UTSFA Leadership Changes

As you know, the UTSFA underwent elections for the board of directors back in early April. We are excited to announce the new directors that will represent the Utah vaping industry and help shape it into a stronger industry than ever.

Effective immediately, the following director changes are in effect:
Tad Jensen – Executive Director
Jen Littlefield – Director
Lewie Lambros – Director

Exiting as directors will be Mike Seely who has served since the inauguration of the UTSFA, Tamara Evans as director and treasurer and UTSFA founder & and Executive Director, Aaron Frazier. We would like to thank Mike, Tamara and Aaron for their service over the years to fight for industry preservation and wish them all the best in their future ventures. Aaron Frazier will assist the new directors in a successful transition for the remainder of the calendar year however will not be involved in any operations or decisions.

The new directors will organize an industry meeting in the coming weeks to introduce themselves to everyone and provide everyone with a update on the state of the industry in Utah. Please watch the UTSFA Facebook page and website for the announcements.

This will be my last formal post to the UTSFA membership in a leadership capacity so moving forward, please direct all questions or inquires to Tad, Jen or Lewie. I genuinely am honored to have served the industry for the last 6 years and urge each of you to remain committed to supporting the Utah industry and organization so they can keep our lobbyists actively fighting for your rights to remain in business because without a solid lobbying team, I fear the worst will be nearby.

I wish you all the best.

Thanks
Aaron

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UTSFA Announcement

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2017 Board of Director Nominations

For 2017, all board of director positions are open for nominations. All members of the Board of Directors must be active members of the Utah Smoke Free Association to be eligible to serve. Elections will be open from March 12-31 only with elections being held during the month of April.

The Directors must be able to think beyond their own business and be willing to promote the wider state industry in the same manner they do for their own business. They should also have a solid knowledge of state laws; both current and pending. Each director must be active on social media to help promote the organization, our membership and advocacy. Directors are expected to coordinate and communicate with other independent state vaping associations, the Vapor Technology Association whom the UTSFA is a member of along with any other applicable national organizations that assist in our state level activities.

Directors will work closely with the local and national industry to assist with any legislative or legal issues and work on expanding our membership with the unsigned businesses both locally and nationally. Directors also coordinate with lobbyists and other non-industry associations and corporations to further the cause of the association.

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2017 Utah Sine Die

The 2017 Utah legislative session has come to an end and I’d like to take this time to give everyone an update on how things wrapped up. We will update this post later today with more detailed information but wanted to get a quick summary out to everyone as they get their Friday started. This session saw over 1200 bills filed, a record for Utah, with 535 passed…another record. This means over 665 bills never passed with a majority of them never even making it off the drafting table or being heard.

As the session began, we had 6 bills which affected our industry and 2 of those were bills the UTSFA requested to help our shops maintain sampling and demonstration while at the same time, protect the industry against underage sales through electronic age verification. Unfortunately our bills never saw the light of day due to tremendous opposition from the retail merchants associations, all health groups and other organizations that did not have the best interest of the industry in mind.

Representative Ray’s tax bill was dead before it was even heard in committee. The bill to increase penalties was withdrawn to undergo further investigation into where the real problem with underage sales is originating from. The bill to raise the use age to 21 for tobacco products was defeated in committee but not before Representative Eliason presented the most comprehensive truth on the vapor industry I’ve ever heard from a Utah representative (HUGE kudo’s to him on that!).  Lastly, the bill which would have shuttered over a dozen small specialty business owners was negotiated into a good bill to protect dozens business owners along with the 100+ staff they employ. Disappointingly, that bill did not get heard in the final hours of the session and they ran out of time to get it across the line.

Overall, it means this session really didn’t happen as there were no additions or changes to any laws affecting the industry. This doesn’t mean we didn’t fight however. Our lobbying team are the true hero’s this year and fought hard to keep the industry alive and without any negative impact – this is demonstration of the power in a great lobbying team!

All in all, this was a very successful session and one that ended with little fanfare and nothing negative against the industry. Again, we’ll post a more comprehensive update later today but hopefully everyone can rest a little easier today.

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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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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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