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Your board of directors and officers met last week for our regularly scheduled board meeting and wanted to share a few important updates with everyone.
First off, we officially welcomed Tad Jensen as President and Eddie Mock as the Social Media and Promotions manager into our ranks. They are excited to represent everyone and are bringing some awesome ideas of which will be announced in the next few weeks. We met with our lobbyists to understand the current climate at the capital and around the state. He was provided with education from the board and has committed to helping us get in front of many different forums to try and protect every business owner in the state. More on this in a minute…
For a bit of history, the Utah Smoke Free Association (formally the Utah Vapers) was founded out of passion for the industry by a consumer with a goal to bring the vaping community together, consumers and vendors alike. It was formed as an outlet to bring the community together and have fun but also as a method to communicate with everyone when important battles needed to be fought. At the time of the formation, the industry was just coming under fire and faced a very real threat of extinction before it had a chance to live. With limited resources, great personal sacrifices and only a few thousand dollars annually, we were able to fight off bad legislation for 3 out of 4 years. In November of 2014, the organization was formalized as a federally registered 501(c)4 trade association and we hired lobbyists to take our industry to a new level and help protect us in ways we can’t individually fight as an industry.
Today, the organization is funded exclusively through professional and consumer membership dues and any donations we happen to receive. Approximately 80% of our funding received goes to paying our lobbyists with the remaining 20% paying for administrative and organizational expenses (this IS a business with expenses). We do have a goal to reduce the administrative funding to 10% but the first year is generally more expensive due to set-up costs. Nobody on the board has ever nor will ever receive a salary and this is part of our legal filings with the IRS. Yes there is a cost for joining the trade association however lobbyists, websites, printing, etc are not free.
With that said, we pay our lobbyists (we have 2) the total sum of $60,000/year and make this payment on a quarterly basis. Considering the going rate of a professional lobbyist, this is a steal considering that we get 2 for the price of 1. We currently have paid them through July 1st which means they have been paid a total sum of $30,000 to date. We need to pay them another $30,000 to keep them on staff through the end of the year. We currently have a balance in our account of $9363 and change which means we are $5700 short in retaining them for the 3rd quarter of the year and $20,637 for the full year; which does not include any funds for operational costs. Without our lobbying team, the very livelihood of the industry in Utah is at tremendous risk. During the next legislative session, we will be fighting taxation, regulations and any number of other attempts to control our industry in ways that cannot be effectively fought during public hearings. We need to fight to protect the rights of each business owner due to city/county level errors in licensing that are already costing our industry hundreds of thousands of dollars due to public policy incompetence. This is where the lobbyists come in. They have the political relationships at the capitol, relationships with the health departments, relationships with cities & counties and a level of expertise in politics none of us ever will. Simply put, if we cannot fund them, we as an industry will not survive.
As it stands today, our membership consists of 19 retail locations, 1 dedicated e-liquid manufacturing facility, 2 distributors and 3 affiliate members for a total of 25 members (see the Membership Directory for a full list of all members). Statewide, we estimate there are around 45 retail shops and approximately 10 dedicated manufacturers. In order to retain our lobbyists for the Utah industry to survive, we need every vapor industry business owner, every consumer and all others who support the goals we are trying to achieve to dig deep and get involved. Associations such as the Utah Smoke Free Association bridges the gap between the local, state and federal levels. Membership is open to vaping industry businesses located, or with a business interest, in the Utah market. Participation in organizations like this are key for your survival in this industry. Details of the costs of joining can be found on our membership & benefits document.
We have worked hard for 4 years to fight the political rhetoric spewed forth by our media, legislators, health departments and public. We have proven time and time again that we are part of the solution, not part of the problem. Your board and officers all strongly feel that if we cannot regulate ourselves, it will be done for us whether we like it or not. So this is your chance to prove it to not only your customers, but to the Utah public. Let’s fight this rhetoric together as a community instead of fighting internally and against one another.
If you know of any vapor industry or corporate sponsor that would like join and show their support, they can demonstrate this support by joining or donating to the association. Simply send them to our website and click the “Join Us” link on the Professional Membership page to fill out the membership form. After submitting, a member of the board will be in touch as soon as possible. If you don’t want to join but do want to contribute to the fight, you can donate via PayPal on our donation page.
Lastly, some have called into question our funding and as per our IRS requirements, our annual tax filings are always available upon official request. To date, we have not received any requests however for transparency, we are publishing it here for anyone to view that is interested. Keep in mind, the UTSFA was officially formed in November 2014 therefore 2014 is the only filing available. It is posted below so feel free to review at your leisure and if you have any questions, you may use the Contact link to send an email to the Board of Directors.
As always, we are here to protect the business owners rights to operate and the consumers right to vape so vape on and vape strong my friends and family!by
The FDA Deeming Authority Clarification Act of 2015 (HR 2058), introduced by Representative Tom Cole of Oklahoma, would save the U.S. vapor industry from being decimated by improper regulations by the FDA. This bill would amend the Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act to change the grandfather date for “deemed tobacco products.” This change would allow for all vapor products currently on the market to remain on the market without being subject to the burdensome (read: prohibitive) pre-market FDA approval application process.
While CASAA and the UTSFA maintains the position that a separate regulatory scheme should be developed for vapor products*, we are proud to support HR 2058.
We are asking consumers to express strong support for HR 2058 and urge your representatives to co-sponsor this bill.
Please share this link on social media:
We are also asking members who are not residents in Representative Cole’s district to send a written letter by traditional means. You can print out our pre-written letter here. We have provided the mailing address to his Norman, OK office below. As usual, you are encouraged to write your own letter adding your personal story, but feel free to copy ours.
Rep. Tom Cole
Additionally, residents in Kentucky, North Carolina, California, and Florida living in a district represented by one of the sponsors of H.R. 2058 will be receiving a separate email that links to a message tailored to offering support for the effort of their congressmen.
CASAA Legislative Team
(Writing Tip #1) If you have a lot to say, please craft your email in a separate word doc and then copy/paste it into the field provided. If you take too long, they system will time out and you will lose your work.
(Writing Tip #2) Although we’ve provided a prewritten email with compelling talking points, we would strongly encourage you to edit the email because personalized communications to legislators are far more persuasive than form letters. At a minimum, PLEASE INSERT YOUR PERSONAL STORY (just a few sentences) in the text of your email.
*Although CASAA feels that moving the grandfather date to a point in time that will protect consumer access to the current variety of vapor products on the market is a step in the right direction, this is by no means an ideal solution. Consumers should keep in mind that if this Act is adopted by Congress, innovations in safety, quality, and variety of devices and liquids essentially will be frozen at the time the FDA deeming regulation is finalized. Moreover, this change in the grandfather date will not exempt manufacturers from registering their products with the FDA, a process that will still remove a large number of vapor products from the market. CASAA maintains the position that a separate regulatory scheme should be developed for this product category.
The importance of science-informed policy and what the data really tell us about e- cigarettes
David B. Abrams (email@example.com) Raymond Niaura (firstname.lastname@example.org) – 24 April 2015
- David B. Abrams 1,2,* * Corresponding author Email: email@example.com
- Raymond Niaura 1 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org 1
- Department of Health, Behavior and Society, Bloomberg School of Public Health, The Johns Hopkins University, 624 N. Broadway, Suite 280, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA 2
- Department of Oncology, Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, Georgetown University Medical Center, Washington, DC, USA
“If properly regulated and responsibly made and marketed, especially by independent manufacturers who have less conflict as Big Tobacco does by also selling lethal cigarettes, ANDS have the potential to improve the public health. Together with traditional tobacco control strategies ANDS can speed the demise of the lethal cigarette by deterring progression to lethal cigarettes among non-users and by providing smokers who do not want to, or have tried and cannot “just quit”, with a substantially safer alternative – without causing the suffering from the devastating health consequences imposed on them by the need to inhale toxic cigarette smoke. As Dr. Russell stated so prophetically 40 years ago and which is still true today, “people smoke for the nicotine but die from the tars” .
ANDS raise legitimate fears of possible risks and these need to be watched and managed, but misinterpreting or selectively presenting negative preliminary data does not serve the public health. The precautionary principle is potentially violated if ANDS are prematurely demonized and are then seen by the public as simply another dangerous tobacco product instead of a way to make lethal cigarettes obsolete. Then we may well have missed the tobacco control opportunity of the century ”
The elections for the Utah Smoke Free Association President and the Social Media & Promotions Manager have come to a close.
The Board of Directors are excited to announce that Tad Jensen has been elected as our new President and Eddie Mock has been elected as our Social Media & Promotions Manager. We will officially “install” them on our leadership board in about 2 weeks at the upcoming board meeting and you can expect to see more from both as the year progresses.
Your leadership team is now fully staffed and we will begin working hard on several key areas such as: updating our retail and manufacturing standards, retail and manufacturing inspections, meetings with health agencies, meetings with state/city officials and more.
We look forward to their representation of the industry and great ideas they’ll bring to improve the industry in Utah. Please help us by welcoming both to the organization!
The official results as recorded from our election form are below.