Statement on HB370

UTAH VAPE BUSINESSES – UTAH SMOKE FREE ASSOCIATION NEEDS YOUR HELP

 

We are writing to provide an update in regard to House Bill 370 .

On Thursday, the UTSFA opposed House Bill 370 because it’s passage would be extremely detrimental to vapor businesses and consumers in Utah.  The bill would create an onerous licensure requirement which would require retail vapor shops to attain a license from their local department of public health for all vape shops that opened after May 8, 2012.  Further, the bill requires retailers to provide independent verification that their retail locations are zoned properly which may cause dozens of small businesses to close, causing the layoff of hundreds of employees. All because of incompetence at state-run offices.

 

As importantly, the bill also adds vapor products to the definition of “smoking” under the Utah Clean Indoor Air Act. This policy decision would be a serious step backwards in the continuing fight against combustible tobacco use and would treat two significantly different products the same.

 

Members of UTSFA testified against HB370 and our lobbying team worked members of the committee.  Unfortunately, there was conflicting testimony on whether or not the vapor industry opposes House Bill 370.  Specifically, certain vapor leaders (not affiliated with UTSFA) testified that “vaping should be defined as smoking in Utah.”  Shortly after this testimony, House Bill 370 passed out of the House Health and Human Services Committee. This left members of the committee and the wider legislature confused forcing the cancellation of our Call to Action for another bill which place it at risk as well.

 

So, today UTSFA must turn its attention to and redouble our efforts in defeating the bill on the House floor by reinforcing the industry’s position on this bill, attempting to repair the damage done to the industry and try to once again elevate the reputation of the industry amongst our elected leaders at the capitol.  The Utah Smoke-Free Association remains opposed to House Bill 370 and we will continue to work tirelessly to defeat the bill.

 

Bottom line, the fight just got harder and we need your support to continue to fight anti-vaping bills. The Utah Smoke-Free Association provides a number of services to its members including lobbying services, legislative updates, and calls to action to ensure your voice is heard.  UTSFA is an independent vapor association and we have built a strong pro-vapor message in one of the most complex statehouses in the country for the past 6 years.

 

Last year, we made an outstanding decision to affiliate our association and each of our members with the Vapor Technology Association.  VTA has been an enormous resource to us, providing federal lobbying services, communications assistance, and coordinating our lobbying efforts with multiple state associations so that our industry has a consistent message.  VTA also has worked with us on state strategy, reviewing bills, drafting and/or reviewing testimony, and consulting with us on organizational issues.  At the same time, VTA has integrated Utah businesses in the federal fight for Cole-Bishop and changing the predicate date.

 

We are working hard to defend the vapor industry in Utah, but we need your help as our fight for the vapor industry in Utah just got tougher. To join the Utah Smoke-Free Association please visit: http://utsmokefree.org/directory/professional/. You may fill out the link at the bottom of the page.

 

 

Please support the vapor industry and join or donate to the UTSFA today!

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2017 HB370 Call to Action

 

This is an electronic CALL TO ACTION for House Bill 370 introduced by Representative Bradley Last.


HB370 – Amendments to Tobacco Regulations

 

This last Thursday, this bill was approved by the committee and passed out to the house floor for debate and approval. It is now time to expand this action alert to target each of your respective members of the house. Please see details below.

What this bill does:

  • As of January 1 2018, requires all retailers with more than 35% in gross sales of vapor products to obtain their license through the Departments of Health and in doing so, obtain independent verification that you are zoned correctly at the business’ cost. This affects all specialty AND mixed retail locations statewide.
  • Only grandfathers in locations in existence before May 8 2012 of which accounts for less than 5 vapor retailers statewide
  • No option to appeal license denial decisions – the Departments of Health are judge, jury and executioner
  • Incorrectly defines vaping as smoking

What to do: We are asking everyone to use the Vapor Technology Association (VTA) Call to Action portal to email your respective representatives before noon on Wednesday asking them to OPPOSE this bill.

VTA Committee Engagement form (CTA): http://cqrcengage.com/vaportechnology/app/write-a-letter?6&engagementId=299773

We also ask that everyone please call their representatives asking for their opposition. See talking points below for details on what to say when you call. Keep in mind that you might only get a VM box so you need to be prepared to keep your message short and on point.

Important: We can’t say this loud enough – Be courteous and respectful at all times in your emails and phone calls. This is always a very sensitive topic at the capitol and our community’s passion is always high and rightfully so. However there must be a balance between passion and facts without insulting the legislators. Believe it or not, most of the legislators are very tired of dealing with this topic every year so they will have little patience for outbursts, negativity, and insults; so always remain professional and respectful.


Talking Points: (just pick a few)

  • Vaping is NOT smoking. The Truth Initiative (America’s largest non-profit public health organization dedicated to making tobacco use a thing of the past) openly state that policy makers should encourage adult smokers who cannot or will not quit tobacco to move to less harmful products.
  • Requiring all vapor businesses statewide to obtain independent zoning measurements due to the mistake by the municipalities risks closing over 2 dozen small business that did everything right before they opened their doors.
  • Closure of these businesses will remove millions in sales tax revenue from the states coffers.
  • Despite the 2012 grandfather date, over 80% of the entire statewide vapor industry was introduced after the existing 2012 grandfather date.
  • Penalizing small business owners for the ineptness of city departments is an abuse of Utah lawmaking.
  • Where lawmakers believe that retail operations are operating illegally, state law already authorizes the auditing of sales receipts to validate compliance with the laws. Forcing added regulations and licensing to close the gap on the cities inability to enforce the laws is not ethical.

We also strongly suggest all business owners meet with their state representatives directly and explain the impact this will have on your business, on your employees and your ability to remain in business. Make an appointment with your legislators and bring copies of your sales data, taxes paid and all other information that will help drive the point home. You may only get 10-15 minutes so go into it prepared to make a fast and factual impact.

For the consumers, please also call your respective house member and explain the impact this will have on you as a vaper if these products disappear due to the negligence of the city licensing offices. You can use the talking points above as a base. If you do not know who your legislator is, find them here: https://le.utah.gov/GIS/findDistrict.jsp

You can also tweet to everyone using the message: Please OPPOSE HB370 that makes deadly cigarettes more available #NoToHB370 #VaporIsNotSmoke #ABillionLives

  • Utah House Democrats: @utahhousedems
  • Utah House Republicans: @utahhousegop
  • Utah House of Representatives: @utahreps
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Feb 20 Legislative Update

Just a quick update for everyone on the 2017 session due to a few new bills that have been published since our last update.

Since our update last Friday, we have had 2 new bills introduced which directly or indirectly affect the vapor industry. We are not yet prepared to issue calls to actions but ask that you please remain ready to act on short notice. We are down to less than 3 weeks until the end of the session so things will happen very quickly and with little notice.

HB333 – Utah Indoor Clean Air Act Amendments. Since 2012, the speciality retailers in Utah have been allowed to vape indoors for sampling and demonstration purposes only. The bill that passed back then set a 5-year sunset period which ends July 1 of this year. This bill simply removes this July 1 expiration and makes no other changes to the law. This has been assigned to the House Health & Human Services committee with no hearing date set.

HB325 – Tobacco Sales Enforcement Amendments. This bill is “generally” supported by the UTSFA and our membership as it strengthens the penalties at the retail point of sale for any business that sells tobacco and vapor products when they are caught selling to minors. The vast majority of our retail members check ID’s very seriously and many have a long track record of perfect compliance. While this is a stronger penalty, the vast majority of our members fully support this approach. This has been assigned to the House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee but has not been added to an agenda yet.

New! HB370 – Amendments to Tobacco Regulations. This bill requires new burdensome licensing requirements, modifies zoning, and appears to add vaping into the definition of smoking. We are carefully reviewing the full intent and impact of this bill with our lobbyists and industry partners and also working to gain an audience with the sponsor to better understand his intent with the bill. This one has not yet been assigned to a committee.

New! HB406 – Tobacco Age Restriction Amendments. This is the 4th attempt to elevate the use & possession age for tobacco and vapor products. If enacted into law, this would prohibit legal adults age 18, 19, or 20 from purchasing or possessing tobacco products, vapor products or related paraphernalia. It would ban the sale of such items to those under 21 and prohibit those under 21 from being present at specialty establishments where such items are sold or used—unless accompanied by a parent—unless you’re “an active duty member of the United States Armed Forces.”

Enforcement of this follows a phased approach:

  • Beginning on July 1, 2018, the minimum age for obtaining, possessing, or using tobacco products is 20 years of age; and
  • Beginning on January 1, 2019, the minimum age for obtaining, possessing, or
    using tobacco products is 21 years of age.

The UTSFA holds the position that instead of criminalizing adult behavior, we should be focused on increased education and awareness about the dangers of these habits. We believe that we should help teens not start in the first place by understanding what causes the choice to smoke and help prevent it through education instead of law.

 

We maintain our vigilance in monitoring for the rumored tax bill and any other regulatory bill that will affect the industry. As the situations warrant, community Calls to Action will be issued via the UTSFA, CASAA, VTA and any other resource necessary to protect YOUR rights.

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Utah Legislature Week 3 Update

Week 3 is now behind us and we have just over 27 calendar days (including weekends where nothing happens) in this session. There have been a total of 6 bills filed either directly or indirectly affecting the Utah vapor industry. The deadline for filing new bills has now passed and we do not anticipate any additional bills however we are always watching for amendments to unrelated bills that may impact the industry.

Bill Number Title Sponsor
Not Numbered Amendments to Tobacco Regulations Last, B.
Not numbered Electronic Cigarette Regulation Weiler, T.
Not numbered Electronic Cigarette Tax Amendments Ray, P.
Not numbered Tobacco Age Restriction Amendments Eliason, S
HB0325 Tobacco Sales Enforcement Amendments  Spendlove, R.
 HB0333  Utah Indoor Clean Air Act Amendments  Roberts, M.

At this time, both HB325 and HB333 are fully supported by the Utah Smoke Free Association but we will keep a close eye on them as they progress to make sure they don’t turn south. Neither bill has been assigned to a committee yet and we will make sure to let you know when they do so appropriate actions can be taken. We do anticipate attempts to amend one or both so will be watching for this as well.

The remaining 4 bills have yet to be numbered which is not uncommon due to the around 1200 bills being proposed in this record breaking legislative session. We anticipate the drafting attorneys to have them released next week and would expect at least a few committee hearings late in the week.

Thanks to our recent partnership with the Vapor Technology Association, all bills presented will be reviewed by their legislative experts along with other industry experts to try and avoid any unintended consequences of bills that will negatively affect the industry and our consumers.

Please be watchful for last minute alerts coming out as we’re running out of time on our legislative session and things will start moving very fast.

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2017 Utah Legislative Session

The 2017 Legislative session starts on Monday January 23rd. We’re expecting another very busy and 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)
  • Attempt to raise use age of vapor and tobacco products to 21
  • Attempt to fully ban all vaping (including sampling and demonstration) from specialty retailers
  • Rumor has it he will attempt other restrictive regulations in addition to the above and all prior years

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 over 20 lives lost every week in Utah due to combustible tobacco.

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 over 35,000 adult 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 contact us directly to donate today!

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Group shirt order

grouporderWe have put together a group order on embroidered polo shirts for anyone that wishes to have something nicer than a screen printed t-shirt. We have designs for both men and women in a single color for each. The group order closes on December 2nd and if the minimum order has been met, will be shipped directly to Aaron with the UTSFA who will distribute in time for Christmas. Payments must be made directly with the supplier of which the UTSFA are not involved with and the UTSFA makes zero profit from the sale of the shirts. If the minimum order does not get met, we will look into ordering directly and selling individually at a later date.
 

Ladies Polos (min of 10): https://www.customink.com/g/dgr0-00at-ufn0
Men’s Polos (min of 20): https://www.customink.com/g/dgr0-00at-ufzh
 

If you have any question or issues with ordering, please contact us using our contact form.

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2016 Elections

electionWe are now almost just days away from the 2016 election. This has been one of the most talked about election years in modern history so we’ll spare you all the details because most of you have your opinions clearly set. We also will never tell anyone how they should vote as we believe this is in poor taste and is an individual decision each of you must make. Each of you should vote your conscious for the individuals you feel BEST represent your beliefs and views. The only thing we do strongly suggest is to avoid voting straight party as in our opinion, this is lazy and keeps the same people in power that have placed our state or country in the position it is today.

 

Registering to vote:

In Utah, the deadline to register has already passed so your only option is online. You must submit the online form no later than November 1st to be eligible to vote in the election. https://secure.utah.gov/voterreg/index.html

 

Contacting the candidates:
We encourage everyone to get out and contact everyone running for public office in your district or state. Most should have Facebook accounts that they or their staff monitor daily and is an easy way to get a message to them. You should also look for their campaign pages online and contact them via email that way so there is a good paper trail. We have already received responses to most messages sent and at least one has generated a face-to-face meeting. Some suggestions on things to discuss (industry related of course):
  • What are their views about the vapor industry
  • Tell your personal quit story but keep it short (2-3 sentences max)
  • Have access to the latest science that you can quote and provide
  • Any other topic that is important to YOU…remember, YOU are the one voting and they will be working to represent your views.

Regardless of how you feel about the presidential race, it is CRITICAL everyone gets out and votes this election. Almost all positions state-wide are up for reelection so this is the best time to let your voice be heard and unlike the presidential race, your vote matters more now than ever.

voicevote

 

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Hands For A Billion Lives Demonstration

On Saturday October 22nd at 2:22pm at the Utah State Capitol and in hundreds of locations world-wide at the exact same time in their time zone, communities joined hands in silent demonstration. Today, we joined hands as a visual demonstration of support for the 1 billion smokers who will die needlessly due to smoking-related disease if our government insists on overregulation and taxation thereby destroying the only hope of stopping over 480,000 deaths in the US.

A new award winning and Oscar nominated documentary “A Billion Lives” tells the history about collusion and corruption between our government, health agencies and big industry set to kill off the vaping industry and seal the fate of 1 billion smokers worldwide. This movie is premiering on November 3rd in Salt Lake City and the community is standing up for the truth that scientists around the world are saying can save lives.

We ask for everyone’s support of the public’s right to accurate and evidence based information on vapor products thereby allowing them to choose a safer alternative for themselves and their loved ones. Please see the short 3 minute video below of our demonstration on the capitol grounds.
Stories from our community:

 

From LM Fisher: Today, my husband Kevin Fisher & I participated in Hands for a Billion Lives here in Utah at the state capitol. We are glad that we went!

I wanted to remember and honor our dear friend Fiamma Palermo, who lost her battle to lung cancer in May this year, 2016. Although going through many months of chemo & radiation, the cancer in her lungs, from 55 years of smoking cigarettes prevailed. Fiamma (aka Karen Lee, aka Sweets) was a positive force in the vaping industry and a big advocate for it. Proof that vaping works, proof that smoking cigarettes kill, even though she had stopped smoking. Proof that vaping can help, as it added much valued time to her life, that was ultimately cut short from her years of smoking.

She cared for each and every one of us who vape, and specially cared to get cigarette smokers transitioned into vaping. Fiamma touched many many of our lives. May you rest in peace dear friend! We are always grateful the our paths crossed!

 

From Michael Gene:

Day 77, admission, and 3 part post.

I wish I could say that day 77 has left me 100% smoke free but it hasn’t. In the last 3 weeks I’ve smoked a total of 5 cigarettes, last one yesterday at work. 56 days straight and then I slipped a bit, but I didn’t fall flat on my face. And, that’s OK, I’ve never professed to be perfect, only human, and extremely motivated when I take on an endeavor of personal change. The only other one greater was changing me in order to give my kids the best life possible as a single father. So, in a way they are one in the same endeavor.

Say what you will about vaping, there’s plenty of jokes about it, but it’s not a fad for me. It’s been the tool that has kept my from lighting up 2305 times since I committed 77 days ago. It could have been 2310 times, but those 5 snuck in there. That’s a 0.21645% failure rate on my part. Or, better yet, a 99.78355% success rate in 77 days for a man that smoked for 31 years. Vaping as the best NRT for me, yeah it is working. You either support me or you don’t, if you don’t, well you don’t put the food on the table or the roof over my kids heads, I do.

Now, I recognize that I left two huge holes in my post so let me sew those up. It’s not a joke to me, it’s not funny, I’m adding potential years back on my life, so go be funny somewhere else if you’re gonna make a stupid joke in reply. And two, for anyone that is going to reply and say something about being addicted to nicotine, well, here’s food for thought. The nicotine I do intake vaping is much, much less harmful for me physically than the food we eat off of store shelves. And, tenfold less harmful than that fast food meal. So, to all the naysayers, educate yourself, and look at your personal habits before you comment, ever again about my vape posts.

To all the NRT vapers out there, this is to you.

Butson out….

 

From Kevin Fisher:

My wife LM Fisher and I spent part of our afternoon in a silent protest at our states capital in Salt Lake City UT to have access to a safer alternative to tobacco products!

The picture below is my Mom and Dad James and Nora Fisher. Both of my parents passed away from smoking related illnesses. It is no secret that I am a vaper and I am very proud to be so. My mom passed away in 2006 and my dad followed in 2008. Both had quick smoking 4 or 5 years before their passing. I honest believe that if they had the choice/freedom to choose a healthier alternative I might of had more time on this earth with them. My dad is retired military (USN) passed away from lung cancer, this was probably the most difficult thing to ever witness in my life…..I am smoke free thanks to vaping, I am almost nicotine free thanks to vaping.

I know if they were still with us today they would be very proud of the demon I have conquered.

fisher

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2nd showing of A Billion Lives

Thanks to the hard work by UTSFA member Riverwalk Vapors, Salt Lake City will have a 2nd showing for A Billion Lives.

The United Nations’ World Health Organization projects that a billion people will die this century from smoking. This award winning and Oscar contending documentary highlights the lies and corruption by top governments and health agencies around the world intent on allowing smokers to die all in the name of money.

Big brother has lied again…They’re trying to force an entire industry out of business that is helping people to stop smoking.    ~ Herman Cain

The truth about the corruption will be aired at 10pm on Thursday November 10th at Brewvies Cinema Pub in Salt Lake City. Smoking related disease kills Utah smokers at a rate of nearly 5 times that of the opioid epidemic and our state is not doing enough to fix the problem.

“The makers of this film did their due diligence, the narrative of this movie is immaculate.”     ~Kevin Crowley

Tickets are $13 each (with an add’l $1 processing fee) and must be purchased online via: https://www.tugg.com/events/a-billion-lives-bukd. The ticket fees cover the cost of the theater rental, fees for distribution (Tugg), production company costs and a percentage of the ticket sales are returned to the Utah Smoke Free Association to support statewide advocacy.

We encourage everyone in the community to reach out directly to their elected representatives to alert them to this premier and suggest they make the time to view it. The UTSFA is happy to provide tickets to them at no cost to them or the taxpayers but they will need to request it directly from us.

We have created a Facebook event to help show support and provide a location for people to discuss the event https://www.facebook.com/events/1365334500152088/

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Hands for A Billion Lives

handsThe Utah vaping family is invited to participate in a one of a kind GLOBAL call to action. We are asking for EVERY vaper in Utah to join together at the Utah State Capitol (South steps) on Saturday October 22nd at exactly 2:22 pm (need to be early so you can be in place by this time). At this exact time, vapers from around the world will be joining hands in solidarity to support the estimated 1 billion lives that will be lost this century due to smoking related disease. This event is not sponsored by any single industry organization to demonstrate the power we have as a community to come together to help save lives.

 

This movement is about exposing the threat to a billion lives from over-regulation of the vapor products, which will shut down 99% of the vapor industry and deny access to these products to Americans who would otherwise smoke. Today, We are building a wall to protect those billion lives who will die needlessly due to smoking-related disease if our government refuses to allow these products to remain on the market.

 

This will be a silent protest about exposing the threat to a billion lives from over-regulation of the vapor products, which will shut down 99% of the vapor industry and deny access to these products to Americans who would otherwise smoke.
On this day, we are building a wall to protect those billion lives who will die needlessly due to smoking-related disease if our government refuses to allow these products to remain on the market.

 

Some rules for the event that we ask everyone to please follow:

  1. This is a peaceful SILENT movement. No outburst, chanting, rallying. We can’t deliver the message that we are forming a wall to protect a billion lives and look positive and caring if we are ranting and raving about how the FDA sucks.
  2. Every person is responsible for their neighbor. Each of you are in charge of your neighbor and their actions. If your neighbor starts to act out, take action to help stop their behavior. Guilt works amazingly. “Hey, it is your responsibility to represent the community and you are making us look as irresponsible as they think we are. Stop. Show them we don’t want people to die, not that you want to kill someone.”
  3. Everyone is to direct media inquires to Shilo Platts, co-President of SFATA Utah. We want to deliver the exact same message across the country so it’s important that he be the ONLY media contact for this event.
  4. For this brief period it is imperative that we are not blowing clouds, doing vape tricks, etc. Remember why we all got into vaping and what the industry stands for (hint: it’s NOT clouds brah).

 

If you are a store owner, please print this flyer and place it on the tasting bar, next to your register and on your doors. Make sure your employees talk to all your customers about it. If you are a consumer, we encourage you to bring your significant others or family members with you that are old enough to understand what our industry is all about. Lastly, we are asking anyone who has lost a friend or family member as a consequence of tobacco-related illness to bring a picture of that individual with them to the protest.

 

To join the event, please register your interest on the Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1346568058710382/

 

For more information on the Hands for A Billion Lives global event, please visit http://www.handsforabillionlives.com/

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