Utah Regulation Update

regulationsThe regulations that were part of HB415 from the 2015 session are basically designed and signed off by all members of the task force. It was a long and arduous journey to get them to this point but as of July 1, all the following regulations take effect. A full summary has been provided to our organization membership on Friday along with this “Cliff’s Notes” style document which is our version of the regulation. You can review the official regulations draft from the health department here: R384-415 Ecig Rule Amendment (DRAFT).

In short, every e-liquid bottle sold in Utah will be required to have the following at a minimum:

  1. the label is smear resistant; and
  2. the label clearly displays:
    • the nicotine content in mg/mL or percent by volume which meets requirements of Section R384-415-7;
    • the manufacturer name;
    • the batch/lot number;
    • the ingredients, as required in Section R384-415-4 and Section R384-415-9;
    • a tamper-evident warning, which meets the requirements of Section R384-415-5; and
    • a safety warning, which meets the requirements of Section R384-415-6
  3. Child-resistant cap that aligns with the Child Nicotine Poisoning Prevention Act of 2015
  4. Tamper-evident seal consisting of a break-away cap ring OR heat-shrink bands
  5. Manufacturers MUST maintain full batch data tracking all information contained in the regulations as outlined for a minimum of 2 years from the date of manufacture and be able to provide it to the retailers within 5 business days as required by the health department.

We are in the process of reviewing as many products sold through our member retailers as possible to determine which ones will need to be modified so they can be sold in the state. Each of the retailers will be contacting their individual suppliers with this information in the coming days.

The tamper-evident warning and the safety warning will be allowed as an after-market warning label of which we are in the process of designing for the retail points of sale within our organization. These after-market labels will be available at no cost to our organization members however in time, we will have them available for sale to any other retail operation that requires them.

If any other piece of the required information not be included on the manufacturers labels, the product will no longer be eligible for sale in Utah after July 1 2016.

If you are a manufacturer or a retailer and have any questions on this, please use the contact form above to reach out and a member of our team will contact you as soon as possible. Also if any national e-liquid manufacturer is willing to help with the costs associated with the after-market labels so we can continue to sell your products here, please let us know via the contact form.

[UPDATE] There have been lots of questions and confusion on the warning labels and requirements. I’ve put together this 10 minute video which I hope helps to explain things a bit more. We will also be happy to review all label redesigns whether they be from Utah or outside Utah to ensure they meet the requirements to be sold here. Please let us know if you have any questions or need assistance.

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2016 Legislative Session

Utah Capitol

The 2016 Legislative session starts on Monday January 25th. We’re expecting a volatile session fighting for the rights of our Utah vaping industry, our consumers and our future consumers. This year, we are fully expecting the following to in the forefront of our battles:

  • Vapor product taxation (bill pre-filed by Rep. Ray, not numbered)
  • H.B. 157 Age Limit for Tobacco and Related Products
  • Unknown regulations, possibly including
    • Advertising ban
    • Total online sales ban
    • Other unknown regulations
    • Manufacturing regulations
    • Retail sales regulations

Rep Ray has also partnered with a new student organization in Northern Utah called “Students Against Electronic Vaping”. While we are proud of our young residents for getting involved in issues they feel passionate about, we do feel their efforts are misguided. We shouldn’t have to remind our health departments, our legislature and our public what the real focus needs to be. Instead of fighting the vapor industry who is fighting against the tobacco industry, everyone should be focused on saving the 1,100 lives lost every year in Utah due to combustible tobacco.

Instead of using children to politicize a potential tax and deeper regulations on vapor products that are helping millions of ADULTS to remain smoke free, we believe the debate should focus on saving the lives of the Utah smokers. Continued attempts to tax and regulate vapor products in the same way as cigarettes is the wrong approach, potentially leading adults back to smoking deadly cigarettes. We all agree on the need to keep vapor products out of the hands of minors but applying tax and regulation that risks pushing 25,000 Utah ex-smokers back to smoking or preventing the over 225,000 smokers from switching, is just bad public health policy. Let’s place our focus on saving lives and enforcing the laws on the books and taking action against anyone supplying these products to underage children instead of applying a regressive tax on the consumers who need this product to remain smoke free.

You can be assured that we are prepped and ready for this session and expect our 45 day session to go quickly. We ask everyone to pay close attention to the site, our FB page, calls to actions, etc because once it starts, things are going to happen quickly and with little notice.

If you are a Utah vaping business member, care about someone who vapes or know someone who smokes that needs our help, please consider joining the organization or donating so we can continue our fight to help change lives. Visit our membership page to join or our about us page to donate today!

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2016 Election Results

electionresults

The UTSFA would like to announce that the elections for the Board of Directors has concluded. We would like to thank everyone that threw their hands up and offered to put their talents to work for the wider organization and our community:

  • Paul Evans
  • Grant Hiller
  • Dick Ty
  • Brian Fisher
  • Matt Wilkins
  • Tamara Evans
  • Braxton Katis
  • Brad Parsons

Individuals like this are the reason that Utah has such a strong vaping community and we wish we could have a seat for everyone. We do hold elections each year so there will be more opportunities to get involved and encourage everyone to keep working hard to make this the best community in the country.

 

With that said, we would like to first thank our departing leaders for their contributions to the organization and more importantly, to the industry. Without their input, hard work and leadership, the UTSFA would not be what it is today. When everyone started with the organization, we were being formed from the proverbial ashes and their passion & talent helped to form this organization into what it is today and to surround it with a supportive vaping family:

  • Paul Evans – Retail Director
  • Brian Fisher – Consumer Compliance Director
  • Deanna Fisher – Secretary
  • Jacinda Ross – Treasurer

There are not enough good words about each of these people and I know that while they will no longer be serving as an active leader in the organization, I’m certain they will remain a leader in our community and will continue to do their part to help everyone in their own way.

 

Next, we are proud to introduce you to the newly elected leaders into the organization. Each of the nominees were voted on by our current industry members and sponsors of the organization and I can tell you it was a tight race. They will be inducted into their new positions at our next Board of Directors meeting and we would like to welcome each of them to our team.

  • Grant Hiller – Retail Director
  • Matt Wilkins – Consumer Compliance Director
  • Tamara Evans – Secretary/Treasurer

The current leaders will continue in their position through the end of January while they transition any duties or important information over to the incoming leaders. Please take a moment to welcome our new leaders and thank our exiting leaders for their service over the last year. We look forward to 2016 and the years ahead with our new and existing leadership team.

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2016 Legislative Fundraiser

huhoThe Utah Smoke Free Association is committed to serving the e-cigarette and vaping community as part of our core principals.  The 2016 legislative session begins on January 25th and we have new battles bearing down on us which require our laser focus and financial commitment:

  • E-Cigarette Taxation – Rep. Paul Ray
  • Tobacco Age Limit Increase – Rep. Kraig Powell
  • E-Cigarette regulations (committed by Rep. Paul Ray but not yet filed)

We have things planned to help fend off this legislation which will require a financial commitment from our organization and the industry as a whole; but they are necessary to survive in the Utah industry. Because this legislation also affects the availability of products for the adult consumers in the state, we are asking everyone in the community consider their support to protect the longevity of the industry. All funds raised through this campaign will be reserved exclusively for bringing in the necessary experts to help protect the industry.

Please see our official Legislative Fundraiser page for full details on how to help protect vaping in Utah. If we lose this battle, the photo below is what will happen in 2016…

Utah handcheck

 

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UTSFA fights for the industry

hands


Utah is now just 4 weeks away from the start of the Utah legislative session. During this session, we have been advised that we will be fighting taxation of the industry yet again. This will be the 3rd attempt at taxation and there is a growing trend of industry taxation across our great country thus we anticipate a deep battle again. We also anticipate an additional regulatory bill aimed at deepening the regulations of the industry in the state.

Just over a year ago, we reformed our organization into a 501(c)4 non-profit, hired 2 lobbyists and therefore financially depend on our existing membership base, new members and a growing list of sponsors to fund our lobbying efforts. Taxation and over-regulation risks negatively impacting sales of all vapor & e-liquid products throughout the state; of which many companies have a market share of.

 

The UTSFA is a 100% volunteer organization and do not allow payments to any member of our leadership team. All funds collected, go directly to our state lobbying efforts and the miscellaneous costs to remain operational so we can support the statewide industry. We have membership options available for Distributors, Retailers, E-liquid Manufacturers, and hardware manufacturers. In addition, we also have sponsorship opportunities for non-industry supporters and non-Utah manufacturers with a vested interest in the Utah vapor market. Sponsorships start at $500 and can be organized as a single donation, as a quarterly payment or set up annually to align with your interests and accounting.

 

We are asking all Utah businesses in the vapor industry to give back to the nonprofits that are fighting for you and your customers. 2016 will be a defining year in the vapor industry and simply writing letters, sending tweets and appearing at hearings unfortunately cannot fund critical lobbying efforts. The UTSFA like many other vapor industry associations need your support to continue pushing back against new and punitive taxes and regulatory measures from “public health” organizations.  Please take the necessary steps to help us fight for your longevity in the industry and join as a member or sponsor.

 

To express interest in joining as a member or sponsoring the Utah Smoke Free Association, we ask that you please fill out this form and a member of our board will contact you soon.

Sponsor_Button

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E-Liquid & Nicotine Warning

For Immediate Release 

11 December 2015, 11:00am MST

Utah Smoke Free Association reminds parents of the dangers of nicotine containing e-liquid.  

 

This week, there was an unfortunate incident involving a 9-month old child and e-liquid used with vapor products. According to the media report <http://www.good4utah.com/news/local-news/as-e-cigs-become-widespread-so-do-their-hazards-baby-ingests-dads-nicotine-juice-in-north-ogden>, the father of the child left an open bottle of e-liquid containing nicotine at a location where the child could easily access it. The child then proceeded to orally consume an unreported amount of the liquid and became ill resulting in a trip to the emergency room. We are releived that the medical staff reports the child will make a full recovery and is not expected to incur any long term harm.

This is the first known incident in Utah such as this and we would like to remind everyone of the necessary safety protocols relating to e-liquid and vapor products. While it’s believed that the bottle used did employ child-resistant caps, the father did not have the cap on the bottle and the bottle was on the floor within the child’s access. It is important to remind every consumer of vapor products (e-cigarettes, vape pens, etc) that e-liquid which contains nicotine is potentially deadly if orally consumed; moreso for small children. E-liquid, like all other chemicals, must always be kept with the cap tightly secured and must always be kept out of the reach of children.

Children are naturally curious and will explore their surroundings. We have seen many instance over the years with children consuming laundry pods, medications, cosmetics, etc leading them to trips to the hospital to treat the exposures. We ask that every consumer of vapor products ensure the products stay well out of reach of children whether you have children in your home or where you may be in the home where small children are present.  There are several signs of nicotine poisoning including drooling, agitation, vomiting, rapid heart rate, and seizures. While the child did not exhibit any of these symptoms, it’s important to remember the safety. E-liquid and vapor products of all types should be treated no differently than you would treat standard household chemicals such as cleaners and bleach. All chemicals, medications and vapor products must be kept out of reach of children and we ask that anyone with small children in your homes to please follow this warning.  

We remind every retailer of vapor products to educate your customers on the dangers of the products where children are present in their homes. If an overdose or accidental exposure occurs, please seek immediate medical help or contact a poison control center by calling 1-(800) 222-1222.

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UTSFA Leadership Nominations

voteThe Utah Smoke Free Association is a consumer driven non-profit 501(c)4 trade organization comprised of a consumer governed Board of Directors. All positions are volunteer and serve a term of 12-24 months unless the position is resigned. All Board of Directors and Officer positions will be nominated by the public and voted on by the UTSFA General Members along with the existing Board of Directors. Per our official By-Laws, the Board of Directors must be comprised of 5 individuals; 3 consumers and 2 from the industry (owners or employees). Consumers on the board may not be affiliated in any way with the industry. Officers are not required as part of our By-Laws and do not have voting authority but add to the leadership and skills and help spread the work out amongst a larger group.

We are currently accepting nominations for 3 positions:

  • Consumer Director (no industry affiliation)
  • Industry Director (must be industry owner/employee)
  • Secretary/Treasurer (Officer – prefer no industry affiliation but will consider all)

Nominees must be passionate about the vaping industry and who have a passion for advocating to keep our industry legal and active in the Utah community. The leadership team meets regularly throughout the year to address legislative issues, work to improve the industry image through media and public relations, and work with the industry on compliance.

The time commitment is generally less than 8 hours per month; with legislative months being the most active and requiring additional time commitment. You must have great skills in building and maintaining relationships but no prior experience with the role is required; just a passion to serve the community which has helped so many people over the last 10 years. The Secretary/Treasurer position is a combined position and therefore is a bit more involved with our finances and generally keeping everyone organized so we do prefer some experience in the field but anyone will be considered.

Self-nomination is acceptable and encouraged!

All nominations close at midnight on December 23rd. The Board of Directors will review all nominations and elections will begin on or about January 2nd.  You can nominate using the form below however if the form does not appear, please use the direct link to the form here:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1x3BUjDaankgTXn13iIGTNa6WWRRSD5zfNttSnZNUhsI/viewform?usp=send_form

 

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E-Liquid Manufacturing & Sales

badlab

Over the last year, it’s become apparent that lots of vapers are trying to break into the industry. Unfortunately this has created a growing trend with illegal e-liquid manufacturing operations popping up. While it’s exciting to see so many people wanting to get involved in the industry, it’s critical that everyone understands that Utah very strict regulations and legalities on the operation of a manufacturing facility and the sales of e-liquid. For those that go through the red tape to get their business legally licensed, illegal operations are a slap in their face and pose a danger to the public. These operations also make what we do at UTSFA very difficult and ultimately damage the reputation of the statewide industry and cause our lawmakers to come up with more regulations for the legitimate businesses to endure.

In every county in the metro area, your manufacturing business must be licensed and inspected by the county and have all proper business licenses to operate legally. Details of the licensing requirements can be found on the “Utah Laws” page and we’re happy to help you navigate the process and explain what it all means. Utah is also very fortunate to be home to numerous contract manufacturing facilities who will be happy to work with you and manufacture your product under your logo and your recipes in a properly equipped, licensed and insured facility. We can help you find a suitable one if you would like to go this route.

When we discover a new e-liquid manufacturer on the scene, we attempt to reach out to discuss the business and make sure it’s legal. However, if it’s not and the owner refuses to take immediate steps to legalize their business, we will do what is necessary to protect the legal business owners, the image of the entire statewide industry and ultimately the safety of the consumers. This includes passing information on the illegal operation to the respective health department and any other necessary authorities. We would prefer to never have to do this but illegal businesses hurt everyone and this cannot be tolerated.

A few key points on the legalities of the Utah industry:

  • It is illegal for a Utah e-liquid manufacturer or retailer to sell to a Utah resident online (including social media) or “meet up” to make the sale.
  • It is illegal for someone to manufacture e-liquid in a home-based facility and sell to the public.
  • It is illegal for someone to manufacture e-liquid in Utah in a facility which has not been licensed by the county to manufacture e-liquid
  • Sales of vapor products and e-liquid to the Utah public can only be done through a physical Retail operation which has obtained the required business license and e-cigarette retail licensing.

We ask anyone who is currently operating in an unlicensed/home-based facility or who may be considering getting into the industry to review the breakdown of laws on the “Utah Laws” page under the Legislation banner above. Utah doesn’t allow a parking lot taco cart to sell a single taco without all the required licensing and permits and our industry is no different. Continuing to operate in this manner will only result in tougher restrictions that will create serious harm on the entire statewide industry.

We also ask that all social media group admins keep an eye on this and prohibit anyone posting the sale of e-liquid as a business type posting if they cannot prove they are properly licensed to manufacture.  Allowing this to occur or supporting it by allowing purchase of the product is knowingly supporting illegal behavior.

We understand that everyone wants to get into the industry but it’s important that you do it correctly from the start.  If anyone has questions on this, we encourage you to reach out to us via the contact form on our website so a member of our team can work with you.

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Membership Drive

taxman

My fellow Utah vapers. Everyone is certainly aware of the struggles with regulation we have been through over the last 5 years in Utah. Frankly put, we’ve been put through hell and back but we’ve survived. The 2016 legislative session is right around the corner and we’ll once again be facing another big fight – taxation. Taxation of our industry is gaining steam around the country and it’s critically important that we are aligned and ready to battle. We as an industry will not accept ANY taxation beyond the current sales tax we are paying. Sin taxes were created for the purpose of behavior control for habits that the nanny’s felt were bad for our health (cigarettes and alcohol specifically here). What has become apparent in the recent 18 months, taxing our industry has nothing to do about health or “protecting the children”. Many of our elected leaders have gone on record that they want the money to fill gaps in the state budgets; both in Utah and in many other states.

What they and the supporters of taxation do not realize is that by taxing these products, it will force EVERY small business owner to close due to the inability to compete in the market. After all, why would a consumer pay $50 for a bottle of liquid when they can get the exact same product for half that cost online. I wouldn’t pay it nor would anyone else. This proposed taxation, risks forcing over 600 of our Utah brothers and sisters out of work. When this happens, the industry loses AND the state loses. They lose all expected tax money they hoped to gain. They lose property and employment tax. They lose sales tax. And worse, they commit public health malpractice by keeping smokers smoking and possibly forcing vapers back to smoking due to the unavailability of products.

We need EVERY vaping business owner to get involved now. We plan to fight this hard and fast but we cannot do that without membership. We have plans to get the best people in the country involved in this fight but the fight is not free. Ask yourself, what will you as a business owner do if taxation forces you out of business in the next 6-8 months. There is only one way to fight this and that is by joining forces and fighting together. If we lose this battle and you’ve done nothing to support it, there will be only one person to blame.

We have several membership options available which are outlined on our membership page here http://utsmokefree.org/directory/professional/. Join the 24 existing members of the Utah Smoke Free Association who have already committed to the fight financially to save the industry.  Every unsigned vapor business should join today so we can continue to fight for the rights of the industry and so you can demonstrate your commitment to remain in business in 2016 and continue the good work you do in helping Utah’s smokers make a positive change in their lives.

Either contact a member of the Board of Directors today or click the Join button below to register your intent to join.

join

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November 14th Deseret News Rebuttal

This post is in response to the Deseret News editorial posted today at the following link. Because they limit responses to 200 words, we posted a very brief response with a link to this posting.  http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865641501/The-FDAs-delay-in-releasing-electronic-cigarette-regulations-is-putting-the-young-at-risk.html

Everyone, even the editorial board is entitled to their opinion. However, for a journalistic source, one would hope they would at least get their facts straight and tell the truth; or has the Deseret News turned into nothing more than an outlet to spew rhetoric over facts?

While it’s true the public comment period has ended, it is not true the FDA is sitting back waiting on the results of studies (although they should). At the present time, the proposed regulations (of which nobody has seen after the recent edits) are sitting with the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The law requires the OMB/OIRA to go through a brief public comment period of their own which allows the citizens of the US to meet and discuss impact, whether positive or negative. This process is underway and is running through around the end of the year.

You claim that millions of Americans are ingesting harmful chemicals with long-term consequence yet provide no data to back it up. Maybe because there is data of which you can refer to. All agencies within the US are too blinded by the tax money they get from combustible tobacco that you would rather demonize an industry that has helped nearly 15 million smokers break free. Our allies in the UK have done what nobody in the US has been willing to do; they commissioned studies and reviewed all existing ones and determined e-cigarettes are at least 95% less harmful than inhaling tobacco smoke (https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/457102/Ecigarettes_an_evidence_update_A_report_commissioned_by_Public_Health_England_FINAL.pdf).

You ask that the FDA releases the regulations but you must understand something about this $3.5 Billion dollar industry. With the industry, comes jobs. By our estimation, around 75,000 US jobs to be precise. There are over 600 of your Utah friends and family members employed in this industry. Our industry has been pivotal in the historic low smoking rates recently reported by the CDC. Something that no government agency could do but private industry did without any taxpayer assistance. These regulations, pose a very real risk to forcing over 75,000 Americans out of work and around 12,000 business owners into bankruptcy.

Our industry has never condoned underage usage and are among the most vocal against it. We self-police social media and regularly report illegal activities to the necessary authorities. We are regularly visited by the police performing underage stings and have a high success rate in stopping the sale; unlike many other points of retail which the kids know will sell them. We asked the 2015 legislature to implement a law requiring the use of electronic age verification at every retail point of sale statewide that sells age restricted products (alcohol, tobacco and e-cigarette products). This was rejected before it even made it to committee. Ask yourselves, why does THIS industry want it but the lawmakers and lobbyists don’t? Who do you think wants the kids smoking and using age restricted products?

You claim that the use of flavors is used to lure kids into using our products. Several population level studies consisting of 10’s of thousands of adult consumers shows that the flavors are what allowed the products to be successful in our journey to quit. One such study can be found here: http://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/10/12/7272. Many industries use flavors not to attract kids, but because adults enjoy flavors. Continuing to argue this is our target audience is slanderous at best. If anyone doesn’t believe me, all you have to do is walk into a liquor store and look at cupcake vodka or look at the pharmaceutical industry in their manufacturing of Fruit Chill nicotine gum.

You state that some of the vapor tested contains heavy metals and organic compounds. While this is true, what you do not state is that the metals detected are below USP standards for metals in inhalation medications. You also do not inform the readers that the NRT products which the Utah taxpayers fund to hand out at no cost to smokers also contains heavy metals and at levels higher than e-cigarettes. This isn’t to say that improvement isn’t needed but you must be honest to the readers.

While usage by underage youth is unacceptable, the data actually disproves the gateway theory since underage smoking is at historic low rates and seems to indicate e-cigarettes are diverting our teens away from combustible tobacco. Whether the products are advertised or not, illegal or not, our teens will find a way to get them. We see this with the SHARP data showing the use of marijuana which is federally illegal and only available in the black market. We see it with alcohol which is only available to those over 21 (which by the way, neither product is regulated by the FDA).

What public health and our media owe to the people is the truth. The truth that your addiction to the tax money and creating moral panic is more important to you than the health of the people. The truth that for 20 years, the smoking rates plateaued and nothing was making a dent. The truth that THIS consumer run industry did in 10 years what public health could not, by being the reason nearly 9 million Americans are no longer smoking. The truth that if the FDA regulations are enacted as they are written, this industry will close almost overnight forcing over 9 million Americans back to combustible tobacco.

Public health and our media suggest that only FDA approved cessation products should be used to quit smoking. What they are telling the 42 million smokers is that if they can’t quit, they should die trying rather than to use a product which is scientifically proven to be at least 95% less harmful. Shame on public health. Shame on the Deseret News.  Don’t be a sheeple and simply believe everything that you read in the media.  Do your own research. We provided links above and are happy to provide you whatever you need to come to your own informed conclusion.

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