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Time to fight back

fightback

On August 8th 2016, the Vaping industry will forever be changed. Some of the effects have been felt already. If you don’t want to feel the long term effects permanently you have to do your part to fight.

Doing your part is more than just waiting for “call to actions” or requests to make calls and send letters from advocacy groups. It’s more than raising funds for advocacy groups and following the trash talk bandwagon whenever an anti-Vaping organization spreads misinformation. It’s more than making social media posts, more than being a Vape celebrity or a vape thought leader. It really is about being a vaper and talking to friends and family and educating them.

I constantly see and hear people saying “now is the time to fight” and “they can’t get rid of an entire industry”. Truth is we failed to fight, we failed to focus on the fight against the deeming regs for many years. We knew they were coming, we even knew what might be included in the final version and we did very little to prevent it. Because we failed to fight as one, it is a very real possibility they could end and entire industry.

Here’s what happens August 8th:

  • No new products can enter the market.
  • The clock starts for companies to file PMTA’s for products on the market after February 2007. Companies have two years to file with no guarantee of approval. If no approval is gained that product must be removed from the market.
  • Shops can no longer mix e-liquid, build coils, or replace atomizers or modify devices without registering with the FDA as a manufacturer. Registration deadline is Dec. 31st 2016 for manufacturers. If a shop decides to register as a manufacture they are subject to a significant amount of additional regulation that most will not be able to comply with or afford.
  • No free samples. Period. No exceptions. The FDA requires sampling to have a fee; and that fee cannot be meaningless. It must also be a nominal fee that is equivalent to the value of the sample received. This applies to consumers, employees, and wholesale as well. Say goodbye to free giveaways and free in store sampling
  • Advertisements must have a specific warning statement with special formatting requirements.
  • Flavoring companies who wish to sell to the Vaping industry must disclose their formulations to the FDA and be considered a component of a tobacco product. While this requirement is not dictated by the FDA nor does t have a compliance date of August 8th; any flavoring company who is not going to comply will cause products with their flavoring to have to be removed from the market because changing a flavoring after August 8th would make it a new product and immediately prevent it from being on the market without FDA approval.
  • We become censored. No longer can we claim that Vaping helps people quit smoking, we can no longer claim Vaping is safer than smoking or that it is tobacco harm reduction. Doing so could result in enforcement action by the FDA for a number of different violations such as misbranding or adulteration or false claims. Doing so without approval of a MRTP claim authorization is a huge mistake.
  • All online shops must have true age verification.

There is a tremendous amount of additional provisions that affect us all; mainly through the rules applied to manufacturers (which I won’t get into on here) and importers. Not all of the requirements are fully known yet either.

At this point we aren’t fighting for our rights, we are fighting for survival. Plain and simple. Don’t think for one second that you can sneak around the FDA and continue going forward as if it was 3 months ago. The FDA has the manpower to enforce their rules through Health & Human Services and the state and county health departments as well as third parties contracted by them.

Don’t buy into the notion that the black market will thrive and participating in the black market will only taunt the FDA. The FDA uses the U.S. Marshals to enforce seizures and DOJ for criminal proceedings. Don’t make the mistake of thinking they won’t use them.

The FDA thought of almost everything. Any possible loopholes have been closed up or left open to interpretation by them, not us.

For our industry and community to survive, everyone is a piece of the puzzle, compliance is not a choice, fighting is no longer a choice, they are all requirements for everyone’s survival.

It’s time for our industry and community to join together, grow and mature, and adapt.

Don’t just sit back and wait, if you don’t fight, if you don’t educate, if you don’t stand up for what you believe in, it will all go away.

~Eddie Mock, UTSFA Social Media Manager

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UTSFA in Washington DC

utsfa_capitol

Last week, 9 representatives from the Utah Smoke Free Association Board and our membership attended the first Vapor Technology Association Conference in Washington D.C.  It was an amazing experience and I would encourage everyone to take part in it if the opportunity comes around again. For those of you that are unfamiliar with the VTA, they have been around about 8 months and have been involved in the industry for a few years now but officially became an association in fall of 2015. Tony Abboud, President of the Vapor Technology Association is a highly accomplished Government Relations Specialist, Lawyer and Lobbyist and it showed all week.

Tony Abboud kicked off the conference with Stacy Ehrlich following Tony’s introduction. Stacy is a partner at Kleinfeld, Kaplan and Becker LLP. She has also worked closely with the FDA in the regulation of tobacco products since early in the legislative process of the Family Smoking Control Act. Azim Chowdhury from Keller and Heckman followed Stacy with his take on the FDA regulations and what it will take for Retailers and Manufactures to comply with each individual deadline in the Deeming Rule. Next up on the Speaker list on Tuesday was Seth Mailhot, a Partner at Michael Best & Friedrich LLP. Mr. Mailhot worked for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration from 1994 to 2006 in positions ranging from researcher, engineer, investigator and compliance officer. Following Seth Mailhot, a Lawyer named Marc J. Scheineson spoke in further detail about the Deeming Rule and his experiences with the FDA.

The Deeming Rule is going to affect this industry in a way that is nerve-racking to even anticipate but its important to recognize a few things. The amount of paperwork, studies and costs involved in PMTA’s are far from achievable for much of the industry. That being said, there are still things we can do. Supporting HR2058 and the Cole-Bishop Amendment is key. Both bills are now bi-partisan and making some great traction.

Tuesday evening we attended a surprise evening event across from the Capitol for a private screening of A Billion Lives presented by Aaron Biebert himself. Several staff members of various Senators across the nation attended and from what we heard, they received the information well.

utsfa_handcheckOn Wednesday June 8th, 2016 we began the day with a speech from Ashley Davis of West Front Strategies. Ashley is part of the lobbying team for the VTA and orchestrated the meetings on Capitol Hill with each of our State Senators and their staff. We individually met with the staff of Senators Mike Lee, Orrin Hatch, and Rob Bishop. In addition to asking for each of their support on the Cole-Bishop Amendment, we took the opportunity to educate our Senators about the products we use and the technology that has the opportunity to save 480,000 lives a year. Most were very receptive, interested in what we had to say and seemed like they wanted to help. We finished the day with a meeting with Mia Love and her staff. Her staff was the most engaged by far, took down several pages of notes and couldn’t hear enough from us. Once Senator Love came out of her office, it was nothing short of amazing. She offered her support of the Cole-Bishop Amendment and also made clear that once the Amendment in the Agricultural Bill is actually submitted as it’s own bill, she will support that as well! Senator Love is anti regulatory laws and committed to do whatever she can to help us out to save the industry and the jobs our industry provides.

UTSFA_MiaL

All in all, it was a very successful trip and we were able to educate individuals that know virtually nothing about our industry. If you haven’t sent your story to your Senators and Representatives, I would encourage you to do so as soon as possible. The standard assumption is that your voice may not be heard and your time wasted. I can promise you after the last few weeks, more State officials are becoming very interested in this matter and more then willing to listen. We have made some great progress as of late but the fight is far from over. If you have any further questions about what was discussed at the Conference, please contact Grant Hiller, Eddie Mock or Darrel Schildknecht for more info. Thanks for everything each of you are doing to keep this industry alive. Have a great day and we look forward to seeing you soon.

~Grant Hiller, Industry Director

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First Do No Harm

ignorance

Sometimes I’m amazed at people. Oftentimes it’s for the amazing talents or feats of a particular individual. Unfortunately, mostly it’s due to the amazing ability some people have to ignore fact and never move outside their mind filled with lies and prejudice; even at possible great harm to others. Case in point, read this recent post about the recent groundbreaking study out of the UK (go ahead, I’ll wait).

Now, imagine an individual in a position of influence at the state level. Someone who has the power to create and pass laws at will. Got him pictured? Good. *Note* it’s probably not who you are thinking. Now imagine him sitting behind his computer or smart phone and receiving an email with details of the new study. No embellishment. No commentary. Just actual information directly from the report. Not hard to imagine, right? One would think that someone intelligent enough to get himself elected, go through medical school and be a highly respected member of society would mean they actually take the time to educate himself and has an open enough mind to recognize that science can change and, well, facts are facts. Well…..a man much wiser than I once said “People don’t want to hear the truth because they don’t want their illusions destroyed“.

So with that said, allow me to post some of his response to me and his capitol peers (in red italics) regarding this groundbreaking study he was essentially hand delivered but refused to read prior to responding. If you ask me who it was, I won’t tell you. I’m not the type of person to put an elected leader on blast publicly or hit “Reply to All” and make him appear foolish. That behavior in politics is foolish in it’s own right and simply is not productive. I just want to show my readers his foolishness so hopefully, maybe, he or one of his peers will see this and open their eyes to the truth. [edit – I’ve now received two responses so will try and address both at the same time]

  • I notice that you choose your terms carefully to avoid using the word Nicotine
    • Actually sir, none of the words are mine nor did I carefully choose anything nor avoid using any term. These are the words of the MOST RESPECTED MEDICAL ORGANIZATION IN THE BLOODY WORLD! Look em up. The Royal College of Physicians has over 35,000 doctors in it’s ranks and has been around longer than any and has influenced more groundbreaking health policy than any other.
  • Anyone who uses nicotine for any length of time whether vaping, smoking, chewing, or in patches or gums, will have a prolonged and difficult period of withdrawal if and when they try to break free of it.
    • According to the FDA, you know, those guys out East who YOU want to regulate our industry; well, they claim completely the opposite. The actually published a Notice of Findings in the Federal Register indicating that the “long-term use of the nicotine was safe and does not appear to have significant potential for abuse or dependence.”
    • Big Pharma uses study data from smokeless tobacco use in Sweden (Snus) as their basis for Nicotine Replacement Therapy. They claim, and the FDA supports the fact that “long-term nicotine consumption without smoke has no clinical significance.”
    • Lastly, according to Dr. Paul Newhouse, the director of Vanderbilt University’s Center for Cognitive Medicine (who has done extensive research into beneficial effects of nicotine on the brain); “Nicotine by itself isn’t very addictive at all. Nicotine seems to require assistance from other substances found in tobacco to get people hooked.”
  • Nicotine is the second most addicting substance that we know of (second only to heroin and the opioids).  And it is addicting in whatever form you take it.
    • While I’ll concede that nicotine creates a dependence, not addiction (there is a monumental difference and terminology is important), in those who use it; I bring you back to Dr Newhouse’s research above. His research, and that of virtually every producer of NRT products shows that “It seems very safe even in nonsmokers. In our studies we find it actually reduces blood pressure chronically. And there were no addiction or withdrawal problems, and nobody started smoking cigarettes. The risk of addiction to nicotine alone is virtually nil.”
  • Independent of the form it is taken in has been shown to cause cancers in intestines, lung, pancreas and breast.  It accelerates macular degeneration which causes blindness, and worsens emphysema and raises blood pressure.
    • I’m beginning to see something here now. When you think of vapor products, you must be able to cognitively separate nicotine from smoking. They are two separate subjects here. When nicotine is combine with tobacco smoke, you are 100% correct in that. However, nicotine by itself has never been shown to cause any cancers or the other issues you mention. Never. Ever. In fact, even the FDA, NIH and virtually every cancer center study in the world shows this.
  • Your industry continues to be dependent, as it has for many decades now, on getting yet another generation of the young addicted to nicotine
  • From second responder: We have a whole new group of people working for the tobacco companies that are simply not going to give up the billions of dollars generated from their addicted clients
    • Ahhh even more is clear. For reference, I do not work for nor does this organization receive funding from Big Tobacco. This industry is NOT Big Tobacco. This industry was NOT founded by Big Tobacco. The small business owners have zero financial ties to Big Tobacco. This industry, was founded by a…wait for it…MEDICAL DOCTOR! The over 15,000 small business owners and over 10 million adult consumers in the US are all ex-smokers who have a single goal, to eradicate combustible tobacco and Big Tobacco globally.
    • For a great history lesson (if you are even still reading at this point), here is a fantastic timeline of the industry.

I could continue but this post is already very long and frankly, I have more important things to work on than to respond to rhetoric that is spewed forth by someone who is too narrow minded to open their mind to the fact that science changes. Scientific study after study is proving that a prohibitionist approach is killing people. Claiming that we don’t know enough or there are not enough studies is doing nothing but proving ignorance or incompetence and I honestly have done everything possible to educate you. If your public that you represent along with over 300 scientific studies AND the largest, most respected and most prestigious medical organization in the world cannot convince you; then I wish you all the best in your career and I’ll pray for your patients.

I close by reminding you of an oath you took when you started your profession so very many years ago. Primum non nocere, which for those not speaking Latin is a phrase that means “first, do no harm; one of the core principals of the Hippocratic Oath. An oath YOU had to take in order to get through your prestigious university to get that fancy piece of paper on your office wall. This oath requires that you maintain an open mind and treat patients with the latest information available; not shove your head in the sand (or in other dark places) and ignore the facts.

Doing nothing or ignoring the facts is no different than doing actual harm to those you have pledged to care for. Doing nothing is tantamount to medical malpractice and the 1200 lives you allow to die because of your chosen ignorance is nothing short of genocide. But if you don’t believe in scientific advances don’t worry, it’s only A Billion dirty smokers Lives on the line….Nobody loves them, right?

harm

 

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Society For The Study Of Addiction

ssa

The Society For The Study Of Addiction has released a study titled “A framework for evaluating the public health impact of e-cigarettes and other vaporized nicotine products” which contains the following conclusions:

  • In the US, increasing e-cigarette use has been accompanied by an unusually large reduction in adult and youth smoking prevalence.
  • These products expose users to substantially lower levels of toxicants than combustible cigarettes.
  • A multi-criteria decision analysis estimated that exclusive VNP use is associated with 5% of the mortality risks of smoking. This is comparable to the estimated risks of low-nitrosamine smokeless tobacco.
  • Studies using major biomarkers of cancer and other chemicals in e-cigarettes indicate substantially lower (e.g. 9–450 times) levels compared to cigarette smoke.
  • For dual users, VNP use may translate to a lower quantity and duration of cigarettes smoked. Both may decrease lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) risk.
  • The potential to reduce risk is likely to depend upon the age of initial dual use. Although much use now begins at later ages, VNP use is likely to occur at earlier ages in more recent cohorts of smokers, and thereby provide a greater reduction in cigarette use and toxic exposures over longer periods of use.
  • Initiating VNP use before cigarette smoking may delay or prevent smoking initiation and thereby reduce smoking risks.
  • The population health impact depends critically upon whether the never smoker who tries VNPs would have smoked cigarettes in the absence of VNPs.
  • Studies of youth and young adult use from the United States and other countries using different use measures have found current smokers to be at least 15 times more likely to use VNPs than never smokers.
  • Adolescents and young adults who use VNPs are most likely to be those at higher risk of initiating cigarette smoking.
  • Young VNP experimenters are more likely to engage in other risky behaviors and have executive function deficits like those found in cigarette smokers. These findings suggest that a common liability model is more plausible than a gateway from VNP use to cigarette smoking.
  • Because VNPs are more widely available and often more appealing to smokers than conventional NRT, they have the potential for having a larger impact on the rate of smoking cessation in the population.
  • Concerns have been raised that cigarette smoking will be re-normalized by VNP use. This issue can be addressed by the media and public health campaigns that encourage norms that are hostile to cigarette smoking and at the same time distinguishing clearly between VNP and cigarette risks, discouraging dual use and encouraging exclusive VNP use.
  • The availability of VNPs may provide a justification for stronger policies to discourage cigarette smoking because smokers, particularly those of lower socio-economic status and with mental health issues, are given a less risky and potentially less costly alternative way to service their need for nicotine.
  • Cigarette companies that have entered the smokeless tobacco market have encouraged dual rather than exclusive use, and are likely to do the same with VNPs. By contrast, VNP companies that are unaffiliated with cigarette manufacturers want smokers to switch completely from cigarettes to VNPs.
  • Product content regulations that create regulatory hurdles that only large firms can surmount are likely to favor the cigarette industry and discourage innovation by firms outside the cigarette industry.
  • Cigarette companies do not control VNPs as they do the rest of the tobacco business; many manufacturers of e-cigarettes such as NJOY do not sell cigarettes, and there are thousands of vape shops that are independent of the cigarette industry
  • Retailer point-of-sale restrictions, which limit subsidies by cigarette manufacturers to provide shelf space and price promotions, can reduce price discounting and discourage advertisement displays. This could provide greater shelf space for VNP products to be sold by independent firms.
  • From a public health perspective, VNP policies should aim to discourage experimental and regular use of VNPs by never smokers who would not have smoked otherwise while encouraging innovations in VNP products that promote smoking cessation. The evidence suggests a strong potential for VNP use to improve population health by reducing or displacing cigarette use in countries where cigarette prevalence is high and smokers are interested in quitting.
  • The primary aim of tobacco control policy should therefore be to discourage cigarette use while providing the means for smokers to more easily quit smoking, even if that means switching for some time to VNPs rather than quitting all nicotine use.

The use of vaporized nicotine products (VNPs), especially e-cigarettes and, to a lesser extent, pressurized aerosol nicotine products and heat-not-burn tobacco products, are being adopted increasingly as an alternative to smoking combusted products, primarily cigarettes. Considerable controversy has accompanied their marketing and use. We propose a framework that describes and incorporates patterns of VNP and combustible cigarette use in determining the total amount of toxic exposure effects on population health. We begin by considering toxicity and the outcomes relevant to population health. We then present the framework and define different measures of VNP use; namely, trial and long-term use for exclusive cigarette smokers, exclusive VNP and dual (cigarette and VNP) use. Using a systems thinking framework and decision theory we considered potential pathways for current, former and never users of VNPs. We then consider the evidence to date and the probable impacts of VNP use on public health, the potential effects of different policy approaches and the possible influence of the tobacco industry on VNP and cigarette use.

– Content courtesy of No More Casualties and the Society For The Study Of Addiction

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Nicotine without smoke


rcp-report

Today the Royal College of Physicians, the world’s oldest and most respected medical organization, has released a new 200 page report titled “Nicotine without smoke: Tobacco Harm Reduction” which concludes, among other things:

  • Smokers can be reassured and ENCOURAGED to use e-cigs, and the public can be reassured that e-cig are MUCH SAFER than smoking.
  • E-cigs are NOT a gateway to smoking.
  • E-cigs do NOT result in normalization of smoking.
  • Regulation should NOT be allowed to significantly inhibit the development and use of harm-reduction products by smokers.
  • E-cigs appear to be EFFECTIVE when used by smokers as an aid to QUITTING SMOKING.
  • E-cigs are marketed as consumer products and are proving MUCH MORE POPULAR than NRT as a substitute and COMPETITOR for tobacco cigarettes.
  • The hazard to health arising from long-term vapor inhalation is UNLIKELY TO EXCEED 5 PERCENT of the harm from smoking tobacco.
  • Evidence indicates that e-cigs are being used almost exclusively as SAFER ALTERNATIVES to smoked tobacco, by confirmed smokers who are trying to REDUCE HARM to themselves OR OTHERS from smoking, or to quit smoking completely.
  • In the interests of public health it is important to PROMOTE THE USE of e-cigs, NRT and other non-tobacco nicotine products as WIDELY as possible as a SUBSTITUTE for smoking in the UK.

This report aims to provide a fresh update on the use of harm reduction in tobacco smoking, in relation to all non-tobacco nicotine products but particularly e-cigarettes. It concludes that, for all the potential risks involved, harm reduction has huge potential to prevent death and disability from tobacco use, and to hasten our progress to a tobacco-free society.

A copy of the report can be downloaded here: Nicotine without smoke

Should you wish to discuss the report, the Utah Smoke Free Association is happy to discuss the findings at a time of your choosing. For any questions or concerns about any of the specific findings, we encourage you to reach out directly to the Royal College of Physicians or the UK Centre for Tobacco & Alcohol Studies  which is funded by the UK Clinical Research Collaboration who were the authors of the report.

We encourage all readers of this to forward this information to your legislators, mayors, city councils and health departments for their review and education.

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Vaping and battery safety

more-you-know

It doesn’t take much to short a Lithium-Ion battery.  And it seems with the velocity of information on the internet, we’re seeing more stories about batteries shorting, mods exploding, and someone in our vaping family being injured due to faulty battery or mod handling. We hope that this information can and will help all of our vaping family members have a safe and wonderful vaping experience.

To put things in context, and to understand what happens when a battery shorts out and vents, you should watch this video.  We can assure you that even for a very light short, you may feel the heat and the battery acid well before the explosion, but do you really want to take your chances?  Odds are the short, the vent, and explosion will happen much faster than you can react.

So what steps can we all take to minimize the risk of a battery short and explosion?
 

Storing Batteries

Picture1First, never carry loose batteries in your pocket, purse, the console of your car, a drawer, or any other place where the batteries may touch.  Indeed, your spare batteries should be in a battery case when they are not being used or charged.  The case keeps the batteries aligned such that the ends will never touch and nothing will come in contact with the batteries. Reputable retailers are more than happy to sell you a quality battery case.
 

Transporting Batteries

Picture2You can be sure that one of the most common causes of battery shorts is that the battery (or batteries) were in a person’s pocket and possibly even with a few coins bouncing around.  This is a recipe for disaster, and the result is usually at least 2nd degree burns as diagnosed by the emergency room doctor.  And you probably had to yank your shorts down in front of all your friends.

 

When You Are Not Vaping

None of us are constant chain vapers.  Perhaps we work inside where we cannot vape.  Maybe we’re playing ball and it’s not convenient to carry our mods in our hands.  What can we do with our mods when we aren’t vaping?  This is a tough one, but also this is why I vigorously recommend using a regulated mod.

Picture3It is quite convenient and tempting to tuck your mod into your pants pocket.  No problem there…unless something in your pocket activates the mod.  Did you lock your mod first?  That’s an easy one to forget to do.  Does your mod have an actuator limit, such as only five to ten seconds of activation then it automatically shuts off?  (This is one reason why I prefer regulated mods!)  What happens if you set your mod in the car console and it tips just enough for the actuator to be depressed?  This actually happened to me once, and my unregulated mod caught on fire just as I smelled the burnt atty.  Now imagine that this happens in your pocket…where nothing should ever burn or explode.  (By the way, where are our genius vapers who want to make a belt clip for the various mods we use?!)

 

Do NOT Leave Your Mod in Your Car

Picture4Leaving your mod in your car may seem convenient, but is it safe?  Absolutely not. During periods of even moderate temperatures, the inside of your car can turn into an oven.  This increases the risk of overheating the batteries and potentially causing an explosion or setting your unattended car on fire. Some experts recommend keeping your batteries where they will stay between 50 and 115 degrees Fahrenheit.  To be even safer, avoid triple digit temperatures.  And NEVER leave your batteries in your car!
 

Battery Integrity

Picture5Another cause for shorts, and certainly something that may lend to a mod venting is poor physical battery condition. The “sheath” and negative end of these batteries are typically one single piece, and there is only a small gap between the negative surface and the positive contact.  This is the reason we have battery wrap and plastic tabs involved in the design of the battery.  Believe me when I say this level of protection is just enough to be safe as long as the integrity of the battery wrap is not violated.  Even a small tear like this can pose serious danger!
 

Dripping, Pulsing, and Dry Atomizers

Another piece of safety advice is if you drip, be very cognizant of how quickly your mod consumes juice.  Dry cotton and a current with sub-ohm resistance are poor bedfellows.  If you like to pulse while dripping, wait until you have enough juice in the atomizer first.  Never pulse or activate your mod while the atty is dry.  Here’s one example of how things can go south very fast.
 

Know What You Need In a Battery

Picture6Finally, we all love innovators and geeks when it comes to improving the vaping industry.  We love huge clouds.  But let’s be realistic.  If your mod needs this many batteries, you don’t deserve the teeth that are about to be blown out of your skull.  We’re trying to save lives through tobacco harm reduction.  We’re not building weapons of mass destruction!

A satisfying vape does not require truckloads of power.  It really just needs a proper understanding of watts, voltage, ohms, and amps.  Most regulated mods handle the calculation of watts and voltage, relative to your implementation of atomizer, which is where the ohms rating is established.  Thus, place focus here on the battery, which is where the amps come in to play.

The following chart (we would love to credit the author, but…..) gives guidance on which type of battery is generally best for your usage.  However, lean heavily on your reputable retail specialty vape shop for guidance on your mod and configuration.  That is your best source for expertise and assistance!
 

battery_type
 

Conclusion

Talk with a reputable vaping-specialty retailer (not a smoke shop!) about your battery needs.  Use retailers who avoid cheap clone mods.  Seek out specialty retailers who provide expert guidance on vape safety, your mod, atomizers, builds, etc., and who also stock the materials that provide the best, safest vape experience. These folks are there to help you with your vaping experience and keep you as a lifetime customer.  We’re all in this together, so let’s work together to keep each other safe from harm.  Tobacco Harm Reduction is not just about eliminating tobacco from our lives.

If anyone has additional suggestions for safety or links to publish in the article, please let us know.
 

Kevin Carly – UTSFA Vice-President

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2016 Sine Die

sinedie“House file for bills not passed” is one of the most exciting things we as advocates can hope to see on a bill during a legislative session – at least when the bill it references targets the industry we love so much. This was seen THREE times during this session!

The legislative session has ended and we have been victorious at beating back the Tobacco21 movement for this year in addition to TWO attempts at taxation. This was no small undertaking and took tremendous footwork by not only our organization and our lobbyists but all in the vaping community. It’s no secret that this year was our most intense battle yet with old lies being renewed and new lies being created. We had to go toe to toe with a new high school organization that had their targets set on the industry. While there were high points and low points in this year’s battle, in the end we managed to once again protect over 25,000 consumers, 75 business owners and close to 900 industry employees.

I want to talk about Rep Paul Ray for just a moment. There are some who feel that we don’t go after him enough in a more direct fashion; especially for his use of children as pawns to get his legislation passed. While we do agree that using children as pawns is poor behavior for any politician, we will not directly attack him for it regardless of how many kids get bussed into the capitol. We’ve worked the Utah political scene long enough to know that when you back someone with a personal agenda (some would argue vendetta) into a corner and force them into a defensive posture, it makes them angrier and more prone to combative behavior; which during a legislative session is VERY dangerous and akin to lighting a powder keg. Actions like this can have severe consequences on the outcome and we are not willing to risk the longevity of the industry for “personal satisfaction”; at least not during an active session. To us, having the “stones” means knowing the most appropriate times to use them and when not to.

Politics is not a short game. It is a long strategic game of chess that takes weeks…months. This legislative session, we worked MANY angles behind the scenes to ensure a win which most generally do not see and you’ll rarely hear us talk about. We not only have our lobbyists we work extremely closely with during the session but other allies and supporters we don’t discuss in public as it would damage our strategy. In all this year, we worked closely with 3 other lobbyists, 4 national organizations and a few inside ‘spies’ in the capitol who were in our corner fighting for us. These are relationships that took years to develop and ones that would not have occurred if we always took an attack posture with anyone that tries to pass legislation against our industry. Good politics is not about winning or losing, it’s about finding the most suitable middle ground that all parties can live with.

On to the best part – gratitude. First off, we can’t say “thanks” enough to our lobbyists Andrew & Charlie. These guys put up with LOTS of flack from the legislators because of decisions we make and directions we take; sometimes that change on a whim. Every action we take on our side, angers some at the capitol and these guys bear almost 100% of the criticism and do it with the utmost professionalism and calm attitude. They are in our corner fighting 365 days of the year and are constantly working to improve our industry’s image to the elected leaders. Without these guys up there, this summary would be a very different one this year. They earn every penny of their fees and without solid membership in the organization, we couldn’t fight the bills in the way needed to ensure victory.

Next, we want to thank everyone who took the time to attend the various hearings this year, send emails and make phone calls. Not only did quite a few within the vaping community show up to be seen and heard, but we had our business owners. LOTS of business owners. In fact, we had more business owners participate in the session this year than any year prior. Most of the businesses closed for half the day during the HB333 hearing so all their employees could participate (a first!). We had great testimony this year from not only the UTSFA but from SFATA and VaporLoc owner Brad Parsons who brought one of his many books containing personal success stories from his customers. I (Aaron) personally would also like to thank our President Tad Jensen for agreeing to testify while I was down with the flu during the final days of the session. Testifying in front of a committee on a critical bill is never easy and he accepted the challenge with the utmost desire to protect our entire community.

We want to thank Paul Blair with Americans for Tax Reform and Jeff Stier with the National Center for Public Policy. Jeff took precious time out of his ski vacation in Park City to spend with us at the Capitol helping us convey our message of #ABillionLives and #IVapeIVote. Paul happened to be in town fighting another bill and took the time out of those discussions to help us on HB333 specifically. Lastly, we made new connections with Americans for Prosperity who agreed with us that taxation on the industry is bad and used their resources to help in the fight as well. These groups all believed in our position so much, we didn’t have to spend extra funds to hire external lobbying resources as we had planned for.

We had CASAA working hard to keep our Utah CASAA members and those around the globe informed of our fight. Fist bumps and hugs to Alex and Julie for spending time during what ended up being a heavy travel period for their organization to keep the CTAs updated and accurate. We worked closely with Libertas Utah who support our industry goals and worked hard on their side to keep these bills from gaining added support.

We also had more media attention from around the world on the bills from outlets we never would have thought of. It’s apparent that the fight for vaping is catching the attention of journalists around the world and they all appear to be awakened at the dishonesty of taxing ex-smokers.

So with that, thank you. Thanks to every vaper in Utah and around the world. Thanks to every business owner who fought to save your business. Thanks to our advocacy friends from around the country who believe in the Utah community enough to help fend off the attacks. Thanks to our elected leaders at the capitol such as Senator Mark Madsen and Senator Jim Dabakis who saw through the lies and smoke and continue to support our efforts. And thanks to each of you for continuing to have trust in the Utah Smoke Free Association to keep vaping legal and available to the adults in the state.

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HB333 Call to Action – Hearing

This Call to Action has ended – thank you to everyone that made your voice heard!

This is an URGENT CALL TO ACTION on House Bill 333 introduced by Representative Paul Ray which threatens to crush every vapor industry business in Utah by applying a crippling 86.5% tax on our industry.
 

HB333 will be heard in the House Revenue & Taxation committee on Thursday March 3rd at 08:00 in room 445 of the main capitol building. We ask EVERY industry business owner to close and be at the meeting on Thursday morning until the hearing has concluded (plan on through noon). We ask for all employees of shops be present and every consumer to join in. 
 

They likely will only give time for 2 or 3 people from our side to speak (probably 2 minutes each) so a showing of numbers is more powerful in this case than your voice. If they allow a single short statement from each of you, the most they will allow is your name and if you are for or against the bill.

 

Representative Ray claims that this punitive tax would discourage underage youth from using it, though he has not presented any evidence that the tax would achieve his goals; the fact he anticipates $11 million in revenue is proof this is about adult control more than youth. Further, it is improper to punish adults financially simply because some youth may be violating the law that already prohibits them from purchasing and possessing these items.
HB333 will:

  • Introduce a regressive 86% tax (based on wholesale cost) on all e-liquid, hardware and accessories in Utah (excluding batteries and chargers). 
  • Require Vapor Specialty stores to obtain licenses to sell cigarettes despite the fact they sell none.
  • Classify vapor devices and accessories as tobacco paraphernalia

 

As a matter of priority TODAY, we ask that you please contact all members of the House Revenue & Taxation committee both by phone and email to also ask them to “support you as a consumer or business owner by opposing HB333.”

Suggested talking points (just pick one or two but be prepared for questions just in case): 

  • Let them know that you do not condone the use of e-cigarette products by youth but imposing punitive taxes that will affect adult consumers is not an effective method
  • Remind them that the regulations from last year’s session have not even taken effect yet and the sponsor wishes to place an even tighter stranglehold on the industry.
  • Nicotine is no more a tobacco product than milk is a beef product.
  • Let them know that the UK government recently released the most comprehensive study to date and finds e-cigarette products to be over 95% safer than combustible tobacco and are promoted to their smoking residents resulting in the most dramatic decline of smoking in history.

 

Important: We can’t say this loud enough – Be courteous and respectful at all times on the phone. If you attend the hearing, do NOT show up in torn up jeans, t-shirts, hoodies, etc. You are in a highly respectful location so dress your best (think weddings, funerals and church). 

 

House Revenue & Taxation Standing Committee

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HB333 Call to Action

This is an URGENT CALL TO ACTION on House Bill 333 introduced by Representative Paul Ray which threatens to crush every vapor industry business in Utah by applying an 86.5% tax on our industry. If enacted, the bill will protect the tobacco companies by making cigarettes far cheaper and more readily available. His bill expects to raise over $11 million in tax revenue, will force over 75 retail and liquid manufacturers to close down and file bankruptcy, placing over 850 Utah residents on the unemployment line.  This regressive tax will have the opposite intended effect by forcing the adult consumers back to smoking deadly tobacco cigarettes seriously affecting the lives of every family member through direct exposure to second-hand smoke.

Representative Ray claims that this punitive tax would discourage underage youth from using it, though he has not presented any evidence that the tax would achieve his goals; the fact he anticipates $11 million in revenue is proof this is about adult control more than youth. Further, it is improper to punish adults financially simply because some youth may be violating the law that already prohibits them from purchasing and possessing these items.

HB333 will:

  • Introduce a regressive 86% tax (based on wholesale cost) on all e-liquid, hardware and accessories in Utah (excluding batteries and chargers). 
  • Require Vapor Specialty stores to obtain licenses to sell cigarettes despite the fact they sell none.
  • Classify vapor devices and accessories as tobacco paraphernalia

HB333 has been assigned to the House Revenue & Taxation committee and we are asking everyone to email and call your representatives and ask them to oppose this regressive tax on the products that have helped over 25,000 Utahans and over 10 million US smokers successfully move away from toxic cigarettes. We do not have a date yet for the hearing but when that is known, a separate note will be posted in social media to alert you to the date and time.

  • First, we ask that you personally contact your Senator and Representative. Let them know that you are a voter in their district and ask them to oppose HB333. Libertas Utah has a tool to enter your street address and zip code and locate them: Legislative Tool
  • Secondly, we ask that you please contact all members of the House Revenue & Taxation committee both by phone and email to also ask them to “support you as a consumer or business owner by opposing HB333.”

Suggested talking points (just pick one or two but be prepared for questions just in case): 

  • Let them know that you do not condone the use of e-cigarette products by youth but imposing punitive taxes that will affect adult consumers is not an effective method
  • Nicotine is no more a tobacco product than milk is a beef product.
  • Let them know members of our own legislature have suggested that we should be incentivizing the use of the products rather than taxing or over regulating them.
  • Let them know that the UK government recently released the most comprehensive study to date and finds e-cigarette products to be over 95% safer than combustible tobacco and are promoted to their smoking residents resulting in the most dramatic decline of smoking in history.

Important: We can’t say this loud enough – Be courteous and respectful at all times. You should assume they know very little about vapor products and also that they generally they want good information so they can do the right thing for Utah citizens. So, educate them on how these products have changed your life and ask them to support your position politely, for best results. 

 

House Revenue & Taxation Standing Committee

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I Vape I Vote

IvapeIvote

ATTENTION UTAH!

There are several Calls to Action in the works that will be released soon. In the meantime, it is VITAL that you take action NOW and make sure you are REGISTERED TO VOTE!

We will be hosting a few in-person “I Vape I Vote” voter registration events very soon but in the meantime, please do your civic duty and register to vote. The only way we can help beat bad legislation, is to ensure those introducing it do not get reelected. Vapers ARE voters and we are 10 million strong. Get registered, make your voice heard and lead by example!

Please click on the picture above to register online TODAY!

 

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