CT – Take action to stop and outrageous tax on vaping!

On September 8, 2017, Governor Dannel Malloy delivered a compromise budget to the Connecticut legislature that contains an outrageous 75% wholesale tax on vapor products and a $2.00/oz hike in the tax on smokeless tobacco (bringing the total tax to $3.00/oz).

Complicating matters is the fact that Connecticut has been without a budget for more than two months. This is contributing to an urgency to pass this budget this week.

Please take action now and send a message to Governor Malloy and key lawmakers in the Connecticut legislature urging them to remove this tax proposal from the 2018-2019 budget.

Take Action – Send a Message

Remember to make a call today too. The important numbers and talking points for you to use on your call are listed below.

Dannel Malloy 1.860.566.4840
Joint Committee on Appropriations
Paul M. Formica (R-S20) Co-Chair 1.800.842.1421
Catherine A. Osten (D-S19) Co-Chair 1.860.240.0579
Toni E. Walker (D-H093) Co-Chair 1.860.240.8585
Melissa H. Ziobron (R-H034) Ranking Member 1.860.240.8700

When you call, your message is simple:

  • State that you are opposed to enacting a 75% wholesale tax on vapor products.
  • “Please do not raise taxes on low-risk, smoke-free tobacco and nicotine products.”
  • Share your story about how vaping or switching to a low-risk tobacco product has helped you.

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Center for Tobacco Products is Lying to the Public About Youth Tobacco Use

This month, the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products (CTP) updated a chart purporting to show trends in youth tobacco use over the past 5 years.

Here are the facts (i.e., the “true” facts) displayed in the chart:

1. Youth cigarette use (among high school students) dropped by a huge amount from 2011 to 2016.
2. Cigar use dropped substantially from 2011 to 2016.
3. Pipe use dropped substantially from 2011 to 2016.
4. Smokeless tobacco use dropped slightly from 2011 to 2016.
5. Hookah use was essentially the same in 2011 and 2016.

Given those facts, here is the key question:

What happened to overall use of tobacco among high school students during the time period 2011-2016?

It doesn’t take any fancy math or statistics to figure out that overall tobacco use among high school students must have declined substantially from 2011 to 2016. Since youth cigarette use dropped by a huge amount, cigar use dropped substantially, pipe used dropped substantially, smokeless tobacco use didn’t change  much, and hookah use didn’t change much, it stands to reason that overall tobacco use went down substantially. There is no way that youth tobacco use went up or even stayed the same from 2011 to 2016 because it dropped substantially for three categories of use but didn’t change much in the other two categories.

The Rest of the Story

But that is not what the Center for Tobacco Products chose to tell the public.

Here is what the Center for Tobacco Products titled the chart:

The CTP chose to tell the public that there was no significant decline in overall tobacco use over the past 5 years. However, as I showed above, that is simply not true. Youth tobacco use declined substantially.

So how does CTP justify this dishonesty?

It plays a trick on the public. It classifies e-cigarette use as a form of tobacco use and includes e-cigarette use in the totals for overall tobacco use. Since there was a huge increase in e-cigarette use from 2011 to 2016, CTP is able to completely undermine the fact that there was a dramatic drop in youth smoking, cigar use, and pipe use by adding youth who experimented with e-cigarettes. 

This is dishonest and inaccurate because e-cigarette use is not a form of tobacco use. The truth is — and CTP knows this — that e-cigarettes do not contain tobacco. In fact, the whole point of e-cigarettes is that they are an alternative to using tobacco. 

The rest of the story is that the Center for Tobacco Products is lying to the public. This is unfortunate because it risks losing the public’s trust. It is also unfortunate because this deception could have deleterious public health effects, as misinforming people to think that e-cigarettes contain tobacco may dissuade many smokers from quitting and may even induce many ex-smokers to return to smoking. On top of all of this, it is – in my view- unethical to lie to the public, even if the aim were to discourage us from engaging in a potentially harmful behavior. I think the public deserves to know the truth. Someone has to start telling them the rest of the story. 

Note: Thanks to Clive Bates for alerting me to the deceptive headline in this dishonest communication. 

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My Testimony for Electronic Cigarette Hearing in Windham, New Hampshire

Attorney Fred Kelly Grant conducted a very nice interview with me regarding electronic cigarettes which will be submitted as testimony for an e-cigarette informational hearing in Windham, New Hampshire. Fred did a great job of asking questions that covered the gamut of important scientific and regulatory issues, so I hope this will be a good resource to provide a solid background on this issue.

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American Heart Association Still Clings to Alternative Facts: Claims that Smoking is No Safer than Vaping

Scientists like myself are often frustrated by “denialists” who refuse to acknowledge global warming, disseminate false information about adverse effects of vaccines, or – historically – failed to acknowledge the severe health effects of cigarette smoking. But I never expected this denialism to be coming from within my own movement in public health.

Today, it appears that the American Heart Association is still taking a public denialist stance with regards to the health benefits of quitting smoking by switching to vaping. Despite overwhelming scientific evidence that vaping is much safer than smoking and that quitting smoking by switching to electronic cigarettes has dramatic and immediate health benefits, the American Heart Association is still clinging to the false message that smoking may be no safer than vaping.

According to an article appearing today in The Daily Mail:

“Dr Aruni Bhatnagar, director of the American Heart Association’s Tobacco Research and Addiction Center, added: ‘We just don’t know if moving to e-cigarettes is good enough to reduce the harm.'”

As the Daily Mail is not necessarily a trustworthy source (note the headline that a single e-cigarette can potentially lead to a heart attack), I confirmed this quote with other sources. The same quote appeared in the San Diego Union-Tribune two weeks ago. It seems clear that the American Heart Association, through its Tobacco Research and Addiction Center, is still clinging to the belief that smoking may be no more hazardous than vaping. Furthermore, the American Heart Association is disseminating this false information to the public.

The Rest of the Story

The American Heart Association’s claim that quitting smoking by switching to electronic cigarettes does not reduce the harm of cigarette smoking flies in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence that switching from smoking to vaping leads to an immediate improvement in respiratory symptoms and improves lung function. Improvement in spirometry measurements was observed even in dual users, but was most substantial in smokers who switched completely to e-cigarettes. Remarkably, respiratory symptoms improved in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) who switched to electronic cigarettes.

In addition to improving respiratory health, e-cigarettes also lower carcinogenic risk compared to smoking, as they deliver many fewer and much lower levels of carcinogens. 
The American Heart Association’s claim is not only false, but it is potentially damaging. If smokers believe this false information, they may decide that there is no reason to quit smoking using e-cigarettes. Or, even worse, ex-smokers who quit using e-cigarettes may return to smoking. After all, if it is not clear that vaping reduces harm compared to smoking, then what’s the point of vaping? You might as well enjoy the real thing.
I’m surprised that cigarette companies haven’t jumped on the opportunity to use the American Heart Association’s endorsement of smoking:
“We at Philip Morris believe the public should heed the advice of respected public health organizations. According to the American Heart Association, we just don’t know if quitting smoking by switching to e-cigarettes reduces the harm. So if you’re thinking of trying to quit smoking by switching to vaping, don’t bother. There’s no certainty that it will reduce your health risks. But it will certainly decrease your enjoyment of the tobacco smoking experience.”

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NYC’s Anti-tobacco and -vaping package passed – Update and Digest

Update – 08.11.17

On Wednesday, August 9th, The New York City Council voted to pass a package of anti-tobacco and anti-vaping ordinances. Please see the table below for a digest of each law that was passed and their effective dates.

– §3. (Effective following enactment) No pharmacies can apply for a new dealer’s license. Renewals will only be valid until Dec. 31, 2018.

Int. No 1547-A

– Prohibits pharmacies from obtaining an electronic cigarette retail dealer license.

– Establishes a 90-day period that begins when the law is enacted in which existing vapor retailers are able to apply for a new license. After this 90-day period, no new licenses will be issued.

– (Effective Immediately) The commissioner of consumer affairs must publicize the 90-day application period to maximize awareness.

– Establishes biennial licensing fee of $200

– Establishes a community district electronic cigarette retail dealer cap. This cap will be set at HALF the number of licenses issued during the 120-day period following the expiration of the 90-day application period.

– Electronic retail dealer licenses are allowed to be sold but are only valid for the property that was originally licensed. Effectively, these licenses are non-transferrable.

– Establishes financial penalties for violations (Effective date: See Int. No 1544-B)

– Establishes penalties for violation and grounds for revoking licenses.

after becoming law

(see exceptions in description)

– Expands the existing cigarette licenses to include OTP henceforth referred to as “tobacco dealer license.”

– Raises the price floor for cigarettes from $10.50 to $13.00.

– §17 Establishes minimum package sizes for cigarettes and OTP.

– §18 Prohibits delivery of cigarettes, OTP, and e-cigarettes by foot, bicycle, or any motor vehicle outside of a retail dealer’s place of business.

after becoming law

after becoming law


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Bill Number Description Effective Date
Int. No 0484-A – Prohibits smoking and vaping in the common areas of ALL multiple dwellings. Existing law limits this prohibition to buildings containing more than ten dwelling units. 180 days

after becoming law

Int. No 1131-B – Prohibits the sale of Tobacco and Vapor products in pharmacies. Jan-01-2019
Int. No 1471-A – Increases biennial retail cigarette dealer license fee from $110 to $200. See effective dates for
Int. No 1532-A – (Effective 360 days after becoming law) Requires anyone selling electronic cigarettes to have an electronic cigarette retail dealer license for EACH place of business where e-cigarettes are sold. 150 days
Int. No 1544-B – §3 Establishes price floors and taxes for other tobacco products (OTP). This includes a price floor for low-risk products like American moist snuff and Swedish snus which is set at $8.00. (please see the table on page 6 of the bill for more details) The first day of the calendar month next following the 270th day after it becomes law, provided that subdivision b of §17-704.1 of the administrative code of the city of New York, as added by §18 of this local law, takes effect 150 days after it becomes law.
Int. No 1547-A – §10, subdivision e directs the commissioner of finance to establish a community district retail dealer cap for each community district in the city. This cap will be set at HALF the total number of licenses issued excluding retail dealer licenses issued to pharmacies. 180 days
Int. No 1585-A – Requires owners of co-ops and condominiums to adopt and disclose smoking policies. 365 days