Alexandria, MN – Take action to stop a vaping ban!

An ordinance that would ban vaping in the same places where smoking is prohibited is being considered by Alexandria’s city council. The city council will hold a public hearing and possibly take action on this ordinance on

Monday, October 23, 2017

7:00 PM

704 Broadway – Council Chambers

Alexandria, MN 56308

Please make plans to attend this hearing. Even if you do not plan to speak, your presence is important as it demonstrates the large numbers of people who are affected by this issue.

In advance of the hearing, please take a moment to contact city council members and urge them to oppose this regulation.

Take action – Send a Message

Health organizations in the UK have demonstrated bold leadership by recommending that governments NOT enact sweeping bans on where vapor products can be used. Instead, given the low risk these products pose to users and practically no risk to bystanders, private businesses should be in control of setting their own vaping policies.

(Letter to Alexandria tobacco retailers)

(Link to proposed ordinance)

(Link to October 23rd agenda)


Not a resident of Alexandria? Text CASAA MINN to 52886 to see Minnesota alerts in your area. Be sure to sign up to monitor activities in your town through the “Adopt a City/County” form here.

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My Response to an Invitation to Consult for the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World

Below is my response to an invitation to consult for the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World, funded by Philip Morris International:

Unfortunately, I will not be able to consult or play any advisory role on this project. Since Philip Morris International (PMI) continues to aggressively market cigarettes internationally and to aggressively fight public health efforts to reduce tobacco use, this is just not a project that I can participate in as a public health practitioner. PMI cannot be sincere in its intention to establish a smoke-free world when it continues to aggressively lobby against public health efforts to reduce tobacco use.

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Lindenhurst, NY – Local Alert – Take action to stop a vape shop ban!

The Lindenhurst Village Board is considering a zoning ordinance that would ban vapor shops and hookah lounges. A public hearing will be held on

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

2:30 PM

Village Hall

430 S. Wellwood Ave.

Lindenhurst NY 11757

Please make plans to attend this hearing. Even if you do not plan to speak, your presence is important as it demonstrates the large numbers of people affected by this issue.

In advance of the hearing, please take a moment to send a message to Village Board members urging them to reject this proposal.

Take Action – Send a Message

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CASAA Submits Comment in Support of MRTP Application for IQOS

On September 14th, CASAA submitted a comment in support of PMI’s Modified Risk Tobacco Product (MRTP) application for their “heat not burn” product, IQOS.

“…there is no doubt that this technology will benefit the health of the population as a whole. IQOS clearly appeals to a significant segment of the smoking population, as illustrated by the fact that more than 3 million smokers worldwide thus far have switched to IQOS.”

The docket for this application will be open for comments from the public until December 12, 2017.

CASAA’s full comment is available here.

If approved, PMI would be allowed to market their IQOS products with the following, truthful claims:

  • IQOS system heats tobacco but does not burn it.
  • This significantly reduces the production of harmful and potentially harmful chemicals.
  • Scientific studies have shown that switching completely from cigarettes to the IQOS system can reduce the risks of tobacco-related diseases.
  • Switching completely to IQOS presents less risk of harm than continuing to smoke cigarettes.
  • Switching completely from cigarettes to the IQOS system significantly reduces your body’s exposure to harmful and potentially harmful chemicals.

Since being granted regulatory authority over tobacco products in 2009, the FDA has not approved a single MRTP application. In 2014, snus maker Swedish Match submitted a lengthy MRTP application asking to remove specific warning statements from ten of its snus products. In 2016, FDA responded by deferring its decision and is reportedly working with Swedish Match on a path forward. You can read CASAA’s comment here and our review of FDA’s decision here.

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Starkville, MS – Stop an Indoor Vaping Ban! (Update)

(Update – 09.20.17)

Last night, a small handful of advocates and business owners were able to mobilize on short notice and speak in opposition to Starkville’s proposed ordinance to treat vaping like smoking. The debate among city aldermen focused on which version of the ordinance they should move forward with–one criminalizes possession for <21, and the other does not.

No decision was made and a second hearing is expected in October.

We will update this post as information becomes available. In the meantime, THANK YOU to everyone who responded to this alert and a special THANK YOU to those who were able to attend the meeting.

(Original Post – 09.19.17)

The Starkville City council will have the first public hearing for an amendment that would add vaping to the city’s indoor smoking ban tonight

TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 19, 2017

5:30 P.M.

COURTROOM

CITY HALL 110 WEST MAIN STREET

The proposed ordinance is item “C” under the public hearing section of the agenda.

Please make plans to attend this hearing and make your voices heard.

You can refer to our suggested talking points on this issue to help craft your comment (see below or click here)

Even if you do not plan to speak, your presence is important as it demonstrates the numbers of people who are affected by this issue. Please be polite but passionate about your comment and respect the decorum of the hearing room.

Contact information for City Aldermen

Staff
Name Title Email Phone
Carver, Ben Alderman, Ward 1 b.carver@cityofstarkville.org (662) 769-0792
Sistrunk, Sandra C. Alderman, Ward 2 s.sistrunk@cityofstarkville.org 662-418-4574
Little, David Alderman, Ward 3 d.little@cityofstarkville.org 662 418-9918
Walker, Jason Alderman, Ward 4 j.walker@cityofstarkville.org 662 617-0130
Miller, Patrick Alderman, Ward 5 p.miller@cityofstarkville.org (662) 418-8978
Perkins, Roy A’. Vice-Mayor; Alderman, Ward 6 royaperkins@hotmail.com (662) 324-7300
Vaughn, Sr., Henry N. Alderman, Ward 7 h.vaughn@cityofstarkville.org 662-769-5049; 662-323-2400

Comma delimited email list:

b.carver@cityofstarkville.org, s.sistrunk@cityofstarkville.org, d.little@cityofstarkville.org, j.walker@cityofstarkville.org, p.miller@cityofstarkville.org, royaperkins@hotmail.com, h.vaughn@cityofstarkville.org

(Did you find this post helpful? Help us continue working to keep vaping accessible to the people who need it the most! Please donate to CASAA!)

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Suggested Talking Points – Place Ban

  • (Please choose a few of the points below — topics you are most comfortable discussing.)
  1. You are a resident and you oppose banning e-cigarette use where smoking is prohibited. (If you are responding to a Call to Action or Local Alert for a city or state in which you are not a resident, please mention any connection you have to the area, for example, you travel there on vacation or have friends/family in the area.)
  1. Other governments are taking exactly the opposite approach; Public Health England (the government public health agency) and The Royal College of Physicians (a 500 year old association of 32,000 medical professionals in the UK) recently explicitly endorsed a policy of encouraging smokers to switch to e-cigarettes and vapor products (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/e-cigarettes-an-evidence-update) (https://www.rcplondon.ac.uk/projects/outputs/nicotine-without-smoke-tobacco-harm-reduction-0).
  1. Tell your story on how switching to an e-cigarette has changed your life. (Avoid using slang terms such as “juice.”)
  1. Clarify that:
    1. Smoking bans are ostensibly enacted to protect the public from the harm of secondhand smoke, but e-cigarettes have not been found to pose a risk to bystanders. In fact, all evidence to date shows that the low health risks associated with e-cigarettes are comparable to other smokeless nicotine products.
    2. The low risks of e-cigarettes is supported by research done by Dr. Siegel of Boston University, Dr. Eissenberg of Virginia Commonwealth, Dr Maciej L Goniewicz of the Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Dr. Laugesen of Health New Zealand, Dr. Igor Burstyn of Drexel University, and by the fact that the FDA testing, in spite of its press statement, failed to find harmful levels of carcinogens or toxic levels of any chemical in the vapor.
    3. A comprehensive review conducted by Dr. Igor Burstyn of Drexel University School of Public Health based on over 9,000 observations of e-cigarette liquid and vapor found “no apparent concern” for bystanders exposed to e-cigarette vapor, even under “worst case” assumptions about exposure.
    4. Electronic cigarette use is easy to distinguish from actual smoking. Although some e-cigarettes resemble real cigarettes, many do not. It is easy to tell when someone lights a cigarette from the smell of smoke. E-cigarette vapor is often practically odorless, and generally any detectable odor is not unpleasant and smells nothing like smoke. Additionally, e-cigarette users can decide whether to release any vapor (“discreet vaping”).  With so little evidence of use, enforcing use bans on electronic cigarettes would be nearly impossible.
    5. The ability to use electronic cigarettes in public spaces will actually improve public health by inspiring other smokers to switch and reduce their health risks by an estimated 99%.
    6. Losing the ability to test e-liquids before purchasing will have a significant and negative impact on your ability to purchase/sell e-liquids.
    7. Many smokers first try e-cigarettes because they can use them where they cannot smoke, however, they often become “accidental quitters.” This is a documented phenomenon unique to e-cigarettes. It may take a few months or only a few days, but they inevitably stop smoking conventional cigarettes. This is why including e-cigarettes in smoking bans could have serious unintended consequences!
    8. By making e-cigarette users go outdoors, the City will also be sending a strong message to traditional smokers that e-cigarettes are no safer than smoking. This will actually maintain the number of smokers, rather than help reduce smoking. This is a far more realistic risk to public health than any unfounded concerns about possible youth or non-smoker use uptake. In fact, the most recent report by the CDC showed that the dramatic increase in e-cigarette use over that past 3 years has not led to an increase in youth smoking. Youth smoking of traditional cigarettes continues to decline to record low levels.
    9. The children of smoking parents are far more likely to become smokers than the children of non-smoking parents who see smoking behaviors in public. The children of smoking parents who quit aren’t any more likely to smoke than those of non-smoking parents. Prohibiting vapor products in public does little to protect the children of non-smoking parents from becoming smokers, but significantly increases the likelihood that many smoking parents won’t switch to e-cigarettes. This only serves to keep the highest-risk children at risk.
    10. E-cigarette use does not promote the smoking of traditional cigarettes, nor does it threaten the gains of tobacco control over the past few decades. In fact, by normalizing e-cigarette use over traditional smoking, the efforts of tobacco control are being supported. If anything, e-cigarette use denormalizes conventional smoking by setting the example of smokers choosing a far less harmful alternative to traditional smoking. The CDC surveys clearly show that there has been no “gateway effect” causing non-smokers to start smoking. As e-cigarettes have become more popular, all available evidence is showing that more and more smokers are quitting traditional cigarettes, including youth smokers.
    11. Important Note: A typical and frequent lawmaker response to e-cigarette users who object to public use bans is “We aren’t banning all use or sales, just use where smoking is also prohibited.” Don’t give them the opportunity to counter you in that way! Make it very clear that you understand that this is not a ban of e-cigarette sales or a ban of e-cigarette use where smoking is allowed. But, what IS being proposed is still a step backward in public health, not a step forward.

5) Direct them to the CASAA.org website, as well as the CASAA Research Library, for more information.

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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.

Governor
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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