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.

1:00 - Massachusetts Call to Action - Joint Committee on Public Health on Tuesday, July 14, 2015 at 1:00 p.m. Several bills that are a serious threat to the vaping industry and consumer access in the state. The Call to Action contains a list of the nine bills to be considered and a brief digest for each.

In addition to several very bad bills, there are some bills that are good (or at least not bad). HB 3466 could use a bit of fleshing out to further define vapor products and make a clear distinction between vapor and smoking, but CASAA is still generally supportive of the thrust of the bill. HB 1951 would prohibit local boards of health from banning the sale of tobacco. (For example, Westminster tried to ban all tobacco and nicotine products last year, but dropped plans to do so after strong opposition from citizens.) HB 1943 regarding THR requires some fine-tuning because this is a somewhat nuanced area.

If you live in Massachusetts and haven’t yet participated in the Call to Action, please do so today.

11:40 - Pennsylvania Call to Action - The Pennsylvania Call to Action involving the governor’s 40% wholesale tax on vapor products and smokeless tobacco has been updated. CASAA released the Call to Action back in March, and almost overnight more than 1,000 new advocates in Pennsylvania participated in the Call to Action and were added to the CASAA membership roster. Pennsylvania has done a remarkable job of building its advocate numbers, and we now have slightly more Pennsylvania members than California members.

Because of the efforts of several dedicated state-level advocates and PA SFATA, the tax was not included in the budget, and the Call to Action has been updated to allow Pennsylvania members to send a thank you note to their legislators in the Pennsylvania Assembly. We strongly encourage people to include a brief paragraph (maybe 3 sentences) about your personal story. The feedback we’ve received is that legislators genuinely want to hear about how these products have benefited their constituents. The e-cigarette opponents paint us as anecdotes and e-cigarettes as ineffective, and our stories counter that. It is VERY important that we include our personal stories in these communications to legislators. The prewritten email for Pennsylvania is only 3 paragraphs long, and it should be easy to simply insert a brief paragraph in there to personalize the communication and let your legislator know how e-cigarettes and/or smokeless tobacco have helped you reduce or eliminate your smoking habit.

16:00 - California - Last Wednesday, July 8, 2015, the Committee on Governmental Organization met and heard testimony regarding SB 140. For now, SB 140 is not going anywhere. However, California is still under threat, and this issue is not dead.

21:45 - The propylene glycol/antifreeze ANTZ (anti-nicotine and tobacco zealots) talking point is starting to come back again. (PG is designed to make antifreeze less toxic, but the anti-e-cigarette people don’t mention that.) We’re seeing a renewed appeal from the ANTZ to promoting chemophobia, a fear of chemicals, in order to scare people away from using e-cigarettes. This tactic preys on the uneducated and is both dishonest and disingenuous. Some of this stems from CDC pumping money into anti-tobacco “education” campaigns.

26:30 - CASAA is looking to the community for donations ($7,500) to our Research Fund so that we can provide a grant for a study which we expect will completely debunk  the so-called gateway effect.

27:30 - This week the House Appropriations Committee approved language which would essentially defund the FDA’s ability to use February 15, 2007 as the grandfather’s date. This is not a “done deal,” and we are expecting significant pushback from e-cigarette opponents. On a related note--and a separate line of attack--the HR 2058 Call to Action is still active, asking representatives to support (and co-sponsor) HR 2058. HR 2058 would change the grandfather date for newly deemed products, allowing existing products to stay on the market without the prohibitive premarket approval application process. It is important that people continue to participate in the HR 2058 Call to Action.

As always:
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