February, 2017

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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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2017 HB370 Call to Action

 

This is the second of two URGENT CALLS TO ACTION; this one for House Bill 370 introduced by Representative Bradley Last.


HB370 – Amendments to Tobacco Regulations

 

What this bill does:

  • Moves burdensome licensing requirements from the cities to the county health departments
  • Requires all retailers to obtain independent verification that you are zoned correctly at the business’ cost
  • No option to appeal decisions – county is judge, jury and executioner
  • Requires retailers to obtain tobacco licenses with no indication that the current e-cigarette sales license will not also be required
  • Defines vaping as smoking

What to do: HB370 has been assigned to the House Health & Human Services committee and will be heard in committee on Thursday February 23rd at 8:00 am in room 210 of the Senate building (building with cafeteria). This bill is first on the agenda so please arrive early if possible.

We are asking everyone to use the Vapor Technology Association (VTA) Call to Action portal to email then call the committee members before 5pm on Wednesday and ask them to OPPOSE this bill.

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

See talking points below for details on what to say when you call or choose to directly email.

We are asking business owners to attend the hearing and present your best appearance possible. Remember, this is their house and we must respect the dress code and decorum to be respected as peers. Please do not attend wearing jeans, hoodies, or t-shirts. This environment is one of high respect and you should wear your best dress clothing. UTSFA President Tad Jensen will be running point on this hearing so please look for him when you arrive

Consumers, we do not feel it is necessary for you to attend the hearing as there are more critical bills still pending where your participation will have more impact. However please do call and email the legislators and request them to OPPOSE this bill.

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:

  • Utah already requires that retailers of e-cigarettes obtain a special sales license to sell vapor products which authorizes the state to issue penalties and suspend licenses.
  • If the state feels that cities are not properly issuing licenses and enforcing zoning, penalizing the business for the ineptness of city departments is an abuse of Utah lawmaking. Would we require car owners to install speed limiters if the police were unable or unwilling to enforce speed laws?
  • 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 fair for small business.
  • Vaping is NOT smoking. Vapor products do not burn and are not tobacco products thus does not fit within the definition of ‘smoking’. Nicotine is no more a tobacco product than E-85 fuel is a vegetable.

Legislator Email Phone
Rep. Brad M. Daw (R)  bdaw@le.utah.gov (801) 850-3608
Rep. Mike Kennedy (R)  mikekennedy@le.utah.gov (801) 358-2362
Rep. Stewart E. Barlow (R)  sbarlow@le.utah.gov (801) 289-6699
Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck (D)  rchouck@le.utah.gov (801) 891-9292
Rep. Craig Hall (R)  chall@le.utah.gov (801) 573-1774
Rep. Sandra Hollins (D)  shollins@le.utah.gov (801) 538-1029
Rep. Kelly B. Miles (R)  kmiles@le.utah.gov (801) 538-1029
Rep. Paul Ray (R)  pray@le.utah.gov (801) 725-2719
Rep. Edward H. Redd (R)  eredd@le.utah.gov (435) 760-3177
Rep. Robert M. Spendlove (R)  rspendlove@le.utah.gov (801) 560-5394
Rep. Norman K. Thurston (R)  normonthurston64@gmail.com (801) 477-5348
Rep. Raymond Ward (R)  rayward@le.utah.gov (801) 440-8765

The legislative website no longer lists both office and mobile numbers so we are uncertain which, if any of these are mobile. We ask that you please send a text to the number in addition to calling and request their OPPOSITION of this bill. The text we recommend is: Please OPPOSE HB370 on Thursday and STOP the assault on the vapor industry.

You can also tweet to everyone using the above message with the hashtag #NoToHB370

  • 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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