risk drug or behavior but can't come up with any good reason to do so based on its actual effects. Therefore, they claim that the relatively low-risk drug/behavior causes people to go on to do something that is harmful. The current gateway claim regarding e-cigarettes is that that e-cigarettes will cause people to take up smoking. 

Some may wonder why a research paper should be done to refute such a bogus claim. The answer is that, sadly, the unsupported gateway claim is gaining traction among policy-makers and legislators. In fact, the gateway claim comes up in almost every single legislative hearing involving e-cigarettes, even those where the issue is wholly unrelated to the legislation. It's even part of the FDA's discussion. As obvious as it is that the claim is absurd, we don't have something we can point to as the definitive rebuttal of all the gateway claims. 

Phillips has published a working paper on gateway effects here that basically shows what research would be needed to provide any evidence whatsoever that a gateway effect is occurring, but this paper is a highly technical methods paper and is not optimized for advocacy purposes. The research project being proposed will be led by Dr. Karyn Heavner, who has been working with Phillips on THR for 7-8 years, and joined by Catherine Nissen and Carl V Phillips, all of whom worked together at the University of Alberta on THR issues. The research team will review all of the papers, blogs, and other claims (including testimony and postings on authoritative websites) that are being put out there as evidence that there is a gateway effect and analyze those claims. To our knowledge, not a single one of these papers or blog posts actually comes anywhere close to providing evidence that there is a gateway effect, but there is a great deal of legwork and honest analysis to be done to identify where these claims are being made, to analyze the basis for the claims being made, and to trace the sources of the claims. The hypothesis is that many statements of gateway effect claims ultimately trace back to a few papers, which papers will be identified and analyzed to see if they do or do not support a gateway effect hypothesis.

The budget for the project is $15,000, and the CASAA Board of Directors voted to match donations to the fund one-for-one (up to $7,500 in contributions), meaning that we need the community to donate $7,500 to the research fund to fully fund this project. 

11:45 - The gateway theory is increasingly reflected in news stories and, distressingly, comments by the public, the people we are trying to win over. It is important for us to refute those claims, and it would be particularly effective if we were able to provide a single link to one research paper from a journal that fully rebuts each and every one of those claims. (Discussion of how the study could be used in advocacy efforts.)

14:00 - For those who may be interested, about ten years ago, Phillips traced the origins of claims about smokeless tobacco causing oral cancer back to a “telephone game” that traced back to a single study which was not sufficient to support the claims. 

15:30 - No one seems to even make a prima facie case for why a gateway would exist, and proponents of the gateway effect don't actually explain what it is that they are claiming. They mostly just cite data that shows that many teenagers and young adults who have smoked have also tried e-cigarettes, which, of course, doesn't prove the point that they're trying to make. In other words, they interpret mere correlation as causation. Moreover, they interpret it as all being in the gateway direction, when we know that there is a causal connection in the other direction: smoking causing people to adopt e-cigarettes for THR.

18:00 - CASAA believes that tracing where the claims about gateway effects come from will be incredibly useful. 

19:00 - Donations for the Research Fund can be made by clicking the Donate button located here.

Donations in any amount are welcome. Even very modest donations are valuable -- aside from the fact that they add up, they show broad-based support. The community has always been generous in supporting CASAA efforts, especially in connection with research. The Research Fund's initial launch to fundraise to support the Burstyn study was incredibly successful, reaching full funding in a matter of days.

22:00 - For those who want more detailed information on the research plan and protocol, you can see links provided in our announcement here. CASAA made the decision to support this research because we believe it would offer an important reality check for the policy and advocacy discussion, and also because we are committed to discovering and sharing truthful and accurate information. As consumer advocates, we are uniquely interested in learning the truth and making sure that all relevant information is shared with consumers.

As always:
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