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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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2016 Elections

electionWe 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

 

Contacting the candidates:
We encourage everyone to get out and contact everyone running for public office in your district or state. Most should have Facebook accounts that they or their staff monitor daily and is an easy way to get a message to them. You should also look for their campaign pages online and contact them via email that way so there is a good paper trail. We have already received responses to most messages sent and at least one has generated a face-to-face meeting. Some suggestions on things to discuss (industry related of course):
  • 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.

voicevote

 

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A Billion Lives SLC

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/

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Casino night advocacy fundraiser

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The Utah Smoke Free Association and the Wyoming chapter of SFATA have teamed up for our 2nd annual Advocacy Casino Night fundraiser to support vaping advocacy. The majority of all proceeds raised will go to support the Right to be Smoke-Free Coalition (www.r2bsmokefree.org) and their legal fund for the FDA lawsuit and 100% of all proceeds will stay in advocacy.

Following Wyoming and Federal laws, this event is open to the public and you must be 18 or older with a valid government issued ID to enter – MUST HAVE CURRENT AND VALID ID TO ENTER, NO EXCEPTIONS

Admission is $10 (cash only) for entry only or $15 (cash only) if you want event entry PLUS the gift bag, casino points, beverage coupon & 5 prize tickets (only 50 gift bags available).

We have Casino Parties of Utah providing gambling fun for all participants from 5-9pm with Blackjack, Craps and Roulette tables. There will be food provided along with soda, beer and malt beverages (21+ strictly enforced) for an additional cost. We are also working on bringing in advocacy experts to talk to everyone about the federal and state battles to help each of you fight back against the unjust regulations.

Please see our Facebook event for full details: https://www.facebook.com/events/562646627270722/

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August 8th 2016

aug8Today 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:

  1. Visit august8th.org to fill out the form and urge your federal representatives to support HR2058 and the Cole/Bishop Amendment.
  2. 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/
  3. Support the Right2Be Smoke Free Coalition by donating money to help fund the lawsuit against the FDA https://www.r2bsmokefree.org/donations/fda-contribution/
  4. 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….#ABillionLives

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Utah Online Sales Call To Action


cta

Due to the online sales ban, the community has been asking how they can help. While this cannot be fixed in the immediate term, there is something you can do. This will be a long-term call to action with no specific timeline for now. Without a voice, your elected representatives do NOT know that you are affected.

 

All members of the community should contact their location specific legislator via phone, email or in-person and ask that they repeal this ban in the upcoming session. Business owners need to be organizing face-to-face meetings with their elected representatives. Do not contact a legislator that is not your representative for where you live or where your shop is located since they do not represent you.

Most legislators do not even know that the illegal ban was instituted as the sponsor of HB415 during the 2015 session did not disclose the language to anyone nor was it discussed in committee or debated when presented for approval. Others think it was defeated and never implemented however our attorney’s tell us otherwise. If they tell you the ban doesn’t exist, let them know that the language in the “Electronic Cigarette Licensing Act” requires out of state businesses to obtain a Utah license and open a location to sell locally, which is the illegal portion. Request that they review the statute in detail and if necessary, follow up with the Utah legislative attorneys.

You can find your elected representatives here: http://le.utah.gov/GIS/findDistrict.jsp

We understand that everyone is passionate about this and many are quite emotional over the situation. Remember to be VERY polite, factual and non-emotional when you speak to them. Getting angry or being insulting will do more harm and have serious negative repercussions for the industry. In short, kill them with kindness.

A few talking points to consider:

  • Let them know that you vape and you vote and their support will mean your support at the polls this November.
  • We do not condone the use of vapor products by underage youth but creating a prohibition for over 35,000 adult residents due to the actions of a small group of offenders will not solve the issue. (Think of it this way, would a gun ban stop the criminals?)
  • Banning online products makes combustible tobacco more accessible for roughly 1/3 of our state.
  • Let them know how this will affect you personally

You’ll want to keep emails short and to the point and remember to be polite. Anything that takes more than 1-2 minutes to read will get long and the point will get lost. If you are able to speak to them, respect their time and be as brief as possible but remain polite.

Lastly, remember that our legislature is part-time and they are only at the capitol one or two days a month this time of year so their response may be a bit slow.

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