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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 The bill to increase penalties was withdrawn to undergo further investigation into where the real problem with underage sales is originating from.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.by
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!by
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.by
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.
|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.by
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!by
We 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
- 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.
Thanks to the hard work by UTSFA member Riverwalk Vapors, Salt Lake City will be a host city for A Billion Lives.
The United Nations’ World Health Organization projects that a billion people will die this century from smoking. This award winning and Oscar contending documentary highlights the lies and corruption by top governments and health agencies around the world intent on allowing smokers to die all in the name of money.
Big brother has lied again…They’re trying to force an entire industry out of business that is helping people to stop smoking. ~ Herman Cain
The truth about the corruption will be aired at 9:30pm on Thursday November 3rd at Brewvies Cinema Pub in Salt Lake City. The Utah Smoke Free Association has sent tickets to top Utah government officials, elected representatives, health agencies and media so they may attend and learn about the corruption many of them have unknowingly fallen prey to. Smoking related disease kills Utah smokers at a rate of nearly 5 times that of the opioid epidemic and our state is not doing enough to fix the problem.
“The makers of this film did their due diligence, the narrative of this movie is immaculate.” ~Kevin Crowley
As of this posting, there are less than 60 tickets available for this one night only show. Tickets are $13 each (with an add’l $1 processing fee) and must be purchased online via: https://www.tugg.com/events/a-billion-lives-putz. The ticket fees cover the cost of the theater rental, fees for distribution (Tugg), production company costs and a percentage of the ticket sales are returned to the Utah Smoke Free Association to support statewide advocacy.
We encourage everyone in the community to reach out directly to their elected representatives to alert them to this premier and suggest they make the time to view it. The UTSFA is happy to provide tickets to them at no cost to them or the taxpayers but they will need to request it directly from us.
We have created a Facebook event to help show support and provide a location for people to discuss the event https://www.facebook.com/events/314815875557279/by
September marks the time of the year that the UTSFA begins to refocus our time and effort away from the summer and towards the January start of the legislative session. On September 24th, we will be co-hosting our annual fundraiser to raise funds not only for Utah advocacy, but most importantly for the fight on the federal level. What’s going to happen in Utah is still a mystery but we can tell you we have some things of our own in the works. What we expect to happen this year is:
- A return of Students Against Electronic Vaping, a statewide high school group
- A third return of Tobacco21
- A fifth attempt at taxation
- A bill to ban all vaping at vapor specialty retailers
- A bill to clean up the 2015 HB0415 bill due to the FDA deeming regulations
- A bill to address the federally illegal nature of prior bills
We believe this to just be a partial list of what will come our way this next session. This will be the most active legislative session to date and we need all hands on deck. We need the ENTIRE community to be in close contact with their elected representatives so they understand our community is large and will not sit back and be walked all over.
Advocacy isn’t as cheap as it once was as the battles now require the industry to employ a team of lobbyists and attorneys to help keep the bills at bey and doing significant damage to the industry. Simply showing up to hearings and meetings is no longer enough.
If you own an industry business and are in Utah but are not supporting the local fight financially, please understand one important point. If a tax bill passes, the Utah industry will end and your business will close. It takes lobbyists and the strong relationships we have with several powerful national organizations who back the UTSFA efforts to keep this from happening. Look what happened in Pennsylvania, Washington DC and other areas that passed their taxes. Within weeks of the tax passing, businesses started closing down and employees were left without jobs. Lobbyists and Attorneys are NOT cheap and we need ALL businesses to contribute to the local fight so we have sufficient funds. We also try and be prepared to bring in some very powerful national allies but alas, they too are not free.
If you are a business and want a stronger voice in the fight, click here to join as a member or a sponsor and stand up to help us fight back. If you are a consumer, consider donating $20 or as much as you can to help out – this is less than one Beans & Brew speciality coffee a week. To see which of the excellent Utah industry businesses contribute financially to help protect our right to vape, click here.by
As many have seen, the Utah Dept of Health has released an update to the HB0415 regulations (Rule R384-415) on September 1st. Anyone may submit public comment through 5pm MDT on October 3rd and providing no further updates are required, will have an effective date of 10/10/2016. The changes are intended to clarify the rule in light of the FDA’s Tobacco Control Act Deeming Rule.
You may review the revised rules by clicking here
The UTSFA has reviewed the updates to the regulations and the following is our assessment of the language:
- Requirements for batch numbers have been removed, any FDA requirements remain
- Requirements for specific qualities of ingredients has been removed
- Requirements for Utah specific labeling requirements have been aligned to match FDA requirements. This means,
- No requirement for tamper evident warning
- No unique Utah language for nicotine warning, any FDA requirements remain
- No requirement for manufacturing name, any FDA requirements remain
- No requirement for an ingredient list, any FDA requirements remain
- A Utah specific requirement for non-nicotine warning was added
- The maximum nicotine content rule remains
- The rule allowing for a 10% variance in nicotine content of a final mixed product has been removed
- Requirement for use of a tamper-evident feature has been removed
- Enforcement of the rules remains with the Departments of Health
- Requirements for record keeping has been removed.
- Language added that allows for only the sale of FDA approved products after August 8, 2019.
Based on a few of the items above, the UTSFA will likely be submitting feedback during the public comment period to try and correct a few items we believe are in violation of the new federal regulations and express our concern the modifications were done in isolation without input from the committee who designed the regulations. As further updates become available, the UTSFA will inform the community accordingly.by
Today marks the last day before the deeming regulations kick in. As of tomorrow, the landscape of the vapor industry as we know it changes dramatically. This is just a snapshot of what this means for our beloved industry:
- Vapor businesses are being forced to lie to consumers and are not allowed to make any claims through advertising, public statements, or their customers that these products are at least 95% less harmful, have fewer or no additives, has no tar or carbon monoxide when compared to other tobacco products. This ONLY applies to businesses though so for the consumers, keep preaching the truth because you are now the only voice of truth we have.
- Shops, manufacturers and advocacy organizations are no longer allowed to give away free samples to the consumers; this applies to flavor sampling and giving away free product via rewards (“Buy 2 get 1” IS acceptable however). Customers MUST pay for sampling BEFORE you can sample a new flavor. For our retailers, you will need a SKU set up in you POS where you can record and show evidence of the charge. If you are a consumer, today August 7th, is the last day you can sample without paying so get out there TODAY and support your local vape shops to try as many of the new lines that have been introduced in the last few months.
- No new products, improvements to existing products or innovations may be introduced to the market. This means:
- No new liquids that were not previously sold or marketed prior to August 8th can be introduced.
- Retailers must stop building coils & changing cotton
- Retailers cannot teach a customer how to assemble their device and use it safely, fill their tanks, drip e-liquid on cotton or offer a repair service.
- All retailers MUST check your government issued photo ID for EVERY customer who appears under the age of 27 – no exceptions. Even if you are a customer who has frequented the location for years, you must produce your ID for every single transaction if you appear under 27.
We know this is a difficult time for everyone and as of Monday, our retailers and manufacturers will be officially entering into a new time of uncertainty. We ask all consumers to remain patient with the businesses while they work to ensure they meet all the necessary regulations. There is still much work to be done on their side to meet the upcoming further deadlines so please be understanding. We would like to ask all consumers to funnel their frustration towards the federal fight. There are a few things you can do to help:
- Visit august8th.org to fill out the form and urge your federal representatives to support HR2058 and the Cole/Bishop Amendment.
- Participate in the #WeAreVapor call to action by taking a photo in front of your favorite shop and posting to social media and tagging your federal representatives http://utsmokefree.org/2016/07/vta-consumer/
- Support the Right2Be Smoke Free Coalition by donating money to help fund the lawsuit against the FDA https://www.r2bsmokefree.org/donations/fda-contribution/
- Every vapor business should be supporting advocacy through joining or financially supporting an organization of your choice who helps fight the local battles. There are national organizations such as SFATA, CASAA, AVA, and VTA who are focused heavily on the national FDA fight and they need & deserve your support too.
We ask all customers to please NOT get angry at your retailer as they must do all this to follow federal laws to avoid stiff penalties. This is NOT the time to give up but you should NOT stay calm. We must work TOGETHER instead of against one another and focus our attention on the preservation of the industry that each one of you fought hard to build. Write your congressman, send in letters to the editor of your local papers, donate money to the cause but do not just sit back expecting advocates to fight the fight. This is a time that our #VapeFam must come together to fight. This is a battle that will take EVERYONE to participate in to help win back the industry that was founded to save lives….#ABillionLivesby