Kansas City Smoke Free Coalition Opposes Flavor Ban, Sends Letter To Committee

Updated 11-10-2020

Update: Ordinance #200937 has been held in committee until December 2nd

 

Missouri Smoke Free joins with Kansas City Smoke Free Coalition to oppose a flavor ban on all tobacco and vapor products.  On behalf of the coalition, Missouri Smoke Free submitted a letter of opposition and recommendation today,  you may read it below.

In addition, a hearing is scheduled for the morning of Tuesday November 10th. No public comment will be accepted, so we urge our membership and allies to call the committee members below today.  Please leave a polite message.  If you are a consumer that has quit smoking with a tobacco harm reduction product, please kindly let them know which product and flavor you have used to quit.

 

 

November 9, 2020

To: Kansas City Finance, Governance and Public Safety Committee
From: Kansas City Smoke Free Coalition
Re: Ordinance #200937 Prohibition on Flavored Nicotine and Tobacco
Cc:  Mayor Quinton Lucas and Kansas City Council Members
The Kansas City Smoke Free Coalition, comprised of the below organizations, strongly opposes a ban on flavored vapor products, smoke free tobacco, and nicotine alternatives.

 

  1. Missouri Smoke Free Alliance: a trade organization
  2. BRAVE advocates: a consumer group
  3. Missouri Smoke Free: an education and advocacy organization
  4. Kansas City retail store members

 The Kansas City Council should reject any attempt to remove flavors from smoke free vapor and nicotine alternative products. Numerous studies and health organizations have come to the conclusion that smoke free alternatives are orders of magnitude safer than continuing to smoke. Furthermore, The FDA has stated publicly and argued in federal court that mass removal of flavored vapor products risks sending millions of people back to smoking. The proposed flavor ban is the exact opposite of current FDA action and despite the claim that this law is intended to protect young people, it will only result in fewer adults quitting smoking and will serve to create a vibrant black market that doesn’t require identification. Kansas City Smoke Free Coalition has analyzed data for retailer compliance and so far this year retailers complied with minor sales ban laws at a rate of 95%.  We have attached data for years 2016-2020.

Given the low risks of vapor products and smoke free alternatives, there is no reason for the city to do anything to make vapor products less accessible, affordable, or attractive to adult consumers who are choosing to use a safer alternative to smoking. Make no mistake, this proposal doesn’t serve the interest of public health and should be rejected.  Should the committee move forward we request that all stakeholders are brought to the table, including both industry and consumer representatives.

Sincerely,

Aaron Todd                                                                  Ryan Metzger
VAPOR WORLD                                                         Vapur
1148 w 103rd                                                               8105 N Oak Trafficway
KANSAS CITY, MO                                                    Kansas City, MO 64118

Wayne Bush                                                                John Huck
Vapor Lab                                                                     Missouri Smoke Free Alliance
7801 N Oak Trafficway
Kansas City, Mo                                                          Adam Moll,  Missouri Smoke Free

Shannon Brown
Bistate Regional Advocates for Vaping Education

    

Freedom Matters in Missouri By Henry Martin

In Missouri we understand that the role of the government is to protect life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Some folks in Washington, however, seem to have forgotten this. Cracking down on small businesses, criminalizing harm reduction, and establishing burdensome red tape has been the M.O. of MO’s 6th congressional district representative for far too long. I am running for congress to end this farce.

As a combat veteran of Desert Shield and Desert Storm I have seen firsthand the impact of cigarette dependence on our military. The daily stress and concern for one’s life will unnerve even the strongest among us. I can remember vividly the second-hand smoke that would fill the barracks. The smoke would cloud our rooms and the smell would linger for what seemed like hours. Vape products allow soldiers an alternative to stress-induced chain-smoking. Restricting the availability of vape products to our soldiers denies them the choice of a less harmful nicotine product. Speaking from the standpoint of a non-smoker, I would have greatly preferred that my buddies in the 3rd armored division puffed apple pie vape in my room rather than their cigarettes.

When I came back home to Missouri as a non-smoker, I found that many of my friends had taken up smoking and were dependent on cigarettes. Everywhere we went, they would need a smoke break. The public areas would be filled with irritable smoke that has incredible second-hand dangers. Vaping gives these people something that allows them to quit and keeps public spaces empty of the harmful tobacco smoke so now we all can enjoy the evening.

As a father, it was my responsibility to teach my children about adult products like tobacco and alcohol. I would always tell them that certain activities were only for adults and that adult products can be extremely dangerous for children. They would ask questions and I would patiently answer them. The bond between a child and their parents is naturally strong. It is our responsibility as parents to inform our children of the dangers of adult products, and it is our responsibility as parents to monitor our children. When our children act out of line or violate the law, it is our responsibility as parents to correct their behaviors through patience, understanding, and guidance. It is absolutely not the government’s right to criminalize adult products because some people knowingly violate the laws that regulate these products. The answer to the illegal use of adult products is to strengthen American families and give parents the tools they need to guide their children.

Flavors have been present in adult products throughout my entire life. So why are flavored vaping products being suddenly criminalized? If you are over 21 years of age, the government has absolutely no business telling you what flavors you are “allowed” to vape. American adults are not children, and their representatives in D.C. should not treat them as such. Family businesses should not be raided and harassed by government bureaucrats for selling a vanilla flavored vape when the liquor store across the street is selling vanilla flavored vodka. This is a clear double standard that shows how far the empty suits in Washington will go when left unchecked. Our freedoms and liberties should be protected by congress, and our representatives in Washington should be fighting against senseless overreach. Instead, Missouri’s 6th district representative has been swept up in D.C.’s coastal consensus.

While I may not get invited to the decadent D.C. dinners and fundraisers that my opponent has frequented for 20 years, it is hard for me to imagine that cosmos and martinis are banned from the bar for containing flavors. So why do our representatives legislate with one morality, then act with another? It seems to me that those who have been in office for decades have lost touch with their districts and have grown far too cozy in what is supposed to be a public service position. Our elected officials are out of line when they preach moral panic over the flavors that adults choose to vape. This is precisely why I am running for congress once again. We must end this Washington madness and fight for the freedoms of those of us who call Missouri home.

It is time to bring common-sense back to Washington. Over the coming months I will be reaching out to Missourians to let them know that their freedoms matter, and that they deserve better from their congress. I am going to be working hard to earn the support of folks from every county across northern Missouri in the democratic primary for Missouri’s 6th U.S. house seat on August 4th, and then again for the general election on November 3rd. Together, we can stand up to the bureaucrats and empty suits infringing upon our freedoms. It is time we send someone to D.C. who understands that Missouri matters.

 

 

Rowden Bill Favors Big Tobacco in Latest Move to Squeeze Money from Small Businesses

As the legislature works to balance the budget in the final few days of session, lawmakers are setting their eyes on regulating e-cigarettes and vapor products. Recently assigned to committee, Senate Bill 1085 (Senator Caleb Rowden-R) would require vapor manufacturers to register their products with the state – after already registering with the federal government. Worse, the legislation adds a licensing fee for each and every vape product, up to $500 per product, in order to maintain the newly created state registry.

The legislation comes after a barrage of misinformation about youth e-cigarette use and unrelated marijuana vaping-related lung injuries that dominated media headlines prior to America’s COVID-19 epidemic. Lawmakers’ intentions are in the right place, but similar to other vaping proposals in other states, this legislation is another whack-a-mole attempt to solve problems that aren’t really problems at all and will have dire unintended consequences for small businesses in Missouri.

According to data from the 2019 Missouri Youth Risk Behavior Survey a large percentage of Missouri youth are not vaping. In fact, in 2019, nearly 80 percent of Missouri kids did not use an e-cigarette in the 30 days prior to being surveyed.

Lawmakers should know that regulating legal e-cigarettes and vapor products is unlikely to impact vaping-related hospitalizations as these have been overwhelmingly linked to the use of illicit products containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Often, these products are bought from black market sources and contain unknown ingredients.

In December 2019, over $1 million worth of THC vaping cartridges was seized by authorities in Cooper County. Missouri law enforcement have also seized large amounts of THC vaping cartridges in March and September of 2019.

While the proposed legislation is unlikely to address youth e-cigarette use and vaping-related lung illnesses, it will, however, snuff out thousands of small businesses in the Show-Me State and allow Big Tobacco to reign supreme with cancer causing cigarettes.

The proposed licensing fee would minimally impact large players such as JUUL. For example, JUUL offers two flavors, available in two different nicotine strengths. Under the proposed legislation, JUUL would be subject to a licensing fee of only $2,000. A small mom-and-pop manufacturer with a line of 20 flavors, all available in three different nicotine strengths, would be subject to a $30,000 licensing fee.

Missouri’s registry would be after vapor product manufacturers register their products with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), via a premarket tobacco application (PMTA). This arduous process will be time consuming and expensive. FDA estimates each PMTA will cost $330,000. It’s unseemly that conservative lawmakers would try and squeeze more money out of Missourians for a duplicate registry.

Further, there is no guarantee that the licensing fees will amount to enough funding to run the state registry. It is likely many small vapor manufacturers will be unable to afford the associated costs and close shop. Given that Missouri is required by law to have a balanced budget, the proposed legislation doesn’t add up. The obvious question is: why should Missouri pony up funds to enforce federal laws?

Senate Bill 1085 is a gift-wrapped present to Big Tobacco by conservative lawmakers and it would have devastating effects on the availability of much safer alternatives for adults. The legislation will shutter small businesses across the Show-Me State at a time when small businesses are suffering. Lawmakers should overwhelmingly reject this terrible legislation.

 

A.J. Moll, from St. Louis, heads up Missouri Smoke Free, a not-for-profit (501c4) tobacco harm reduction organization working to create a healthier Missouri.

Lindsey Stroud (lindsey@thr101.org) is the creator and manager of Tobacco Harm Reduction 101 (www.thr101.org), a website that provides analysis and insight on tobacco and vapor products.

 

Cancer Society: Smokeless Tobacco & Vaping Safer Than Smoking

The American Cancer Society Updates Policy On Smokeless Tobacco and Vaping, But Comes up Short on Legislative Recommendations.  Full report Here

In a new tobacco policy framework released June 11, 2018, The American Cancer Society recognizes that the myriad of death and disease from tobacco comes primarily from combustible tobacco.  And, the ACS recognizes that the public fails to recognize that smoke less products are safer than continuing to smoke.  The ACS writes, “ACS will provide smokers and the public with clear and accurate information available on the absolute and relative health impact of combustible tobacco products, nicotine‐based medications, ENDS and other novel tobacco products.78 In partnership with others, ACS will increase its efforts to guide smokers toward evidence‐based cessation options that enable them to quit as quickly as possible and eliminate their exposure to combustible tobacco smoke. At the same time, ACS will deliver a clear and vital message: All smokers should cease combustible tobacco use as soon as possible and ACS will aid them in achieving that goal.”  (bold text added for emphasis by MSF.)

Missouri Smoke Free believes that  it’s great that ACS has finally recognized that smokeless tobacco products are safer than smoking. However, the reality is the American Cancer Society’s lobbying arm ACS-CAN (Cancer action network) will still pursue inappropriate legislative goals in light of their new findings.  ACS states that ACS-CAN  will continue to advocate for:

  • Tobacco 21 which raises the age of all tobacco products to a purchase age of 21. We find this frustrating given that the majority of smokers start smoking before the age of 18.  Moving the purchase price of reduced harm products to 21 will delay quit attempts by young adults.
  • Indoor Smoke Free Air Acts The ACS-CAN will continue to misinform policy makers that vapor products should be lumped in with smoke free air laws. We disagree with this policy as the vapor produced by e-cigarettes warrants no concern to bystanders.  Allowing private business owners to set their own indoor vaping policy will provide an incentive to smokers wishing to transition to non combustible products.

While we applaud The American Cancer Society for publicly recognizing that smokers who cannot quit should switch to safer smoke free nicotine alternatives and smokeless tobacco,  In good faith we cannot give an endorsement based on their continued poor legislative pursuits.