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If you are or know an Arkansas vapor


#1

An Arkansas bill, SB 347 would impose a 16% wholesale tax on vapor products. It is scheduled for a hearing on

Wednesday, February 20, 2019
10:00 AM
OSC, State Capitol
Little Rock, Arkansas

CASAA has also learned that a lobbying effort is underway to put a 7.5c/mL tax on bottled e-liquid.
Please if you are in Arkansas or know anyone in Arkansas send them here:

CASAA will send your letter to your congressman for you, you can use their letter or write your own; or as I did, add your words to their letter. Here is a copy of mine.
To: Senator John Cooper (via email)
Date: 2/19/2019 9:48 PM
Subject: People who smoke need affordable alternatives

Dear Senator Cooper,

I smoked for 35 years and tried many times to quit. I tried patches, gum, cold turkey, and even tried Chantix. Nothing really helped until I tried an electronic cigarette in 2014. I have not had a cigarette since. I am also now NICOTINE FREE. I owe my life to this device, and I’m not just trying to sound dramatic. Imposing a tax on a life saving device is just wrong. I am writing as a voter and taxpayer urging you to reject the tax on e-cigarettes that would be imposed by SB 347. This extra tax on vaping is unjustifiable and would negatively affect my access to low-risk, smoke-free products. It does not make sense that Arkansas would want to make it more difficult for people who smoke to switch to demonstrably safer alternatives to cigarettes. Subjecting smoke-free vapor products to a sin tax is punitive and grossly inappropriate. Ultimately, this new tax would raise costs on consumers like me, discourage people who smoke from switching An interim committee previously recommended an alternative tax of 7.5 cents per ml, which I also strongly oppose. Stores throughout Arkansas sell nicotine and nicotine-free e-liquids in bottles that are 30, 60, and 120 ml large. A per ml tax will harm local small businesses and enrich out-of-state companies that sell pre filled products in small cartridges. This unnecessary tax would actually protect sales of traditional cigarettes and encourage people who smoke to continue smoking. This is counter to modern advice from The Royal College of Physicians (a 500-year old professional organization which is one of the most respected in the world) which recently recommended promoting vapor products widely to smokers as an alternative to combusted cigarettes. I along with my fellow members of The Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association (CASAA) urge you to resist calls for increased taxes and overregulation from misguided activists that seek to impede adult access to far less hazardous alternatives to smoking. I look forward to your response on this issue and I am available for any questions you might have.

Sincerely,


#2

I always think that the cigar industry, a centennial lobby, encourages and supports all kinds of pressure on the steam.
Here in Brazil they banned the electronic cigarette.
In the reasons for the ban was the lack of “conclusive” data that would NOT hurt.
I made a petition proposing a ban on burned cigarettes in the same way …
This idea sounds as irrational to many as the ban on electronic cigarette for me.
suggest there in Arkansas to double the cigarette tax since they are proven to be more deadly.
Forgive an irrational and indignant outburst.
Anyway, we have to protest!


#3

Good for you

Yes we do


#4

I received a reply from Senator Cooper today. And not just a premade form letter. Just one simple question.

“Do you still use an e-cigarette?”

Here is my reply.

Dear Senator Cooper:

Thank you for responding to my letter (via email). Your question gives me hope that you have not passed judgement, or committed to a preconceived notion on the efficacy of vaping as a viable alternative to smoking. Let me point out that I understand that vaping is a controversial subject, and that there is a lot of misinformation to be had on both sides of the debate. Let me be clear, I support any legislation that keeps ENDS products out of the hands of minors. However, making these products less accessable to smokers who are looking for an alternative to smoking or seeking a means to smoking cessation is a dreadful mistake.

More and more, research is starting to paint a positive aspect to the use of e-cigarettes for this purpose. I continue to use a vaping product even though I no longer use nicotine. I enjoy the flavors and still purchase e-liquid, though in much lower quantity. I no longer feel compelled to however, and do not crave or experience the effects of withdrawal when I do go without. Please don’t allow a harm reducing device to become less attractive to a smoker because of cost. Approximately 480,000 people will die from tobacco related illnesses this year. Maybe the most effective product to possibly curtail that number is now being attacked in too many ways and for too many reasons.

Thank you for listening to my story and giving me the opportunity to express my views.

Sincerely,


#5

My initial fears have been confirmed. Here is Senator Cooper’s response:

Charles

You correct that much more information is coming out about vaping. Unfortunately, it is almost all bad and shows the huge growing health risks that are associated with its use.

The only positive aspect is in those relative few cases where it is actually used as a step down therapy to actually quit smoking cigarettes. It is not a substitute from a high risk habit to a no risk habit, but one of a high risk habit to another high risk activity to get off a smoking addiction. If it is just a substitute of one habit for another one, virtually nothing is gained, and perhaps something is even lost.

The facts are becoming very clear that vaping and e-cigarettes constitute a very high threat to the future of public health.

  1. The nicotine in the vaping delivery systems are a multiple of several times stronger than the delivery of traditional cigarette smoking.

  2. There are also other very harmful chemicals delivered into the lungs besides nicotine.

  3. The molecule of the products delivered into the lungs through the vaping systems is smaller than traditional smoking, thereby delivering the harmful chemicals deeper into the lungs.

  4. The same companies that messaged the public in false advertising for years is purchasing the vaping companies and mimicking the same advertising campaigns as they did with traditional cigarettes. Much of this is directed at young people to attempt to make them believe that they are engaging in a risk less practice. These same young minds are not fully mature yet and are more subject to addiction by these substances.

  5. Perhaps you should consider the obvious when you say that you don’t crave cigarettes now. Of course not, you are using a nicotine delivery system that is delivering even more nicotine into your system than before. Try to quit cold turkey right now, and see if you don’t still crave it. Likely, you will. If you don’t, then wonderful, that is a good spot for you to quit all of it for the sake of your future health.

Recently, I saw someone wearing a disgusting t-shirt that said, VAPING, A HEALTHFUL ACTIVITY.

Nothing could be farther from the truth and extremely irresponsible. I would hope that for the sake of your health, that you would quit both.

Sincerely,

Senator John Cooper


#6

Ignorance at its best I wonder who got in his ear and answered that for him - boils my blood.

I would like to know the harmful chemicals.

Evidently, he conveniently missed


#7

Well…don’t move to Illinois! Today the new governor proposed a 36% similar tax.


#8

As expected, the usual ambiguity and political double-speak… :nauseated_face:

Yeah. Nice spin on “The tobacco industry (Altria, RJ Reynolds, Philip Morris, etc) is continuing to try and buy up/into the new market stage by stage, segment by segment.”

Be it patents, recipes, formulas, etc.

Fine example of clueless and a paid pawn in the war.


#9

The previous legislation that actually predates the FDA’s was walked through both chambers and committees by lobbyist employed by RJ Reynolds. It went through in a record breaking 2 weeks as an emergency measure. The emergency designation was removed the day it was sent to the governor who signed it immediately. The bill in question here says it is to raise money for cancer research, however it actually contains favors in this bill for Big Tobacco. For one The bill pre-empts new county, city or other local restrictions on the manufacture, sale, storage or distribution of tobacco products. Big Tobacco is trying to speed approval of a “modified risk product” by the FDA. It generates smokeless nicotine. The tobacco companies contend it’s less harmful. This bill sets the stage for it to be deemed as the safer alternative and to qualify for a lower tax rate.


#10

Well, I tried to sleep it off, but the more I thought about it the madder I got. So I responded, Lord forgive me.

Here it is

John,

I must respectfully disagree with everything you said in your last communication. You state that the information coming out is almost all bad. As a well educated man with a background in research, I can tell you the statement is erroneous. You cited no sources, I however, would be happy to compile a list of recent publications in credible journals and from major university’s and research groups that state quite the opposite.

You said “It is not a substitute from a high risk habit”. I believe referring to the addiction of smoking as a habit shows a clear indication of a lack of understanding of the implications under discusxsion.

Senator, the nicotine in an ENDS product is not “stronger” than the nicotine in a cigarette. A user of either has the ability to control his or her intake.

You stated that there are other chemicals in vapor besides nicotine. This from the National Cancer Institute (.gov): Of the more than 7,000 chemicals in tobacco smoke, at least 250 are known to be harmful, including hydrogen cyanide, carbon monoxide, and ammonia (1, 2, 5). Among the 250 known harmful chemicals in tobacco smoke, at least 69 can cause cancer.

The molecule of the products delivered into the lungs through the vaping systems is smaller… Okay, this is chemistry. I’ve had many classes of chemistry. This is nicotine C10 H14 N2 it has a density of 1.01 g/cm cubed. Moving on.

You said “same companies that messaged the public in false advertising for years is purchasing the vaping companies and mimicking the same advertising campaigns as they did with traditional cigarettes”. Is it not true that this bill pre-empts new county, city or other local restrictions on tobacco products? I would say that’s a Big Boon for Big Tobacco.

If you can’t tell from the tone of this response I lost my respect after reading your last paragraph. You must have missed in my original communication where I said I have been off cigarettes for nearly four and a half years, and off nicotine for one. Your attempt to dismiss me as ignorant or at least gravely niave is in no way constructive to any kind of meaningful discourse.

Finally,
Charles


#11

Excellent reply @Chuck4!! Positively excellent!


#12

Thanks for your efforts Chuck. It was all well said to those who have made up their minds before they started. I live in Arkansas so I decided to control what I can control. One more liter of nic in the freezer and a big fasttech order for my hard goods this month. Its all about the money and tax revenue. Trying to reduce what they get from me.


#13

Thank you guys for the kind words. I was angry, however you never know who may end up an ally at some point in the future, and I really don’t want to alienate anyone by my words or behavior. This is why I’m not an activist. With that in mind I sent one last follow up.

Here it is:

Dear Senator Cooper,

I have been told that the fervor of my response to you may have been overzealous. I can only imagine that at some time in your past, Sue has come up to you and calmly offered that needed advice that only a spouse can do. I hope you understand that when a particular subject is near and dear to my heart I tend to wear my emotions on my sleeve. The truth be known, I voted for you and I hold to the ideology you espoused during your campaign. You said that you considered ethics reform and wasteful government spending among priorities. Plus how could I possibly vote for the liberal candidate when his party uses mouthpieces like Max Brantley who refers to the religious right as Christian Jihad.

Senator Copper the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids website shows the smoking rate of US adults at 14.0% compared to 22.3% in Arkansas. It also states that 69,000 kids now under 18 and alive in Arkansas will ultimately die prematurely from smoking. The site also shows that the annual health care costs in Arkansas directly caused by smoking equals $1.21 billion.

I mentioned to you before that I would compile a list of research projects and studies on the use of ENDS products. I reiterate that commitment if you would be willing to look upon it with an open mind. In the meantime I will leave you with the conclusion of one such project.

A Randomized Trial of E-Cigarettes versus Nicotine-Replacement Therapy

Peter Hajek, Ph.D., Anna Phillips-Waller, B.Sc., Dunja Przulj, Ph.D., Francesca Pesola, Ph.D., Katie Myers Smith, D.Psych., Natalie Bisal, M.Sc., Jinshuo Li, M.Phil., Steve Parrott, M.Sc., Peter Sasieni, Ph.D., Lynne Dawkins, Ph.D., Louise Ross, Maciej Goniewicz, Ph.D., Pharm.D., et al.

CONCLUSIONS

E-cigarettes were more effective for smoking cessation than nicotine-replacement therapy, when both products were accompanied by behavioral support. (Funded by the National Institute for Health Research and Cancer Research UK; Current Controlled Trials number, ISRCTN60477608.)


#14

I received a reply from Senator Cooper. I will paste it in. But first some clarification. It’s worse than I thought. CASSA had a couple of things wrong about the legislation. There were two competing bills for taxing e-cigarette products and using the money to establish and fund annually a cancer research program at UAMS. The first was a House bill, It had the 16% tax. It was withdrawn by author on the 20th. SB347 was then introduced on the Senate side. It doubles the money for UAMS to 10 million with any amount over going to the general budget. This bill will impose a tax on all vapor products at the same rate as tobacco which is 68%. Both sides of the isle are itching for this research program.

Also here is the reply from the make nice email.

Charles

Thanks for your email.

I am always open to any informative information. I think there may have been some misunderstanding in our exchange. I doubt we are as far apart as it may have appeared.

Please feel free to continue to communicate with me. I will look at whatever I have time to examine from my constituents. You matter to me.

Thanks so much for your concern!

Senator John Cooper


#15

OMG what an idiot


#16

Oops, I missed this one. I have a friend who manages a vape shop in Arkansas but I imagine he knew about this. I certainly hope so. I’ll run it by him. Thx


#17

I know how you feel. The bottom line though is he really isn’t interested in knowing all the facts. He’s looking at this from a completely different perspective. Money. According to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in an article titled “Tobacco-tax increase pitched” written by Michael R. Wickline dated 6/21/2018 (have to do that or people will question your numbers) Wickline sites the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration for the following numbers. The state of Arkansas “raises $165.2 million in general revenue and $5.3 million in special revenue a year, cigar and other tobacco taxes also raise $55.1 million in general revenue and $1.7 million in special revenue a year” from tax. That adds up to $227.3 million in tabacco tax revenue.

But that’s not all. In November 1998, nearly every U.S. state signed the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement, which ended years of legal battles between the states and the major tobacco companies. Under the terms of the agreement, the tobacco companies are now paying participating states more than $206 billion over a period of 25 years. Arkansas receives less than 1 percent of these payments. On April 23rd, 2018 the office of Arkansas’ Attorney General released the following news announcement: LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has secured the 2018 share of proceeds from the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) with tobacco companies. This year’s disbursement of $57,047,679.82 brings the total amount received since 2001 to fund various public health programs in Arkansas to $1,004,303,330.82.

Okay, here’s the kicker. Recent numbers show about 23% adults in Arkansas smoke (way higher than national average) and about 2.5 vape. The percentage of smokers is going down fast, the percentage of vapors is going up. As for the TMSA money, it’s going down. But even more troubling to the States (especially if they purchased tabacco bonds) payments end in 2025. Just over 5 years.

That’s right in just over 5 years big tabacco can happily dance on the graves of the 9,600,000 Americans who have died from tobacco related illness since they started making their settlement payments.