If you haven’t heard about this yet – you must be living under a rock! The Utah Smoke Free Association in partnership with the Wyoming chapter of SFATA with help from Mystix & Straight Line Vapors in Wyoming, have been planning a massive end of summer vape event like no other. This isn’t a trade show. There are no vendor booths. This is an event for YOU, the every day vaper.
The Casino Vape Party is going to be the largest regional event in our dual state history. It is scheduled for August 8th at 7pm in Evanston Wyoming (we have hotel blocks set aside). We have over 35 sponsors who have come together to make this possible. Under the “big top” tent, we will have:
- Beer (for the 21 and over crowd), soda for everyone else
- Gift bags valued at over $100 for the first 50 to show up
- OVER $4000 in prizes
Click here for the party page and the Facebook invite for full details but make plans to attend this awesome event!by
So the District of Columbia, better known as Washington DC, recently passed a vapor tax of 70% on wholesale against every vapor product sold in that area. This includes all liquids containing nicotine and hardware sold for use with the e-liquid. All industry analysts are calling this the highest tax in the country for our industry and firmly believe it will bankrupt the DC vapor businesses within 6 months of the tax going into effect.
This will happen to our industry in Utah if we cannot keep the taxation defeated. So I ask everyone reading this, if you are a vapor business owner in Utah and you have a desire to remain in business and possibly retire within the industry, what are YOU doing to help combat this and protect your rights to remain in business? If you are a consumer, what are YOU doing to help keep this from happening? The local and state level can shut us down faster than any federal regulation can and it’s a very real threat here.
Please, if you want to remain in business and continue to serve the Utah public and help Utah smokers make a positive change in their lives, we need YOU to get involved today! Use the contact form above to let us know of your commitment and ask how you can contribute financially or in other ways to keep everyone in Utah in business.
Hey my vaping family, just a reminder to everyone that the summer heat is upon us in Utah (100+ for the next week). Do NOT leave your devices or spare batteries in the car while you go shop or leave any spare batteries in the glove box where you might forget about them. The heat can cause interior vehicle temperatures to soar resulting in batteries (of any kind) going thermal. This is not a good thing for anything containing a battery.
Be smart and don’t leave your devices, phones, MP3 players or anything else with a battery (this obviously includes children or pets) in your car in this heat!
For more safety information on Lithium Ion batteries, make sure you check out Battery University who has the most comprehensive information on batteries available today! http://batteryuniversity.com/learn/article/lithium_ion_safety_concernsby
Because the Utah Smoke Free Association is committed to ensuring our Utah vapor speciality businesses remains operational and our vaping community remains in tact, we are passing this critical update out to everyone.
We received confirmation this week that the licensing application with the Utah state tax commission is now ready and should be submitted immediately to ensure you remain in compliance with the new regulations passed during the last legislative session. If you sell e-cigarette or vapor products of any kind and do not receive this license, you will not be permitted to continue to sell these products. If you happen to have a tobacco license, this license should not be required but we recommend calling the tax commission to confirm.
You can find the form here: http://tax.utah.gov/forms/current/tc-69.pdf and will need to complete sections 1, 2, 12 & 14. After a review of the application, you should not be required to provide a Surety Bond (unless you sell traditional tobacco products) but if they ask for it, please let a member of the board know before purchasing.
The license is a $30 fee which our understanding is for a 3 year period of time; however we strongly recommend confirming this when you submit the application. It is a bit unclear on dedicated liquid manufacturing facilities if a license will be required (you DO need the county manufacturing permit) so I recommend for those that are, to call the Utah Tax Commission to confirm (please let us know). Anyone that is in the distribution side likely will also need the state permit however we have not been able to reach the office to confirm this.
Click the link below for details on the current laws and regulations on the state level which includes the specifics from the recent legislative session. You can also review the known laws and regulations at the state and county level by visiting our “Utah Laws” page. If you have any questions on the application process or run into any problems with filing, please let us know immediately.by
Something big is happening in Congress this week. Your U.S. House Representative is on an important committee needs to hear from you. Please read the below information carefully and follow the instructions.
Thursday, June 25, 2015 (Postponed until sometime after the 4th of July holiday weekend), the U.S. House Appropriations Committee will consider an appropriations funding bill that contains a provision that is vital to the future of the e-cigarette and vapor product market. This bill would ensure that FDA regulation does not lead to 99%+ of vapor products being removed from the market (i.e., banned).
There are 53 members of this committee and U.S. House representative Chris Stewart from Utah is one of them. He needs to hear from everyone in his district.
This needs action by Thursday June 25th.
Click here for details on HR2058: Support HR 2058 Briefing
District 2 boundaries: https://www.govtrack.us/congress/members/UT/2 (all points South of Kaysville to I-80, including Tooele county then 1-15 at Scipio south to the Utah border, including Cedar City, St George & Washington)
Please review the map at the above link to closely to determine your location within the district. If you are not in district 2, you may disregard this message.
I recommend following up your phone call with an email and tweets supporting the call you made. His phone numbers, email and twitter details are as follows:
DC Office: 202-225-9730
It is CRITICAL that before Thursday, you reach out to Representative Stewart at their DC office and speak to a staff member about two things:
- Why they should support the Section 747 (Page 86) of the funding bill the House Appropriations Committee will consider on Thursday
- Why they should cosponsor H.R. 2058, which will make the changes permanent.
*BUSINESS OWNERS — IMPORTANT INFO*
– Call the D.C. office of your Congress representative during normal office hours. The number can be found on their website.
– Do NOT just communicate your position to the person who answered the phone. You are a business owner in the Congressman or Congresswoman’s district — you can get further up the chain than a normal person but you will need to ask.
– Tell the operator that picks up:
My name is ____. I am a small business owner in Rep. Stewart’s district. There is a vote coming up in the Appropriations Committee on Thursday that is extremely important to my business, my employees, and my customers. Before Thursday, I was hoping I could speak to either Rep. Stewart or a member of his staff that deals with Appropriations Committee issues.”
– If they ask you for a summary of the issue:
“On Thursday, the Appropriations Committee will consider a funding bill for the FDA and other agencies. I want Rep.Stewart to support Section 747 of the bill and fight back against any attempts to remove it. It would save my business from being shut down by overbearing FDA regulations. I want Rep. Stewart to know that this bill would not stop the FDA from regulating e-cigarettes and vapor products, but it would just stop them from banning over 99% of products already on the market. Without this fix, my business and thousands of other stores just like mine will be shut down. Additionally, I’d like him / her to co-sponsor HR 2058, which would make the fix permanent.”
Remember, before Thursday, you want to talk to a staffer who works on Appropriations Committee issues about this issue.
If you can generate calls from your employees / customers, GREAT. The simple message that they should deliver is this: “Please co-sponsor HR 2058.” That’s it. Just tell them to leave an address but make sure you are in his district otherwise the message will likely be ignored or passed over to another Rep that cannot take action.by
Just a quick summary on the legislative hearing from this week. We had representation from myself and your board president Tad Jensen. Also attending the meeting from the statewide industry was EB Vapors, Vapor Logic and Peak Vapor. We have always been an association dedicated to representing this industry and it’s consumers in the best possible manner and we were proud to once again be at the forefront of the issue to meet with the committee members and discuss the perils of taxation. Our lobbyists also were working hard behind the scenes to speak with the chair and various members ahead of time and it was obvious throughout the hearing that our message was heard.
The committee was first presented with a “state of business” as it relates to taxation of tobacco products and a brief summary of the laws that passed during the recent session. The Utah Tax commission then spoke about the complexities associated with taxing the industry; which as we all know, even if it happens will not be a simple task like it is with tobacco.
Members of the committee approached the issue with an open mind and asked all the right questions. It was asked several times by more than one committee member why we would want to tax a product that is quite obviously reducing the harm for smokers; even referred to the zero nicotine products as “mormon cigarettes” (LOL). Besides those from the industry mentioned above, there were 2 medical professionals that testified but in my humble opinion, were lackluster in their content.
Overall, the committee was very open and seemed to be supportive of what we are doing as an industry to help the smokers and their loved ones throughout the state. Several from the committee even expressed a desire to visit a few shops and experience the products. No decisions were made at the hearing so this topic will continue to be discussed at future hearings.
In closing I want to thank Stonne from EB, Josh from Vapor Logic, Austin from Peak Vapor and Tad from ElectronicStix/UTSFA for their support of the industry. Everyone represented our views very well and handled themselves with a high level of decorum.
You can read a bit more on the write up the Deseret News did on the hearing here: http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865630930/Lawmakers-resume-deliberations-of-possible-e-cigarette-tax.html?pg=all
And the Utah Political News write up here: http://utahpoliticalcapitol.com/2015/06/22/e-cigarettes-to-tax-or-not-to-tax-lawmakers-take-a-look/#by
After defeating the attempts of vapor industry taxation during the 2013 and 2015 legislative session, a promise was made by Representative Paul Ray that it was not the end and the taxation would return. We now have the unfortunate duty to report that the Revenue and Taxation Interim Committee will be discussing this taxation at their upcoming legislative committee hearing.
Hearing Details: Wednesday, June 17, 2015 • 2:30 p.m. • Room 445, Main State Capitol building
The Utah Smoke Free Association will be at the hearing with our lobbying team to oppose any and all attempts to penalize our industry with an excise (sin) tax. We ask that you please email and call the members of the committee requesting that they oppose this attack on vapor products, which are a scientifically documented reduced-risk substitute for smoking. Please contact the members of the interim committee via email, twitter (where available) and phone and ask them to reject any attempt to apply excise taxes on products that Utah residents are using to remain tobacco & smoke-free.
We also encourage you to reach out to your individual legislative representatives and ask for their support in opposing all attempts to apply a punitive tax against you as a voter. If you don’t know who represents you, you can locate them here: http://le.utah.gov/GIS/findDistrict.jsp
Semicolon separated email list: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com;
Comma separated email list: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com,
Twitter List (please tag @utsmokefree in all tweets if room allows)
Suggested talking points:
- Vapor products are already taxed as consumer products and most public policy experts believe that raising the cost of vapor products would create a disincentive for smokers to transition to these tobacco-free and smoke-free products.
- In the last 5 years, vapor products have helped an estimated 15,000 adult Utah smokers successfully switch to a scientifically documented less harmful and smoke-free alternative. Increasing the costs of products that stand to improve these peoples’ health risks re-exposing thousands of Utah’s children back to second hand smoke exposure which flies in the face of the public health initiatives.
- Utah is recognized as one of the best places to start a business and Vapor specialty retailers and manufacturers occupy an estimated 65,000 sq feet and approximately 75 leased years of property throughout the state of Utah. A punitive tax risks destroying all of this.
- Raising taxes on vapor products will have a net-opposite effect due to over 50 main-street Utah businesses closing their doors due to the inability to compete in the global industry; placing the burden on the state due to over 500 Utah families on unemployment, in bankruptcy and in the state assistance programs.
CASAA and other organizations will be releasing similar calls to action so the response is expected to be large. Make sure you indicate in your email and phone calls that you are a Utah resident (include the city) so they recognize you are a voting delegate. If you are a supporter of the UTSFA or any other state or national THR Advocacy association, please include that in the closing of your email as well.
We encourage you to post any responses you receive in the comments here so everyone can see the details of the replies. The hearing is open to the public and testimony is encouraged from every shop owner, manufacturer and consumer statewide. If you choose to attend and testify, please review the tips on testimony in a legislative environment.
If anyone has any questions on this, please feel free to use the contact form above to get in touch with the board of directors.by
The Utah Smoke Free Association needs everyone’s help. We are within a month of not having sufficient funds to pay our lobbyists for the remainder of the year. What this means is that we will lose our inside track to fighting bad taxation, bad regulation and bad press. The industry NEEDS our lobbyists to fight for the rights of every shop and every vaper in the state, but sadly it appears we will be unable to continue this fight.
This organization was founded on the principals of fighting for the rights of EVERYONE but it takes everyone’s involvement to help fund the fight. If you are a business owner and you want to be in business a year from now or are a vaper who believes in keeping the business local to support Utah consumers, we need your help. Even if you own a business or know someone who owns a business who would like to help keep our industry alive, please get involved today!
Please see the “Organization Update” post below for more information on how YOU can get involved! We cannot fight this fight without YOU!
Your board of directors and officers met last week for our regularly scheduled board meeting and wanted to share a few important updates with everyone.
First off, we officially welcomed Tad Jensen as President and Eddie Mock as the Social Media and Promotions manager into our ranks. They are excited to represent everyone and are bringing some awesome ideas of which will be announced in the next few weeks. We met with our lobbyists to understand the current climate at the capital and around the state. He was provided with education from the board and has committed to helping us get in front of many different forums to try and protect every business owner in the state. More on this in a minute…
For a bit of history, the Utah Smoke Free Association (formally the Utah Vapers) was founded out of passion for the industry by a consumer with a goal to bring the vaping community together, consumers and vendors alike. It was formed as an outlet to bring the community together and have fun but also as a method to communicate with everyone when important battles needed to be fought. At the time of the formation, the industry was just coming under fire and faced a very real threat of extinction before it had a chance to live. With limited resources, great personal sacrifices and only a few thousand dollars annually, we were able to fight off bad legislation for 3 out of 4 years. In November of 2014, the organization was formalized as a federally registered 501(c)4 trade association and we hired lobbyists to take our industry to a new level and help protect us in ways we can’t individually fight as an industry.
Today, the organization is funded exclusively through professional and consumer membership dues and any donations we happen to receive. Approximately 80% of our funding received goes to paying our lobbyists with the remaining 20% paying for administrative and organizational expenses (this IS a business with expenses). We do have a goal to reduce the administrative funding to 10% but the first year is generally more expensive due to set-up costs. Nobody on the board has ever nor will ever receive a salary and this is part of our legal filings with the IRS. Yes there is a cost for joining the trade association however lobbyists, websites, printing, etc are not free.
With that said, we pay our lobbyists (we have 2) the total sum of $60,000/year and make this payment on a quarterly basis. Considering the going rate of a professional lobbyist, this is a steal considering that we get 2 for the price of 1. We currently have paid them through July 1st which means they have been paid a total sum of $30,000 to date. We need to pay them another $30,000 to keep them on staff through the end of the year. We currently have a balance in our account of $9363 and change which means we are $5700 short in retaining them for the 3rd quarter of the year and $20,637 for the full year; which does not include any funds for operational costs. Without our lobbying team, the very livelihood of the industry in Utah is at tremendous risk. During the next legislative session, we will be fighting taxation, regulations and any number of other attempts to control our industry in ways that cannot be effectively fought during public hearings. We need to fight to protect the rights of each business owner due to city/county level errors in licensing that are already costing our industry hundreds of thousands of dollars due to public policy incompetence. This is where the lobbyists come in. They have the political relationships at the capitol, relationships with the health departments, relationships with cities & counties and a level of expertise in politics none of us ever will. Simply put, if we cannot fund them, we as an industry will not survive.
As it stands today, our membership consists of 19 retail locations, 1 dedicated e-liquid manufacturing facility, 2 distributors and 3 affiliate members for a total of 25 members (see the Membership Directory for a full list of all members). Statewide, we estimate there are around 45 retail shops and approximately 10 dedicated manufacturers. In order to retain our lobbyists for the Utah industry to survive, we need every vapor industry business owner, every consumer and all others who support the goals we are trying to achieve to dig deep and get involved. Associations such as the Utah Smoke Free Association bridges the gap between the local, state and federal levels. Membership is open to vaping industry businesses located, or with a business interest, in the Utah market. Participation in organizations like this are key for your survival in this industry. Details of the costs of joining can be found on our membership & benefits document.
We have worked hard for 4 years to fight the political rhetoric spewed forth by our media, legislators, health departments and public. We have proven time and time again that we are part of the solution, not part of the problem. Your board and officers all strongly feel that if we cannot regulate ourselves, it will be done for us whether we like it or not. So this is your chance to prove it to not only your customers, but to the Utah public. Let’s fight this rhetoric together as a community instead of fighting internally and against one another.
If you know of any vapor industry or corporate sponsor that would like join and show their support, they can demonstrate this support by joining or donating to the association. Simply send them to our website and click the “Join Us” link on the Professional Membership page to fill out the membership form. After submitting, a member of the board will be in touch as soon as possible. If you don’t want to join but do want to contribute to the fight, you can donate via PayPal on our donation page.
Lastly, some have called into question our funding and as per our IRS requirements, our annual tax filings are always available upon official request. To date, we have not received any requests however for transparency, we are publishing it here for anyone to view that is interested. Keep in mind, the UTSFA was officially formed in November 2014 therefore 2014 is the only filing available. It is posted below so feel free to review at your leisure and if you have any questions, you may use the Contact link to send an email to the Board of Directors.
As always, we are here to protect the business owners rights to operate and the consumers right to vape so vape on and vape strong my friends and family!by
The FDA Deeming Authority Clarification Act of 2015 (HR 2058), introduced by Representative Tom Cole of Oklahoma, would save the U.S. vapor industry from being decimated by improper regulations by the FDA. This bill would amend the Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act to change the grandfather date for “deemed tobacco products.” This change would allow for all vapor products currently on the market to remain on the market without being subject to the burdensome (read: prohibitive) pre-market FDA approval application process.
While CASAA and the UTSFA maintains the position that a separate regulatory scheme should be developed for vapor products*, we are proud to support HR 2058.
We are asking consumers to express strong support for HR 2058 and urge your representatives to co-sponsor this bill.
Please share this link on social media:
We are also asking members who are not residents in Representative Cole’s district to send a written letter by traditional means. You can print out our pre-written letter here. We have provided the mailing address to his Norman, OK office below. As usual, you are encouraged to write your own letter adding your personal story, but feel free to copy ours.
Rep. Tom Cole
Additionally, residents in Kentucky, North Carolina, California, and Florida living in a district represented by one of the sponsors of H.R. 2058 will be receiving a separate email that links to a message tailored to offering support for the effort of their congressmen.
CASAA Legislative Team
(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.
*Although CASAA feels that moving the grandfather date to a point in time that will protect consumer access to the current variety of vapor products on the market is a step in the right direction, this is by no means an ideal solution. Consumers should keep in mind that if this Act is adopted by Congress, innovations in safety, quality, and variety of devices and liquids essentially will be frozen at the time the FDA deeming regulation is finalized. Moreover, this change in the grandfather date will not exempt manufacturers from registering their products with the FDA, a process that will still remove a large number of vapor products from the market. CASAA maintains the position that a separate regulatory scheme should be developed for this product category.