March, 2015

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Myths & Truths

In light of all the lies, propaganda and misinformation circulating right now courtesy of the CDC and the California Health Mafia, I thought it would be fitting to include a poster that is going out to all our member shops.

UTSFA Truth Poster

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Congratulations ElectronicStix

The Utah Smoke Free Association would like to congratulate ElectronicStix in Ogden on their successful ID check during a recent underage sting.  ElectronicStix takes a very serious approach at checking IDs using the Bar & Club ID software and requires employees to scan every ID (regardless of the customers age) before selling any product to a customer.

Considering that failing a sting can result in fines, criminal penalties and the loss of a business license; ID checking must be a very serious step in the retail sales process.  ElectronicStix continues to do things right and we are proud of your on going accomplishments and for setting a high mark for the industry!


Click the image below to see a copy of their audit letter received alerting them to their success.


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Organizational Change

The Utah Smoke Free Association is happy to announce that Darrel Schildknecht has accepted the role of Manufacturing Director with the organization. Darrel previously held the role of President as we got up and running and this new role is a natural fit for him due to his extensive experience in the vapor industry with both retail and manufacturing. Please join us in welcoming him to the Board of Directors!darrel

Since he has vacated his role of President, we also will be taking open nominations for the next month to fill his vacancy. Along with this vacancy, we also need to fill the role of Social Media & Promotions Manager to help the organization and our members grow their business reputations online.

If you would like to apply or nominate someone for either of the two open positions, please apply at the following location. After the closing date, the general members of the association along with the Board of Directors will hold a formal voting session to fill the vacancies.

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Buy Local and quit!

Sometimes, it takes a scientist to tell us what we already know.  It’s sad that population level data is not trusted but certainly are happy that this confirmed the information we have been saying for years!

In this study, 71 adult smokers making their first purchase at local participating vape shops were asked by professional retail staff to complete a form.

Measurements: Their cigarette consumption was followed-up prospectively at 6 and 12 months. Details of products purchase (i.e., e-cig hardware, e-liquid nicotine strengths and flavours) were also noted.

Findings: Retention rate was elevated, with 69% of participants attending their final follow-up visit. At 12 month,

  • 40.8% of the subjects could be classified as quitters,
  • 25.4% as reducers and 33.8% as failures.

Switching from standard [2nd generation] refillables (initial choice) to more advanced [3rd generation] devices (MODs) was observed in this study (from 8.5% at baseline to 18.4% at 12 month) as well as a trend in decreasing their liquid nicotine strength, with more participants adopting low nicotine strength (from 49.3% at baseline to 57.1% at 12 month).

Conclusions: We have found that smokers purchasing e-cigarettes from vape shops with professional advice and support can achieve high success rates.



For details on the study, click the image above.

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What have we done?


Some have been questioning the benefit of the UTSFA is and why membership is so important.  Others believe that the fees we charge (of which $0 goes to anyone on the board) are too high. Allow me to outline what our group has done for the Utah industry.

  1. The Utah Smoke Free Association, formerly the Utah Vapers Association, was one of the first statewide organizations in the country and has been the only true “boots on the ground” organization in Utah for the last 4+ years.  We have fought at every legislative hearing since our formation.
  2. No other state or national organization has spent as many hours (days, weeks!) fighting for the rights of the individual Utah business owners thereby fighting for every vaping consumer in the state (and beyond).
  3. No other state shares in the unique political climate of the Utah Legislature mixed with the unique influences of the church.  An influence that spills over into every single government sub-agency and an influence that must be carefully catered for and managed.  One size fits all advocacy does not work in Utah.
  4. No other organization locally or nationally has the respect given to us for the positive relationships we have spent 4 years growing.


Ok that’s all well and good, but what have we REALLY done?

Including the one session prior to the formation of our organization, we have:

  1. Beat a legislative bill to ban vapor products entirely.  We included this even though we had not been formed because the same community that came together when we formed, pulled together and beat this with no formal coordination (2010)
  2. Beat a legislative bill to ban flavors (2011)
  3. Lost a legislative bill that (2012):
    1. Lumped vapor products under Utah’s tobacco definitions thereby creating highly restrictive zoning regulations but still allowed for an estimated 45 dedicated vapor shops to open and service the community.
    2. Created an online sales ban for Utah businesses to Utah customers.
    3. Included vapor products & hookahs in the indoor clean air act for 5 years
  4. Helped to defeat a bill to raise the use age to 21 (2013)
  5. In response to our opponents complaints of the industry, introduced the first ever set of industry self-regulations at the state level for retailers and manufacturers to help reduce and prevent against youth access and improve the quality of products being manufactured in the state. (2013)
  6. Fought Bountiful city hall, the city attorney and the mayor through a heavy media and social media campaign (with the help of the only attorney available over the Christmas week holiday) to protect 4 vapor speciality retailers from being shut down 3 days after Christmas (2013/2014).
  7. Beat a legislative bill to over regulate manufacturing, labeling, packaging and more; preventing outside companies from distributing into Utah. (2014)
    1. This had the unfortunate side effect of allowing each individual county to regulate manufacturing and retail sales including varying levels of packaging, labeling and permit requirements.
    2. We worked with several of the county health departments, including flying in specialists from AEMSA to help ensure the manufacturing regulations being introduced were sensible and manageable for both the departments and the industry.
    3. Attended and submitted both written and verbal testimony at every county level regulation hearing available to ensure the bill language was accurate and the regulations were sensible, sustainable and as aligned as possible.
  8. Participated as a presenter in a region-wide health conference to educate mental health workers, nurses and doctors on the positive aspects of vaping as an alternative to smoking. (2014)
  9. Invited to present to doctors and nurses that care for one of the largest Indian populations in the Mountain West on about the positive aspects of vaping as an alternative to smoking. (2014)
  10. Relaunched the Utah Vapers Association into the Utah Smoke Free Association, a formal 501(c)4 trade association dedicated to industry excellence and advocacy to protect the rights of all business owners and consumers throughout the state of Utah. (2014)
  11. Designed and implemented the first ever statewide industry active age verification program at the point of sale through heavy coordination and development with 2 different manufacturers to prove our dedication to cutting off access to youth at the point of sale. A program we tried to introduce at the statewide level which was fought by the retail merchants association and Big Tobacco (2014/2015)
  12. Turned a bill that would have decimated the industry into a good bill by (2015):
    1. Hiring a team of highly skilled lobbyists to bring a level of expertise and professionalism at the capitol our statewide industry has never had.
    2. Killing an 86.5% tax requested by and supported by our Governor (through brilliant CTA assistance from CASAA, NVC and NJOY along with the vaping community input)
    3. Creating numerous amendments to the bill through careful coordination with with the House of Representatives and the Senate
    4. Held one of the first ever roundtables with lobbyists across many industries to align our strategies
    5. Hosted a fly in with key industry and related industry dignitaries (NJOY, NVC, ATR, AVA, Altria, RJR and more)
    6. Received written support to the Senate and House from a notable addiction specialist
    7. Met with and received tremendous support from the House of Representatives and the Senate (including leadership from both) on the strides we have taken as an industry.

All of this doesn’t count the shops and manufacturers we have consulted with over the last 4 years to help them get their start and become profitable.  It also doesn’t include the countless events we hosted where we helped hundreds of smokers make a life changing improvement in their life and thereby improving the lives of their families.  It doesn’t include the positive relationships we developed in the media and public community to help drive a positive image of our industry and vaping community.  We could go on and on but I think the above speaks very clearly.  If you agree with us and are impressed with our achievements in the last 4 years, what until you see what we do in the next few years!

So next time someone suggests to you they are “the first”,  are “the only” or brag about what they bring to the table for the Utah vaping community, you should ask them where they have been when the fights mattered and what have they done to protect the interests of the business and the Utah vaping family….


Keep your cotton wet, your batteries charged and your loved ones close…

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March membership contest


Ok so it’s time for the first UTSFA sponsored member drawing. This has been a long time coming but due to the legislative session, it’s just been too crazy to think about before now. Normally, our monthly drawings will be only for the VIP membership of the organization. But this month to celebrate the end of the legislative session, I’m going to change it up a bit. So now you probably want to know what you are eligible to win?

Both Cuttwood and NJOY joined last month as an affiliate sponsor of the organization and donated products for us to give away to our Utah vaping family. So with the drawing you will get the entire Artist Collection from NJOY​ and from Cuttwood a bottle of Monster Melons, Sugar Bear, Boss Reserve and Unicorn Milk in 3mg/mL. Of course you’ll need something shiny and new to vape it with so we are also including an authentic copper Tugboat mod with a limited edition tugboat RDA donated from Salt Lake Vapors in West Valley.  That’s 270ml of premium e-liquid, a new mod AND an atomizer for your vaping pleasure.  This is a prize pack valued at over $375 that you will NOT want to miss out on!!!


The Rules

All you have to do is be a Utah resident, register on the website and leave a comment below. All current VIP members will be included in the drawing as well but we wanted to make this one big and give everyone a chance.  Since we are asking for folks to register, we’ll do the drawing on March 21st so you need to register by midnight on the 20th.  We will announce the winner on our Facebook page sometime on the 21st.  After the drawing, we will contact the winner to verify both their residency and legal vaping age.

Good luck and vape strong!

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Sine Die 2015



Apologies but this is going to be a very lengthy post. The 2015 Legislative session officially ended at 10pm on Thursday night for the vapor industry. It was a VERY rocky road as the bill we anticipated was introduced at the last possible minute due to a pre-fight regarding the implementation of an 86.5% tax on all products sold. We were able to apply enough pressure to remove the tax which was a HUGE win.


The final 48 hours of the session were very tense with the creation of amendments and further amendments to the amendments. I spent most of the final day of the session at the capitol writing hand written notes to the senators to support our amendment, meeting face to face with several of them and lots of time reviewing changes to the amendment to ensure the language was as good as possible. Generally speaking, we normally either fully support or fully oppose legislation. This was a very unique year in that if we did not have an amendment that both sides could agree with, we would have lost the battle and the original bad bill would have been taken into law and we would have been screwed over.


Ultimately we had to apply the 80/20 rule which, while not ideal, worked out mostly to our benefit. From my vantage point, we made HUGE progress this year through the relationships with the lobbyists. Senators and Representatives were swayed to our viewpoints that we could never have gained support from otherwise. They were impressed with our organization, what we have done and what we are doing. It really was humbling to shake hands with Senators and have them thank US for taking the steps we have/are taking to control youth access and manufacturing quality.  We also received numerous positive comments from the Senators on working closely together with all sides to come up with a final version everyone could live with.  Again, it’s not perfect but it’s the best possible solution we could have achieved.


I would like to thank my leadership team of the UTSFA. They helped me keep my sanity and provided heaps of assistance to keep things moving in the right direction. I would also like to thank (in no specific order) The Americans for Tax Reform, National Vapers Club, CASAA, The Vaping Militia, The American Vaping Association, SFATA, Libertas Utah, Njoy and others I’m likely forgetting for helping get the word out on the taxation and bad regulation and organizing Calls to Actions.


I want to also thank all our vendors, consumers and social media admins for getting involved to call, email and blast social media with the alerts. I’ve seen more “excitement” over the legislation this year than ever before and is apparent how tight our vaping family has become in the last year and I’m proud to be a part of it.


Lastly, I would like to send a HUGE shout out to our lobbyists and the senators who worked closely with us; Andy Stephenson and Charlie Evans our lobbyists and Senators Bramble & Urquhart. These guys worked VERY long days including almost a “House of Cards” all-nighter in the final days of the session. I worked very closely with them throughout the process and learned heaps. These guys really pushed their sleeves up and got into the trenches where you’re up to your neck in political dirt, and came out smelling like roses. You guys are really awesome and we are truly blessed to have you part of the Utah Smoke Free Association family!


We will do a formal debrief on the 22nd with the Board of Directors, Officers and Lobbyists. Following the board meeting, we will have a statewide meeting with all retailers and consumers that wish to attend so mark the 22nd down on your calendars now. I’ll announce the exact timing and location as soon as possible. With that, here’s the breakdown of how things shook out…


What HB415 does:

  • Regulations outlined in the bill go into effect July 1 2015
  • Requires a state issued retail license to sell vapor products to the public. $30/3 years, $20 renewal
  • Introduces penalties for selling to minors and for anyone over 19 that provides vapor products to minors (including parents). Penalties include fines and misdemeanors.
  • Allows advertising so long as the retailer/manufacturer is licensed to sell vapor products
  • Exempts pre-filled, sealed cartomizers from all regulations (Blu, Vuse, Njoy, etc)
  • Preempts current county regulations (after July 1 2016) and requires that by January 1 2016, the state and local health departments in coordination with the public and industry must come up with an agreeable set of regulations to include: labeling; nicotine content; packaging; and product quality. Regulations created do not go into effect until July 1 2016.
  • Keeps the manufacturing level regulations and authority at the county level
  • Allows licensed retailers and manufacturers to set up at age-restricted trade shows and events (19+) – after July 2016
  • Restricts anyone under 19 from being in any vapor or smoke shop without their parent or guardian. This is already law for vapor shops.


What it does not do:

  • Does not change current online sales restrictions. We attempted to introduce language that would allow unfettered sales so long as 3rd party verifications software was used but this was not accepted and was removed.
  • Does not introduce a requirement to use electronic age verification to scan IDs at the point of sale. We wrote an amendment for this but the retail merchants rejected it and lobbied against it before it was even presented thus it was cancelled. Retailers and politicians across the state showed their true colors by rejecting a best practice in age control technology and stated quite loudly through their actions that these bills really are NOT “about the children”.  This is still an organization requirement for our retailers however.
  • Does not ban private person to person sales
  • Does not follow best practices in defining vapor products despite providing the language and asking for it to be changed. This would have required them to rewrite entire statutes of state code of which there was not time to draft into regulations for the session.  We will be working on this however in the interim session with the assistance of our lobbying team.


Status of county regulations:

  • All county regulations remain until July 1 2016. After that, their regulations will only apply to the manufacturing process of e-liquid.
  • After July 2016, counties will no longer be able to have their own rules regarding nicotine content; packaging (caps); and product quality.


What’s next:

We MUST retain the lobbyist for the remainder of the year and into next if we want a seat at the table to design the regulations with highly experienced negotiators. The fight and industry is simply too large for us to manage this internally as we do not have the training or skills to do what they do. Also, the taxation issue WILL be back next year and we need to spend the year to fight this and work to educate all in power why a taxation is bad. We can only do this with the lobbyists and this takes money and growing our membership. This will require that all members of the old Utah Vapers organization join up with UTSFA so we can have the necessary funding to beat all this back to an acceptable level. Otherwise, the state regulations being drafted this year coupled with the proposed tax next year will screw us over and you might as well pack up and leave the state now.


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HB415 Call to Action

There are some strange politics going on in Utah, where rules of process are being waived in order to quickly pass a law.  House Bill 415 risks driving up prices, deny Utah consumers access to the products they enjoy, and may squash many Utah small businesses. This bill must be defeated, or heavily amended, today. This is your last chance to speak out!

How important are convenient access, variety, and affordability to you?

Utah Senators will be hearing House Bill 415 very soon, which will dramatically affect the vapor community’s access to a variety of products by defining them as  “tobacco products” in these bills, narrowly restricting where shops can be located, banning all online sales, dictating how your favorite brands must change their labels (if they are to be continued to be sold in Utah at all), and forbidding nearly all advertising of the products.  To be clear, none of this new law makes the products in Utah better, safer, or less available to minors.  Rather, it appears to be intended to squeeze your local vapor businesses until they just close up and leave the state, while also keeping many of your favorite e-liquid companies completely shut out of selling in Utah.  Contact your senators today and ask them to defeat this bill now with a “NO” vote on HB 415, unless all of the changes outlined below are made in the bill!!!

If this bill becomes law, you will likely pay significantly more for your products that remain available in the state! Companies will have to raise prices to pay for all of the added unnecessary regulations and bureaucratic red tape in this bill and then have to pass this cost onto you.  Also, there will not be many legal places to sell vapor products because of new restrictions on where stores can remain open. So, prices will also likely rise as stores will no longer have to compete for your business.

The new regulations requiring special labeling would mean many of your favorite brands couldn’t be legally sold in Utah.  So, even if you could afford the increased prices, or find a retailer near you that chooses to carry the brand you like, the selection on the shelves will be much less than it is currently.  While some brands will find a way to make a special package for Utah sales, most will likely not want to incur this cost and the risk of legal action if a mistake is made by their distribution process.  As a result, you could quickly find that you cannot buy products you love without driving to a neighboring state

BAD IDEAS DON’T BECOME GOOD ONES JUST BECAUSE THEY ARE PROPOSED EVERY YEAR.  The sponsor of this bill, Rep. Paul Ray, has spent years trying to pass his anti-vapor law. And, his fellow members may be getting worn down from repeatedly defeating his bills.  But, your Senators need to hear from you, the people they have sworn to represent, that you want this bill defeated to preserve your access to these products! Their loyalty needs to be to their own voters, not a bill sponsor who refuses to work with the vapor community on damaging aspects of his bill.

Make sure they understand your story on how these products have changed your life and then ask them to use their own vote to represent you with a “NO” vote on HB 415!

The Senators need to hear YOUR story about:

  • How these products have changed your life
  • How variety, access, and price of these products are important to you.

Suggest the bill be changed so that it:

  • Extends “preemption” to all vapor products, just like they do for tobacco products and cig-a-likes in the bill.  This means that the state law would supersede any local law and would prevent multiple and conflicting regulations in cities and counties. 
  • Defines the products accurately and removes vapor products from the definition of “tobacco.”
  • Requires federal standards for child-resistant packaging and labeling (not Utah-specific ones)
  • Requires vapor stores to risk losing their business license if they break the law rather than requiring them to get a tobacco retailers license.
  • Allows for legal online sales, but only when seller utilizes industry-standard age verification software to prevent sales to minors.
  • Removes advertising restrictions, (the state is at risk of financial loss due to a 1st amendment lawsuit if this restriction remains in the bill).


Please call AND email to ask the legislators to vote “NO” on HB 415 unless these changes have been both proposed and accepted.

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 while anti-vapor groups have sent their high-dollar lobbyists into Utah to persuade your own legislative representatives to 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!

This bill will be voted on and become law by Thursday, March 12, or sooner!  So, please act quickly to let your senator know about your concerns, and how you would like them to vote!   Please call and email the members of the Senate right away. Find your Senator’s contact information here.

If you are short on time to look up email addresses, or don’t feel comfortable writing your own original email, CASAA has this quick and easy form you can use, instead.  You should add a brief edit to their pre-written letter to explain how these products are important to you, so your email isn’t a duplicate of others.  CASAA will send your email to all of the appropriate legislators on your behalf with one click. 

ImportantBe courteous and respectful at all times.  You should assume they know very little about vapor products, why people use them, and that they generally want good information so they can do the right thing for the citizens of Utah.  Your legislator is not your enemy and is your best chance to save your vaping rights.  So, educate them and ask them to support your position that this bill needed heavy amending, but since the sponsor wouldn’t budge, it must be defeated.

If you receive any follow up from your senators, please post them in the comments below.

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Legislative Update – 1 week remaining!

lu_banner I want to thank everyone for coming out to the capitol on Friday to help fight HB0415. An amendment was introduced at the session which we did not have sufficient time to review in a great amount of detail but was not a big improvement. It was certainly a very different hearing than they have been in prior years – much calmer and professional which I attribute to hiring our lobbyists to negotiate behind the scenes and also a session with no direct attack on the consumer base of the industry.

While the bill was passed out “favorably” to move into the next phase, there was enough disagreement brought to light and was agreed by Ray himself that more work was needed.  You can listen to the audio of the session at the following link (21:00 mark)

We will continue working behind the scenes and are meeting with our lobbyists over the weekend to determine the next steps. As it stands currently, the bill is really not improved over the version introduced so more action will be needed. As soon as we have an opportunity to discuss it and map out the necessary actions, we will communicate it to everyone. I will note that full details of our planned actions may not be widely shared as our posts and communications are being closely monitored.

Remember, this is a chess match and each side are planning their moves and counter moves. We are working on the next 10 moves and believe we have a strong chance at winning this match but it will take a series of coordinated and well thought out moves. Please remain patient while we work through things…

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HB0415 Call to Action


Well we told ya’ll things were going to happen quickly and we now have an official Call to Action with only 7 business days left in the legislative session.  This Call to Action will be primarily for business owners as this is where the vast majority of the impact will be; however all members of the vaping community are welcome to attend and participate.  We anticipate that committees will be suspended sometime on Monday (common action during the final week of the session) so this may be the only opportunity for us to make a vocal public opposition.

  • What: House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Standing Committee
  • When: Friday, March 6, 2015 8:00 AM
  • Where: Main Capitol building (with dome), room 450
  • Details: HB0415 is 3rd on the agenda but is behind the proposed bill for the prison relocation.  We anticipate a VERY heavily attended meeting as a result of the prior bill so patience will be needed in the event there is the level of debate we anticipate. I anticipate you will need to block off the first half of your day for this.

So here are the stumbling points with this bill that our Board and our Members have problems with:

  1. We will not support the bill on any level without a FULL preemption clause which would make this bill the “law of the land” and overrule all county level regulations.  As it is written today, this is another set of regulations over and above the existing county level regulations.  We cannot support regulation that requires retailers/manufacturers to follow both unique county and state regulations as this will put a stop to product flow from out of state and make it nearly impossible for in-state retailers/manufacturers to function.  This is not a current practice for ANY other industry in the state OR country.
  2. Permit: We do support the permitting of retailers but we do not support the language that locks retailers/manufacturers into their B&M locations.  The state allows firearms dealers to set up at trade shows (and allows children to attend) thus we will not support the bill so long as this language remains preventing a retailer from fair trade in the open market.  If this language is removed, we can support this piece of the proposal.
  3. Child-resistent caps: While we as an industry support this and have confirmed that all our member retailers only carry liquids using these caps, the language in the bill must reference federal standards so Utah does not create unique regulations that differ from federal standards. If this language is modified, we can support this piece of the proposal.
  4. Labeling: While we as an industry support this and have confirmed that all our member retailers only carry liquids using proper labels, the language in the bill must reference federal standards so Utah does not create unique regulations that differ from federal standards.  If this language is modified, we can support this piece of the proposal.
  5. Definition of Electronic Cigarettes: We object the definition of electronic cigarettes being modified to include “any component of or accessory of”.  This is subjective and could include wires, circuits, switches, glass & metal tubes and other products. We will not support the bill so long as this language is included.
  6. Definition of Electronic Cigarette Substance (e-liquid): Based on the current definition, this would include the raw ingredients of PG, VG, and food flavoring available for purchase at every hobby store, department store and grocery store throughout the state.  We will not support the bill so long as this language is included.

As you can see, there are several points that we are not willing to negotiate on as it will negatively affect the industry for no purpose other than regulating for the sake of regulation.  Members of the board will be present at the committee meeting along with the membership business owners.  We will be delivering a formal statement to the committee and wider House of Representatives by tomorrow evening.  

If you plan to attend and speak, I would ask that you please:

  • Let us know in advance so we can organize our combined talking points to avoid duplication and ensure we stay on topic for ONLY what is contained in the bill.  
  • Dress to impress: Remember, we are in a FORMAL environment and the people we will be speaking to will be in suits and professional business attire.  You will gain more respect by dressing to the environment.  Hats, t-shirts, torn jeans, etc are not considered professional attire.
  • Watch your language: it’s easy to let your emotions take control and “speak your mind” however if you do this, you will defeat what we are trying to do and cause our industry to lose the respect.  Remember, respect is given through your actions and your words more than who you are or represent.  

While this is a public CTA, this bill primarily affects our industry business owners so we will ask that the limited speaking time we will be granted be reserved for the business owners who have the most at stake where possible.  If you are unable to attend but would like to issue written testimony for the record, you can email the committee by copying and pasting the below recipients into an email with your feedback.  Please remember however, keep it professional, civil and without insults or religious insinuations.;;;;;;;;;;;

We also recommend contacting your individual legislative representatives separately asking them to oppose this bill as it is currently presented (version 1).  You can locate your legislative representatives by going here and entering your address and zip code:

If you have any questions between now and Friday, please don’t hesitate to contact a member of our leadership team.

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