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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
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.by
Despite our best efforts, the state of Utah would rather destroy than protect the health of our adults and children.
As of July 1 2016, a consumer online sales prohibition goes into effect for all e-cigarette and vapor products; e-liquid, hardware, accessories…all of it. This means that no matter the location of the vendor, any business selling to a Utah resident without being physically face to face with the customer will now be illegal. This is devastating news for the over 35,000 consumers statewide. Around half of these consumers have no access to specialty retailers to purchase quality products due to our draconian zoning regulations which forces them to purchase online. We fear that this will drive these non-smokers to return to smoking combustible tobacco and elevating the states smoking rates after historic declines thanks in part to vapor products.
The prohibition is due to language that was added into 2015 HB415 that was not discussed nor debated and was a DELIBERATE bait and switch tactic by Representative Paul Ray. He knew the language was there yet when the bill was presented to the industry, the public, the legislative committees and his peers he chose NOT disclose the true intent. We find this conduct unbecoming of an elected state representative and is the most unethical action in the 6 years of legislative activity to destroy an industry founded to eradicate combustible tobacco. In the professional world we all live in, this would amount to nothing less than fraud and we would be sued for it.
The online ban was Rep. Ray’s method to control the illegal purchasing by underage youth since there is little that can be done to punish them for their illegal behavior. Unfortunately by taking this path, he has done nothing more than to force ADULT consumers outside the Northern, Central and Southern Wasatch Front back to smoking deadly combustible tobacco since the zoning regulations prohibit the opening of qualified vapor specialty retailers. This is bad for the public health and bad for the consumers, their children and loved ones who will once again be forcibly exposed to second hand tobacco smoke.
The UTSFA has been working on resolving this for a few months but we only received news on Wednesday that there was nothing we can do at this time. We are working on other avenues but it will take time and funding to resolve thus there is nothing that can be done about this in the short term.
If you are a consumer in Utah who will be affected by this, we strongly encourage you to reach out to your representatives and senators and ask that they repeal this ban in the upcoming session. Without a voice, your elected representatives do NOT know that you are affected. You can find your elected reps here: http://le.utah.gov/GIS/findDistrict.jsp
If you would like to help the UTSFA fight this unconstitutional ban, you may donate once or as often as you can afford to help us take the steps to keep vaping available for adult consumers statewide.
The Utah Smoke Free Association is a registered in the state of Utah and federally recognized as a 501(c)4 non-profit trade association. Therefore we are not a charitable organization and donations or pledges are not tax deductible as such.by