February, 2015

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Who fights for your rights?

The Utah Smoke Free Association is the ONLY vapor industry organization in Utah fighting for the rights of the retailers, manufacturers and consumers. We have successfully fought bad legislation, 2 attempts at tax increases, bad press and bad regulation for 4 years. Every member of our board works in a volunteer basis for the rights of the entire industry statewide and beyond. Though this volunteer work, we have managed to scrape up enough funds through membership to pay for lobbyists but it’s not fair for a handful of shops and manufacturers to fund the fight for everyone and it’s not enough for the full year.

If you are reading this and are a business owner, you need to ask yourself how important is your business? Do you value your customers or do you simply want to travel around the country on vape meet junkets to hob nob with vaping celebs that don’t do shit to fight for YOUR business and make you profitable?

If you are a consumer and your favorite shop is not on the list on our site, you need to consider only supporting the businesses that have joined in and are involved in funding the lobbyists who work tirelessly behind the scenes. Why should you support shops’ extravagant trips to vape meets when they won’t get involved to support YOUR rights.

IF however you are a business owner that has a desire to be in this long term, check out our professional membership page for details on how to join the organization and demonstrate to YOUR customers that you are in this fight for the long haul.  This is a Vape Revolution – which side will you be on?

Revolution_raw

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Current Legislative Bills

Status of Utah Legislative Bills

Here’s all the bills that have any level of impact on or near our beloved industry for the 2015 legislative session.

Bill Status
HB130 – Age Limit for Tobacco and Related Products Rules Committee – on hold
HB131 – Tobacco Shop Amendments

Senate Judiciary, Law Enforcement, and Criminal Justice Standing Committee

The committee meeting will be held: Monday, March 2, 2015             

4:00 PM  State Capitol Building, Room 250

HB415 – Regulation of Electronic Cigarettes Rules Committee – pending committee assignment

At this time, HB130 is all but considered dead however with 2 weeks remaining, there is a possibility it can be revived.  We are opposed to HB130 but supportive of HB131 as it places tobacco retailers on the same set of rules as vapor retailers as it relates to minors being present in the retail shops.  The UTSFA Board and our lobbyists are monitoring things very closely and should things change, we’ll update everyone about it.

For HB415, this bill was just numbered and filed on Thursday February 25th and based on the current language, we are in opposition to it.  We have been working with our lobbying team on the language to ensure it does not negatively impact the statewide industry.  We have been successful in the removal of a proposed 86.5% tax which is a huge win; due in no small part to the calls and emails sent by the public.  The remaining language in the bill is specific to retail and manufacturing operations with no impact to the consumers within the industry.  We are however working very closely with the lobbying team and the bill sponsor to ensure no negative impact on the professional community is experienced.  If the language and a few bits added, we will be able to support this bill.  However should a Call to Action be necessary, one will be published but please understand that negotiations are very delicate at times and a massive push from the general public at the wrong time could be enough to create irreparable harm in the process.

We are now down to 2 weeks left in the 2015 session.  Due to the timing, we have 5-7 possible days of committee meetings before rules are suspended and any bill discussion is done directly on the house/senate floor.  We’ll release details of how to address this as soon as we know what needs to be done.

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CALL TO ACTION


cta

The Call to Action regarding taxation has expired.  We received confirmation from Representative Ray that he will not be including taxes on his bill thus no further action is required.  Please do NOT email your legislators any further on the topic of taxation.  The next Call to Action (if needed) will be released as soon as possible regarding the regulatory portion of the bill.

This will be one of at least 2 Calls to Action for the 2015 Legislative session.

A House Bill to be introduced this week by Representative Paul Ray which is supported by Governor Gary Herbert, threatens to nearly DOUBLE THE PRICE of every product sold by our B&M locations statewide and if enacted, will protect the tobacco companies by making cigarettes cheaper, will force over 50 retail and liquid manufacturers to close down and file bankruptcy and push over 10,000 consumers back to smoking deadly combustible cigarettes.

This bill will:

  • Introduce an 86.5% tax on every product sold by the vapor industry in Utah to raise between $10-35 million dollars which amounts to an estimated $1500-3000 per consumer.  This is generally more per year per consumer than we pay for property taxes on our individual homes.
  • The bill will also introduce regulatory language not yet known however we are only addressing the taxation at this time.  A separate CTA will be issued once the bill has been published and we have assessed the regulatory language.

The actions and statements made by the Governor and Representative Ray show they are addicted to the tax money and demonstrate a lack of compassion for the health of Utah residents.  We believe this will force the consumers back to smoking deadly tobacco cigarettes affecting the lives of every family member through direct exposure to second-hand smoke.  Furthermore, this bill supports Big Tobacco interests and threatens to close over 50 main street businesses placing over 500 people on the unemployment line.

While this bill has not been assigned to committee yet, we are asking everyone to email and call your representatives and ask them to oppose any punitive tax on products that have helped over 10,000 Utahans successfully move away from toxic cigarettes. If they truly care about the health of Utahans and youth access, they will explore world class technologies that control distribution of the product at the point of sale rather than a punitive tax that supports the tobacco industry over Utah main street businesses.

To contact your Senator and Representative, Libertas Utah has a tool to locate them. Go to http://libertasutah.org/sponsor/ (bottom of page) and click on “How do I contact my Senator and Representative” and enter your street address and zip code.

To contact Governor Gary Herbert to educate him and request him to retract his support for a bill that will close Utah businesses and force vapers back to smoking, use the contact form here: http://governor.utah.gov/goca/form_governor.html

You can also tweet to everyone using the hashtag #utvaportax

Suggested talking points:

Important: Be courteous and respectful at all times. You should assume they know very little about vapor products and also that they generally they want good information so they can do the right thing for Utah citizens. So, educate them on how these products have changed your life and ask them to support your position politely, for best results.

As a consumer of vapor products, you know better than most that these products are NOT tobacco, are NOTHING like combustible cigarettes, and that cost and full access to them are important to you. But, YOUR story is the one missing in this discussion as well organized anti-vapor groups have sent their high-dollar lobbyists into Utah to persuade your own legislative representatives to tax and regulate your products just like tobacco. If you care about cost and access of your e-cigarettes, make sure your voice is heard. You really CAN make a difference!

  • Tell them how the switch to vapor products has helped you personally and how it has affected your family.
  • Ask them to oppose any punitive tax on products that have helped over 10,000 Utahans successfully move away from toxic cigarettes.
  • Let them know this will remove any financial benefit there is to NOT smoke.
  • Tell them taxation of combustible tobacco products is to offset the health and social costs of smoking.  Vapor is not smoke and contains no tobacco and the identified health risks associated with smoking do not exist with vapor products.

 

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