Saturday, 9 March 2013

An Open Letter to the Utah State Legislature Regarding House Bill 372: (Utah Bill to Tax E-Cigarettes and Ban Online Sales)

posted 3/9/2013 by Crazypoliticos

In their latest effort to make the world a more terrible place the Utah House of Representatives stands poised to pass HB-372, which passed out of the Utah House Health and Human Services Committee on March 6, 2013. This proposed legislation seeks to tax e-cigarettes at 86% of the manufacturer's price and make purchasing e-cigarettes online or through the mail a criminal offense.

Hello Utah! Really? Let me explain. I'm a former smoker who hates cigarettes. I hate the odor. I have asthma and occasionally have a severe reaction to cigarette smoke. I detest cigarette buttes left everywhere. Smokers are not supposed to smoke in prohibited places such as bus and Trax stops. Smokers are not supposed to throw their butts everywhere. They do. They do and anyone who lives in an urban apartment building or takes public transportation knows this. They smoke inside their apartments. They drive and smoke with you in the car. Smoking is a terrible addiction that makes smokers do things they ordinarily wouldn't do.

Smoke kills! Second-hand smoke kills. Vapor doesn't. Second hand vapor doesn't.

I am disabled with internal birth defects and as a result I lived in a public housing project in downtown SLC for six years. I lived directly across the hall from a three-pack-a-day paranoid schizophrenic chain smoker who never went out to smoke and kept his windows closed except for a small crack. I lived across from him for six years! Six years! Every time he opened his door the smell was overwhelming and I would retch if I was nearby. I could smell his smoke inside my apartment as could my guests. I unsuccessfully lobbied the management of this public housing project -- which houses a large number of disabled Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security recipients -- to ban smoking inside the apartments.

I contacted the owner of the building. I called members of the State Legislature. I spoke personally with Ben McAdams (while he was a State Legislator and before he was elected to Salt Lake County Mayor) about banning smoking in apartment complexes that house state Medicaid recipients. I even contacted the LDS Church, which declined to get involved. In short, I reached out obsessively and got nowhere. Six years of constant close exposure to an insane amount of second-hand cigarette smoke and toxicity with no options passed because I was disabled and low income before I received a portable Section 8 Voucher and was able to move away from that horrid situation.

I'm no friend of nicotine. Nicotine is a bronchial constrictor and I have twitchy asthmatic lungs. I have high blood pressure. I'm a huge risk for stroke and heart disease. I quit smoking in 1997.

For the love of God will you "conservative" legislators please stand for what you believe in and show some common sense and compassion with regard to this issue? Please?

We, the non-smoking public who have been involuntarily subjected to poisoning from cigarettes; we the non-smoking victims beg you NOT to tax e-cigarettes or take any legislative action which in any way discourages transitioning smokers from cigarettes to vaporizers. And yes, I'm sure I speak for almost all of us. You are not only killing smokers with this legislation! (We know you hate them and wouldn't mind if they all died off)

You are killing vulnerable second-hand smokers!!! You will increase Medicaid costs due to the continued public toll from primary and secondary smoking. You will become passive legislative murderers. And litterers!

For the vast reasonable majority of the public blessed with a modicum of compassion and common sense please visit  this site  and send the letter available there to legislators. There is a deadline, March act now.

 Gerald Long


  1. These people live in some weird Alice down the Rabbit hole place. E-cigs have already made me healthier, I bother no one, and am transitioning easily to ZERO nicotine, preserving simply the oral habit.

    This bill is INSANE. Vaping is the BEST "smoker harm reduction" tool to come around EVER.

  2. I believe the major concerns are that there is not much in the way of medical and scientific study on the long term effects of "vaping" as well as the potential effects of "second hand vaping". We realize that the 1000+ additional carcinogens are not present, but that does not say anything about what IS still potentially harmful and still present.

    The physicians that were present and testifying in support of the bill all explained some very reasonable concerns.
    Nicotine in concentrated doses such as the cartridges, liquid refills and some Nicotine "Candies" is very harmful and potentially fatal to children. Yet these substances come in bright colors, and sweet flavors - certainly something that a child would be very intrigued by.

    Many of the nicotine products being sold through the "vap" specialty stores are not FDA approved, there is nothing to show the quality of the product, consistency and/or possible contamination.

    Several stores do not have these products stored in "safe places" per Representative Ray (bill sponsor). This statement was met with significant push back from the Vap Vendors expressing that the places you find the products not under lock and key are your every day grocery stores and convenience stores. It was very clear that they self-regulate and have no need or desire for the government to intervene in their business practices. (which I admire).

    The really strange thing- almost every representative that spoke their concerns with the bill stated they did not feel the nicotine vapor products should be classified as "Tobacco" products- they also stated that they did not feel it was appropriate to tax these products with the proposed 86% tax. YET- they pushed the bill through. WHY? It makes no sense... they openly expressed their dissatisfaction with the piece of legislation and put it through anyway. About 20 minutes later when presented with House Bill 148 and an hour of testimony- all Representatives that spoke expressed their desire to allow the adopted individuals access to their updated medical records BUT they did not put the bill through when it met opposition from one woman with a personal OPINION.

    Seriously- I don't understand the way our legislators work, what their thought process is and why they contradict what they say with what they do.

  3. Forgot to mention- when my husband tried to quit smoking he used E-cigarettes. It was amazing to spend time with him and not be negatively impacted by the horrible smell that tobacco smokers carry with them.

    I have also had moments of weakness and very strong desires to smoke again- and have used E-cigarettes instead and found that it was a great alternative. I was able to have one puff, or use it for a day- and put it down for months before I had the desire again. If I had chosen to inhale burning tobacco smoke instead- I would have instantly become a smoker again and been stuck with the inability to quit. So I personally am quite grateful for the alternative nicotine options!

  4. Looks like vested interests to me. State legislature under the control of cigarette manufacturers?

    1. anyone who reads this blog knows I don't exactly have what could be described as "a high opinion" of the Utah legislature, but considering the cultural and religious composition of that particular deliberative body, I would be surprised if that were the case

      of course, I'd be surprised AND DELIGHTED, because it would make one hell of a post / scoop

    2. Prepare to be delighted... The Bill's sponsor, Paul Ray, has received campaign funding from Altria, aka Philip Morris USA on four occasions which are documented in public record... 300 in 10/2004. 400 in 12/2005, 400 in 10/2006, and 400 in 12/2007. He is also recieving campaign financing from Johnson & Johnson, who owns Alza, who makes Nicoderm patches. then there's Pfizer, the manufacturer of Chantix, the pill that helps you quit smoking via suicide. Glaxo Smith Cline is in on the game, and MANY others. I've been researching and compiling a list since the bill was presented. If you caught the presentation to the house health committee (of which Paul Ray is the Chairman) you might have noticed that considerable emphasis was given by Paul Ray to the reported tax revenue, that is was really exaggerated, but pay no attention to that because his REAL motivation was the health of our children... Smoke and Mirrors. Indeed, his motivation is not tax revenue for state funded health care. It is campaign financing for his disgusting, worm ridden self...

    3. Holy unholy alliances between the holy and the wholly unethical, batpeeps!

    4. I am filled with delight!

  5. Many of those against "vaping" - and I checked a number of the mainstream media links returned by Google - like to point out (or rather parrot) that it hasn't been fully studied(which is true as far as it goes) and is unregulated.

    They also wring hands about the "possible" potency of nicotine (which is clearly stated at every vape shop and includes the alternative of ZERO nicotine - which I'm just about at) - and worry about adulterants - which one has to admit is POSSIBLE - but the possibility does NOT imply the actuality on any widespread scale.

    Meanwhile, tobacco smoke (including unspecified additives by the tobacco industry) contains thousands of chemicals, including numerous proven carcinogens.

    Vaping fluid typically includes about 5 ingredients - nicotine (which is NOT known to cause ANY disease, simply to be addictive - and to have effects as a vasoconstrictor plus others which could be unwanted in people HAVING certain conditions), Propylene Glycol (PG), Vegetable Glycerine (VG) and flavorings, none of which are deemed harmful - and which have been approved for human ingestion (if not studied as vaporant ingredient).

    What is clear on a common sense level is that even if vaping may be less than THE healthiest habit, is that it is logically and anecdotally far less harmful (to the users and those around them) than tobacco use.

    And that tying the vaping industry in knots for years WILL lead to a PREDICTABLE number of horrible health consequences, while at worst, there will be many fewer if vaping is allowed (while studies are done).

    Also, as long as sales are regulated by ID checks, and buyers are responsible, "the children" are no more likely to get a hold of "sweetly flavorful" vaping materials than they are of the many kinds of legal flavored sweet liquor products.

  6. Here's a conservative, "fiscally sound" argument against the bill, btw:

    After all the years of anti-smoking education and programs and expensive anti-smoking products mentioned above), the remaining smokers in the state are a) hard care and b) primarily located in the lower socioeconomic rungs of the social ladder.

    This means that most of the victims of the many serious smoking-related illnesses are likely to also be recipients of Medicaid and other publicly funded health care.

    And therefore that making vaping difficult and expensive a) will help keep those people smoking tobacco and b) help increase government costs for health care - supposedly the anathema of the conservative legislators pushing this bill!

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