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.

0:45 - Alabama - Governor is pushing a tax proposal in a special session. While no legislation has been formally introduced, word is that the legislation would impose a 25-cent-per-ml tax. This is ostensibly designed to tax e-cigarettes at the same rate as cigarettes, but it’s not at all clear on how they’re computing the per-pack equivalency. (Currently, cigarettes are taxed at 40 cents a pack.) CASAA’s position, of course, is that any tax beyond a general sales tax imposed on all consumer goods is inappropriate.

A Call to Action for Alabama has been issued. Legislature will be in special session on August 3rd, and it’s imperative that vapers begin communicating with their lawmakers NOW. (By the time special session convenes, much--if not all--of the work has been done, and our input is less effective, so we need to contact legislators BEFORE they go into special session.)

3:45 - Special sessions are increasingly becoming a threat, especially when it comes to taxes because so many budget issues are hammered out in special sessions. Also, legislation can move very quickly during special sessions because there generally aren’t hearings since the sessions are typically designed to be as short as possible.

5:00 - California - SB 140 was amended in committee to remove the definition of e-cigarettes as a tobacco product, and since that was pretty much the main point of the legislation, the bill’s sponsor chose to walk away from the bill. While we consider this a win, we're now on to the second round: SB 140 has basically been reintroduced and repackaged with several other anti-tobacco/anti-e-cigarettes pieces of legislation for consideration during special session. We’ll be issuing a Call to Action in the near future.

It is very important that we continue to fight against any legislation that would define e-cigarettes as tobacco products under California law because tobacco product classification would open up the vapor category to all sorts of other laws/regulations/taxes. For example, there is an initiative underway to obtain sufficient signatures to get a proposition on the next ballot that would raise the tax on “tobacco products"--if that measure were to pass and e-cigarettes were defined as a "tobacco product," vapers will be hit with a huge tax.

11:00 - NotBlowingSmoke is doing a great job of getting information out to the vaping community regarding legislative activities in California, and periodic updates are being provided on the NotBlowingSmoke Facebook page. The California SFATA (NorCal and SoCal) chapters have also been instrumental in rallying the troops in California.

12:45 - On Twitter, the Surgeon General is asking for your quit stories (140 characters or less). If you used a THR product to quit your smoking habit, please consider sharing your story with the Surgeon General on Twitter using the hashtag #StoryForChange. Also, #TransformationTuesday is when the Surgeon General is going to look through everybody’s story. If you prefer, the Surgeon General has a Facebook page, and you can share your story there.

15:00 - Vape Expo New Jersey 2015 - Brief discussion regarding some of the issues surrounding this event, including coverage in mainstream media and problems associated with a state including e-cigarette use in its anti-smoking laws. E-cigarette use has been included in NJ’s clean indoor air laws for several years now, although on a hopeful note, legislation has been introduced that would provide an exemption for vape shops.

As always:
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