House Will Vote Feb. 27th on a Nationwide Flavor Ban

House Will Vote Feb. 27th on a Nationwide Flavor Ban

A bill that would ban flavored vaping products and online sales in all 50 states will come to the House floor for a vote on Thursday, Feb. 27. House bill HR 2339—the Reversing the Youth Tobacco Epidemic Act— was introduced almost a year ago by Democratic representatives Frank Pallone of New Jersey and Donna Shalala of Florida.

When Vaping360 described HR 2339 last April, we called it “a bill designed to destroy the vaping industry.” While it would leave some vapor products made by tobacco companies and JUUL on convenience stores shelves, very few independent vaping businesses will be able to survive if the bill becomes law. It is hard to overstate how devastating it would be.

The bill includes a variety of provisions that will affect vapers, including:

  • FLAVOR BAN Prohibits products containing “characterizing flavors” other than tobacco—unless they are specifically approved by the FDA and are proven to “significantly increase the likelihood of smoking cessation”
  • ONLINE SALES BAN Prohibits all non-face to face sales
  • FDA USER FEES Gives the FDA authority to collect $100 million in user fees from the vaping industry annually, which will increase prices
  • SYNTHETIC NICOTINE REGULATIONS Orders FDA to regulate products containing synthetic nicotine
  • ADVERTISING RESTRICTIONS Extends all FDA rules on the sales and marketing of cigarettes to vaping products, including advertising restrictions

The bill has 126 co-sponsors (members who have already indicated support). To pass the House, a bill needs 218 votes. Most observers expect HR 2339 to pass and move on to the Senate. That makes this bill a perfect test of vapers’ political strength.

With a huge last-minute push, the Pallone bill can be stopped. If every member of the House got a thousand emails from constituents opposing the bill, it would be stopped. Can vapers organize quickly enough to convince a half-million people to participate in the call to action over the next four days? If every vaper who takes the time to get involved convinces 10 other people to send emails to their reps, it can happen.

Before reading further, please act immediately to tell your House member to oppose HR 2339. The CASAA call to action linked below will send an email to your representative, and also to your Senators and the President. Just as important, please recruit family and friends to act—and share the information on social media, and at vape shops. The link is easy to remember: august8th.org

What is HR 2339 intended to do, and what will it do?

The sponsors of the bill believe that prohibition will prevent teenagers from vaping. Blinded by the dogma of anti-tobacco activists, they are ignoring real-world evidence that no drug prohibition has ever worked. Bans lead to black markets, which allow products of uncertain quality to proliferate.

Aside from the prohibition of flavored vaping products, HR 2339’s ban on menthol cigarettes will lead to large-scale smuggling by organized crime syndicates. No elected official who supports drug policy reform and opposes drug war-style enforcement should support such a bill. However, many of the co-sponsors claim to be progressive on drug policy.

“Congress must act to reduce youth nicotine addiction by making it clear that selling tobacco products to kids is illegal,” Rep. Pallone said last year. “My legislation also treats e-cigarettes and other tobacco products the same as traditional cigarettes under the law.”

The ban on menthol cigarettes doesn’t take effect until a year after the law is passed, but the ban on flavored vapes would be imposed in just 30 days. That would force thousands of vape shops to shut their doors with millions of bottles of e-liquid still in their inventories.

"Without our participation, the strident voices of the anti-vaping activists will win the day."

 

Congress passed a law prohibiting sales of vapes and tobacco to anyone under 21 in December. It’s unclear how moving the sales of flavored products to an unregulated black market would decrease youth use further. If anything, access to such products will probably increase, since illegal sellers are likely to ignore age-to-purchase laws. Further, National Youth Tobacco Survey data from last year proves that flavors aren’t a major reason kids choose to vape. Most do it out of curiosity—and nothing makes teenagers more curious than making a legal product into illegal taboo.

The vast majority of adult vapers prefer non-tobacco flavors, and there is no reason to believe they will obey an unjust law banning sales of the products they prefer. E-liquid is simple to make, and vapers will have access to a broad underground market of products made and sold by out-of-work e-liquid manufacturers. Hardware will remain available, since Chinese retailers will likely ignore an online sales ban. There is almost no kind of product used by vapers that can’t be manufactured by someone in their basement with very little investment, or imported with little trouble.

Current legal sales channels—vape shops and online sellers—depend on offering a wide variety of products. It’s difficult to envision many vape shops staying afloat selling only the few products that would be legal if HR 2339 becomes law. E-liquid is the primary sales and profit driver in vape shops. Aside from the black market, many vapers will turn to DIY e-liquid if their preferred flavors are banned.

Just call it “the Bloomberg flavor ban“

Billionaire Michael Bloomberg, now a Democratic presidential candidate, launched an anti-vaping initiative last September with the goals of banning flavored vaping products, pushing the FDA to impose PMTA requirements quickly, and banning or restricting online sales. The program, called “Protect Kids: Fight Flavored E-Cigarettes,” included a $160 million fund administered by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

“When it comes to individuals who have committed their lives to protecting kids from the dangers of tobacco products, Michael Bloomberg is second to none,” said Tobacco-Free Kids president Matthew Myers at the launch of the initiative. “We are deeply honored to partner with Bloomberg Philanthropies on this initiative.”

The Bloomberg funding has been used by Myers and Tobacco-Free Kids to create and support a formidable network of organizations, websites, online and broadcast advertising, lobbying, school programs, and planted editorial and news content. Their efforts are backed by the usual array of large tobacco control groups, including American Academy of Pediatrics, American Cancer Society, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, the CDC Foundation, Truth Initiative, CVS Health, and every organization funded by or aligned with Bloomberg Philanthropies.

"Whatever any member of Congress thinks about vaping, dealing with a large number of angry constituents is something none of them want."

The only effective way to beat such a powerful and well-organized propaganda juggernaut is with unrelenting grassroots opposition. If hundreds of thousands of vapers—and vapers’ family members, friends, and employers—take five minutes to engage through the call to action, members of Congress will be forced to pay attention.

If vapers cannot mobilize to fight this threat, the bill is likely to pass and move to the Senate. In the current anti-vaping atmosphere, it isn’t certain what will happen there. There is already an active Senate bill (which has already passed the House) that would eliminate U.S. Mail shipping of vaping products. It has 27 committed votes already, including 14 Republicans, and only needs 51 votes to pass.

Vapers have no help on this. The tobacco companies and JUUL no longer sell flavors, and they don’t care about protecting online sales. Altria and RJ Reynolds will agree to anything to get House leaders to drop the menthol cigarette ban from the final bill.

At this point, there is no substitute for massive numbers of emails and phone calls to every congressional office. Whatever any member of Congress thinks about vaping, dealing with a large number of angry constituents is something none of them want. It’s up to those with the most at stake—vapers and vaping businesses—to push legislators in the right direction. Without our participation, the strident voices of the anti-vaping activists will win the day.

Article Provided By:
Article Author: Jim McDonald
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Comments

Chris - February 28, 2020

I have already contacted my representatives, including the president. This bill effectively hands vaping to big tobacco and forces us to yet again line their pockets with no idea what goes in their product…except for those of us who DIY and use the black market. Has anyone seen or bought the #WeVapeWeVote shirt? WEAR it. Trump has already done a 180 on a federal flavor ban over pressure and WILL veto this bill. He would be flip flopping to do otherwise. In 2016 he won a multitude of states by 50 thousand votes or less, states with vaping registered voters in the 6 figures. THAT is a simple math problem….and I don’t think he will risk re-election over this. The jobs president killing an entire industry and tens of thousands of jobs in an election year? No way. WE are his -re-election, or his exit from office…and we need to shout it to the rooftops.

Eliot Watts - February 25, 2020

They are already blocking online sales to my state. This is attempting to become ridiculous and needs to stop. A lot of us vape because it helped us quit smoking. I have already dropped from 18mg down to 3mg with my liquid and even have been mixing in 0mg here and there. They need to stop all this banning stuff. I hope they understand A LOT of us will turn to other methods to get our liquid. Another reason this country is in debt. They have not learned to make money on things people like.

Pete - February 25, 2020

Fortunately, no bill passed by the House, regardless of its merit or lack thereof, will ever escape the desk of the “Grim Reaper”, Mitch McConnell. None have and none will. So this bill is a dead man walking and, once passed, will join the 400+ other bills addressing prescription drug costs, the opioid epidemic, minimum wages, health care and all the other issues that sit languishing in McConnell’s legislative abattoir.

Only after hysterically fearful vapers help to turn the House over to the republicans will this bill, or any other bill, pass. It is important for R’s to ensure that RJR, etc. gives THEM, not D’s the credit for killing vaping. So as long as the D’s control the House, they can scream to high heaven about vaping, but no national law will ever pass.

Ironically, if you turn Congress over to the R’s, as vapers everywhere are being encouraged to do, you will finally see real action on this anti-vaping crusade. So the best course of action is to leave a divided Congress because then no matter who is president, nothing will ever get passed no matter what.

Remember, D’s may be the pawns of the health Nazis, but R’s are the pawns of big business, specifically big tobacco, whose pockets they’ve occupied since forever. Especially R’s from tobacco-land, like McConnell.

So fear and misplaced blame over this issue has the potential to increase republican support or diminish Democratic support, thereby dooming the world to 4 more years of extra-virulent Trumpism and all the environmental degradation, institutional sabotage, internal strife, corruption, graft, income inequality, incompetence, pettiness, vindictiveness, mendacity, nepotism, self-dealing and international humiliation that Senate invertebrates, being more fearful of a trump tweet than the destruction of their own country, lack the balls to control.

So, we’re screwed either way. We get a flavor ban or we get 4 more years of political insanity, authoritarian leadership, neo-fascism and slow national suicide PLUS a flavor ban as soon as R’s can take credit for it with their BT and BP sponsors.

Vaping saved my health and probably my life. I even ran a small e-cig website back in 2012-13, before big money drowned me out and I lost my life savings. That’s how much of an evangelist for vaping I am.

But this is not a difficult decision. I will not actively oppose a national flavor ban, a ban, BTW that’s nearly identical to the one set to pass my own DEEP RED state’s legislature, lest you think this idiocy is solely a Democratic phenomenon.

In truth, R’s are no better on this issue than D’s are. The only difference is their motivation. D’s are hysterical and ignorant, opposing vaping for mythological health reasons. R’s are greedy and ignorant, taking their anti-vaping positions from their BT and BP corporate sponsors.

I have already stocked up on mechanical mods and a good selection of non-mechanical mods. I will simply go back to DIY e-liquids. If they ban nicotine solutions or impose outlandish taxes on them, I will order a lifetime supply (I’m old) of 999.9mg nicotine direct from China. If it gets stopped in customs, I’ll do it again. Same with any needed equipment.

I hate to have to do this, but after much soul searching I’ve decided that I cannot be so selfish as to let my enthusiasm and support of vaping persuade me to support the most destructive, corrupt and dangerously insane regime or the most spineless Senate this country has ever seen or will ever again survive.

I’ll gladly risk being jailed for smuggling vape products before I betray my country or my own conscience like that.

So let them have their flavor ban. In 20 years, it’ll be recognized for being as stupid and counterproductive as any other drug war is. The tragedy is that all those out of work vape shop people will be the victims of the very politicians their misplaced blame and their fear of a ban led them to support. And I’ll be dead already.

I hope vapers everywhere remember that when the economy is wrecked, the purge of experts and non-loyalists is done and the gov’t is totally dysfunctional and incompetent, the new R administration, who they installed to prevent a flavor ban, will tell them tough luck. Altria and RJR want a flavor ban, so you can go pound salt or find a $8/hr job selling Juul in a Circle K.

Only then will they realize they did this to themselves.

Rondall D Short - February 24, 2020

These actions by elected officials will be remembered by we, your constitutes, for many elections to come. Flavors don’t draw youth to vaping, this has been proven. Forcing Big Governments will on a poulace doesn’t work; remember prohibition. It’d be wise not to step upon capers rights, and let the youth of this country be governed by the correct people- their parents.

Eric Owens - February 24, 2020

You got to love how misinformed our government is. I’m sure it doesn’t help matters when you got good ol big tobacco handing out checks to every CO sponsor.

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