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  • Vaping ban passed in Allegheny County

    At last Tuesday’s council meeting, the proposed ban on vaping in Allegheny County was passed with an 8-5 vote.

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    Following a number of public hearings and a public consultation that was launched last February, the measure which will make vaping illegal in restaurants and public places was passed, in a move that basically extends the county’s smoking ban to include tobacco products.

    Amongst those who favor the vaping ban, some mentioned secondhand vapor exposure, saying that even though it is not as hazardous as second hand smoke, it is not harmless. So far studies that have focused precisely on this, have found that the toxic chemicals found in exhaled vapor are of insignificant amounts.

    “I feel like they want us to close our doors, I employ 12 employees, I have three business locations, and they’re just trying to always meddle in our business. Leave it up to us. Let us do it.”Gabrielle Williams, owner, Vape Inn Pittsburgh

    Whilst opponents of the ban pointed out that vaping helps smokers curb the habit, and that as Public Health England had suggested last year in 2016, forcing vapers to use their devices in smoking areas, undermines their efforts to quit by placing them in a vulnerable position.

    Business owners feel bullied

    Vape store owners across the US have long been feeling like they are being bullied. “I feel like they want us to close our doors,” said Gabrielle Williams, owner of Vape Inn Pittsburgh. “I employ 12 employees, I have three business locations, and they’re just trying to always meddle in our business. Leave it up to us. Let us do it.”

  • TRUMP’S FDA PICK

    SCOTT GOTTLIEB: TRUMP’S FDA PICK HAS STRONG TIES TO BIG PHARMA AND GLAXOSMITHKLINE

    Posted by Matt Rowland on

    Donald Trump appears to have finally settled on former GlaxoSmithKline consultant Scott Gottlieb as his nominee to head the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a decision that may threaten the American vaping industry.  Gottlieb is a former FDA official of the George W. Bush era with long-standing ties to Big Pharma and the biotech industries.  The venture capitalist has reported received more than $400,000 in payments from pharmaceutical companies between 2013 and 2015 alone.

    However, there is much more to Gottlieb than meets the eye.  In his many press interviews over the years, Dr. Gottlieb has repeatedly taken issue with the Obama-created Center for Tobacco Products (CTP), the newly formed branch of the FDA that is currently headed by Mitch Zeller.

    It is Zeller who many believe is primarily responsible for the drafting, implementation, and enforcement of the FDA deeming regulations that threaten to bankrupt the U.S. vaping industry.  If confirmed, Gottlieb would hold the power to fire Zeller on the spot, if he so chooses.

    But there’s a glitch.  Zeller is also a previous political lobbyist and consultant for the Big Pharma company GlaxoSmithKline.  Are Zeller and Gottlieb friends or foes?

    GOTTLIEB, GLAXOSMITHKLINE, AND VAPING

    Big Pharma companies like GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, and Squibb are often considered adversaries of the vaping community.  Major pharmaceutical companies like these have long held the monopoly on the smoking cessation market as manufacturers of the more conventional nicotine replacement therapies (NRTs) like “the patch” and nicotine gum.

    As vaping has become increasingly popular over the past decade, sales of Big Pharm NRTs have been in steady decline.  And Big Pharma wants to make back their lost earnings.  What better way to accomplish this objective than to manipulate the federal government to regulate the entire industry out of existence by way of some creatively contrived FDA deeming regulations?

    When President Obama appointed former GlaxoSmithKline employee Mitch Zeller to head the CTP and Jack Henningfield, the owner of the consulting firm through which Zeller was hired by GlaxoSmithKline, to head the Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee, this was the first step to achieve this goal.  Now we have Gottlieb entering the picture, and according to the New York Times, Gottlieb has reportedly received more than $400,000 in payments from pharmaceutical companies between 2013 and 2015 – including GlaxoSmithKline.

    GOTTLIEB’S CONTROVERSIAL FORBES ARTICLE OF 2013

    In 2013, Scott Gottlieb wrote a contributing article for Forbes Magazine that many in the vaping community are considering a potentially positive sign that the Trump nominee may be on the side of vaping.  The following is one portion of the article that is getting a lot of buzz.

    “FDA was to create a path to enable cigarette makers to transition away from smoked tobacco and win government approval of consumable products that used tobacco but presumably harbored less, and perhaps even none of the health risks posed by smoking. When this quid pro quo was pushed through Congress, the industry’s critics and allies each positioned it as a win-win. But it was dependent on FDA being able to establish – and maintain – a regulatory path that let tobacco get approval for new products that posed a ‘reduced harm’ over traditional smoked cigarettes.”

    It is Gottlieb statements like these that many in the vaping community feel illustrates how knowledgeable Gottlieb truly is about vaping, electronic cigarettes, and their related health benefits.   The fact that he refers to certain people within the federal government as “the anti-tobacco crowd” and “activists” is also very appealing to vapers.

    However, this Forbes article was written way back in 2013, and a lot has happened since then. Trump was elected President, another Big Pharma Fan named Tom Price became the new head of the Department of Health and Human Services, and Scott Gottlieb received over $400,000 in wages from companies like GlaxoSmithKline.

    Scott Gottlieb may be a quality choice to have the FDA deeming regulations “repealed and replaced” by the Trump Administration at some point in the very near future, but “replaced” with what?  That is the more important question.

  • Why President Trump Could Be Good News for the E-Cig Community By Joe Simonson|10:43 pm, March 9, 2017

    God sent electronic-cigarette users a savior on November 8th: Donald Trump.

    Starting in 2010, the e-cig business began to take off, growing an average 114 percent annually for the next five years. Here in Manhattan, many bodegas transformed from small shops offering ten different kinds of Doritos to full-blown vaporizer boutiques offering 30 flavors of vape juice and a variety of vaping accesories.

    But in May 2016, President and noted combustion smoker Barack Obama’s Food and Drug Administration unleashed a barrage of regulations on the rapidly growing e-cig industry.  The regulations essentially make it too expensive to be in the e-cig business for anyone other than Big Tobacco. That’s because despite the fact that the liquid used in e-cigs contains little to no tobacco, the FDA nonetheless classified the devices and juices as  “tobacco products.” Under the new regulations, which began taking effect in August of last year, any manufacturer of e-cigs or juices must “undertake a package of research” if the e-cig models or liquids weren’t on the market before 2007.  This research can cost over a staggering $3 million per product, according to Dr. Christopher Russell, a senior research fellow at the Center for Substance Use Research.

    That’s poised to change under President Trump. His campaign platform of slashing burdensome regulations and cultivating a friendlier business climate presents a major opportunity for vaping enthusiasts.  While Trump hasn’t mentioned  the FDA’s regulations specifically in any of his speeches, that isn’t stopping e-cig crusaders from making sure America has its first cloud-chasing president.

    Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist is best known for his Taxpayer Protection Pledge, which challenges members of Congress to promise not to raise income or business taxes during their time in office.  He’s now taken on the role of a vaping folk hero.

    Norquist is in early talks with Trump administration officials to make sure the FDA’s rules are delayed at least two years so Congress has time to pass bills nullifying the Obama-era regulations.  Trump’s nomination of Georgia Congressman Tom Price as Secretary of Health and Human Services was an early sign that the vaping community has an ally in the White House and might finally find some relief after years of continued assault.

    “There’s close to a 100 percent chance that the [FDA’s] rules are delayed,” Norquist said.  “I have complete confidence in Price and Trump’s worldview.”

    He also thinks the issue presents a real opportunity for Republicans to expand their party.  “You run into more people with tattoos than you’d see [at a normal Republican Party rally].  It’s a different group of people.  I’ve talked to people who’ve said ‘I’m a Democrat, but until we fix [the issues surrounding e-cigarettes], I’m a Republican.”

    Traveling around the country, Norquist see these puffers as members of a burgeoning political movement.

    “Vaping is a real coalition. I’ve seen it at the state and local level,” Norquist told me over the phone. “Unlike tobacco, beer, or wine, where people don’t feel comfortable saying ‘Don’t tax it,’ [people who vape] feel virtuous about their life choices,” and aren’t afraid to fight back, Norquist said.

    In the past year, Norquist has seen the power of the vaping community. He mentioned a number of state and national races that he was convinced were partially decided by the candidate’s position on e-cig taxes and regulations.  The man has a point: Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson explicitly thanked the vaping community for their support in his race and promised to be an advocate for them in Washington.

    Norquist wants to continue focusing on state and local elections.   Similarly to the chaotic town halls Republicans are facing over their proposed changes to Obamacare, or the massive Tea Party protests in 2010, Norquist wants to see vape users at every town hall expressing concern over potential tax hikes or bans by liberal politicians.

    Just this week, Norquist identified a future battleground:

    “Nevada just elected a Democrat house and Senate in the state. and now? VAPING TAXES OF COURSE,” He tweeted Wednesday night.

    A mere temporary bump in the road.  At the end of our call, Norquist almost sounded Trumpian in his enthusiasm and confidence for the future.

    “We’re gonna win and we’re gonna build a political coalition so strong that when we win, they can’t ever take it away.”

  • Ohio has been hit with a proposed 69% tax hike on vapor products!

    Ohio: Next U.S. State Facing Vapor Tax Hike of 69%

    Pennsylvania became the 6th and largest U.S. state with a tax on vapor products in October 2016, joining North Carolina, Minnesota, Kansas, Louisiana, & West Virginia. Now, the bordering state of Ohio has been hit with a proposed 69% tax hike on vapor products by Governor Kasich (OH-R). The Ohio Vapor Trade Association estimates 800 businesses will close down and 5K jobs eliminated if this legislation passes. We had the chance to speak to the OHVTA President, James Jarvis.

  • New Smoking Ban

    New smoking ban for city buses to begin Wednesday

    By KKTV |
    Updated: Tue 9:46 AM, Mar 14, 2017

    COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - Starting Wednesday, a new ordinance will be enforced that bans smoking and vaping on city buses, as well as the downtown Colorado Springs terminal.

    The mandate was recently passed by Colorado Springs City Council. It involves buses from Mountain Metropolitan Transit.

    People cannot smoke or use a vaping pen on the buses. They can also not use the downtown terminal to smoke or vape. That includes the outdoor boarding area.

  • Tax reform can save industry

    LEMOYNE, Pa. (WHTM) — A state lawmaker’s proposal to repeal and replace a burdensome tax on the e-cigarette industry has the support of a local shop owner.

    Dennis Brogan is co-owner of both Gettysburg Vapes and Cloud Jammer vape shops in Lemoyne. He says small businesses like his are being forced to close under the current 40 percent wholesale tax imposed by the state last year.

    “That hits us up front,” Brogan said. “Something that cost $1,000 normally is actually now $1,400 for the same inventory that I’ve got to bring in. It’s ridiculous.”

    The current state tax is wide reaching and, according to Brogan, industry killing. Not only are the e-liquids used in vapor pipes subject to the tax, but so are the pipes themselves, batteries and any other accessories. Vape shop owners like Brogan worked to avoid a retroactive 40 percent tax also imposed on existing inventory.

    “We just tried to get rid of everything – sell, sell, sell – special after special to move it out,” Brogan said. “We wanted as little on the shelves as possible for them to tax, so we could see what we could really afford to bring in.”

    The result has been a smaller variety of liquid flavors and vaping equipment on the shelves. Brogan says as an established business of several years, he was able to persuade certain vendors to sell products at a reduced price, absorbing some of the added cost of the wholesale tax.

    “Without that, we wouldn’t have been able to stay in business,” he said. “We’re lucky we had that relationship because other shops did not.”

    Brogan applauds a bill newly introduced by state Sen. Camera Bartolotta (R-46), which would replace the wholesale tax with a five-cent per milliliter retail tax on e-liquid only. According to Bartolotta, more than 100 Pennsylvania vape shops have closed since the tax took effect in October.

    “As more shop owners continue to go out of business as a result of this tax, it becomes even less likely that the state will collect the amount of revenues projected for the current year’s budget,” Bartolotta said. “It is critical to revisit this issue and plot a better way forward that promotes growth in the industry.”

    Bartolotta says she opposed imposing the wholesale tax and warned other legislators that it would lead to shop closings and job losses. She says she has learned a lot about the vape industry by speaking with a family member who owns an online vape business in Florida.

    “Is it a health food? I mean, is it a healthy habit?” Bartolotta said. “No, but it’s far healthier than traditional tobacco products.”

  • Tobacco Harm Reduction and Vapor Associations Join Forces in Urging House Leaders to Support HR 1136

    http://casaa.org/news/tobacco-harm-reduction-and-vapor-associations-join-forces-in-urging-house-leaders-to-support-hr-1136/

    The Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association (CASAA) joined the American Vaping Association (AVA), Vapor Technology Association (VTA), and the Smoke-Free Alternatives Trade Association (SFATA) in sending a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan (WI-01) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA-12), urging support for The FDA Deeming Authority Clarification Act of 2017 (HR 1136).

    The letter underscores the urgent need to modernize the 2007 “predicate date” for products newly deemed tobacco by the FDA. Without this change, nearly all vapor products currently on the market will be banned by August 2018. If Congress fails to act, millions of people who have quit smoking by switching to vaping will be pressured to either return to smoking or seek out products on a newly created black market.

    The FDA Deeming Authority Clarification Act of 2017 will allow an entire vapor products industry to remain afloat, saving tens of thousands of American jobs while providing unprecedented regulation of vapor products appropriate for this innovative new technology.” The group goes on to highlight that HR 1136 would “protect consumers by preserving access to the diverse vapor marketplace, as opposed to the current law and FDA’s deeming regulations that threaten to force millions of adult consumers back to smoking or into the black market.”
    You can read the full letter here.

    You can take action by urging your lawmakers to support HR 1136 at www.august8th.org.

  • Trump Could, And Should, Save Vaping Industry From FDA’s Costly Regulations

    New report calls for Trump administration to make it easier for Americans to switch from smoking to vaping.

    Robert Cohen/TNS/NewscomRobert Cohen/TNS/NewscomIf President Donald Trump is looking for an easy way to bring American jobs back—without imposing tariffs, building walls, or imposing other big government policies that will cost American consumers more in the long run—and ease regulations on American businesses, he could start by repealing new regulations for electronic cigarettes approved in August by the Food and Drug Administration.

    Those regulations for electronic cigarettes adopted by the FDA during the final year of the Obama administration could, if left on the books, effectively wipe out large swaths of the vaping industry. The Smoke-Free Alternatives Trade Association, an e-cigarette industry group, believes as much as 99 percent of all vaping products could be affected.

    That costs jobs, of course, but it also curtails the potential health benefits from getting Americans to switch from smoking to vaping.

    A new report released this week by the R Street Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based free market think tank, argues that the Trump administration should take immediate steps to overturn the FDA deeming rule and other federal impediments to the growth of vaping.

    "Perverse tobacco policy is failing the American public and will soon destroy thousands of small and medium-sized businesses that are part of the solution, not part of the problem," write Clive Bates, former director of the United Kingdom's Action on Smoking and Health; Eli Lehrer, president of the R Street Institute; and David Sweanor, a professor at the University of Ottawa's Center for Health Law, the three authors of the R Street report.

    Among the eight recommendations in the report, the most important is probably wiping away the 2016 reinterpretation of a 2009 law giving the FDA authority to regulate electronic cigarettes and e-liquid by the same standards as tobacco products like cigarettes—yes, even though there is no tobacco in e-cigarettes.

    As Reason's Jacob Sullum has written, this is essentially a slow-motion ban on many vaping products. The FDA's application process will cost as much as $1 million and a separate application will be required for each and every product. Smaller manufacturers unable to afford the costly application process will likely be driven out of the market, or will be bought up by larger businesses. Any product that has been introduced since 2009 is subject to the new rules and manufacturers have until later this year to either pull their products off shelves, or pay up and get approved.

    So far, there have been no signals from the Trump administration on whether it will continue with Obama-era policies on e-cigarettes or move in a new direction. It's unlikely that there will be any major policy announcements until Trump chooses a new FDA commissioner—something that he's unlikely to do until after his pick to run the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Congressman Tom Price (R-Georgia) is confirmed by the Senate.

    Jim O'Neill, a managing director at Mithril Capital, an investment firm co-launched by Peter Thiel, has been rumored to be on Trump's shortlist to run the FDA.

    Vaping businesses are hoping to see quick action from the new administration.

    "We believe something needs to be done to protect the thousands of businesses that are a crucial player in the global tobacco harm reduction strategy, and help those who are eager to quit smoking have easy access to vaping products," said Patricia Kovacevic, general counsel for Nicopure Labs, a Florida-based manufacturer of e-cigarette fluid that has launched a lawsuit challenging the FDA's deeming rule.

    Another major change recommended in the R Street report is allowing vaping products to be advertised as what they are: healthier than traditional cigarettes.

    The authors note that vaping isn't completely safe—few things are—but evidence shows that vaping is safer than combustion-based products like cigarettes and cigars.

    Guy Bentley, a research associate for the Reason Foundation (which publishes this blog), writes at the Washington Examiner that more than 480,000 Americans died from smoking-related diseases in 2015. That's more than alcohol, car, illicit drug, HIV and gun deaths combined. The cause of these deaths is the deadly smoke inhaled into the lungs, not nicotine.

    The growth of vaping as a substitute for traditional forms of smoking means "smokers can mimic the experience of smoking and get the nicotine they desire while significantly reducing their risk for deadly disease," Bentley writes.

    The rationale for holding e-cigarettes to the same regulatory standard as traditional, tobacco-containing cigarettes is built on the questionable assumption that Americans who smoke e-cigarettes will end up smoking traditional cigarettes too.

    While many e-cigarettes contain nicotine extracted from tobacco, but considering them the equivalent of cigarettes is an affront to common sense and medical science. There's no combustion, no smoke and no tar in e-cigarettes, along with fewer cancer-causing chemicals. One study from the United Kingdom found that e-cigarettes are 95 percent safer than their combustible cousins. Driving e-cigarettes out of the marketplace, as the FDA's new rules are almost certain to do, will make it harder for nicotine-addicted smokers to kick the habit by taking up a safer alternatives.

    Despite all those arguments, perhaps the best example of the absurdity of the FDA's decision to classify e-cigarettes as tobacco products is the simple fact that vaping doesn't involve tobacco. In fact, some e-cigarette makers offer "tobacco free" nicotine that is synthesized in a lab or produced from other types of plants, like tomatoes and green peppers.

    If the federal government continues taking a hard-line stance that prohibits vaping, or makes vaping products so expensive or difficult to obtain that they effectively are prohibited, it is only standing in the way of potential health benefits of Americans switching from smoking to vaping.

  • New Jersey May Ban Flavored Vaping Liquids

    New Jersey

    Vape store owners say state law already prohibits them from selling e-cigarettes to anyone under the age of 19.

  • Allegheny County vaping ban passes

    Allegheny County vaping ban passes

    Vaping -- including e-cigarettes and handheld vaporizers -- will be illegal in public places under a bill that was passed by the county council Tuesday night. It essentially expands on the county's smoking ban that also includes tobacco products.

    Updated: 9:40 PM EST Mar 7, 2017

    A ban on vaping in public places was passed by the Allegheny County council at Tuesday night's meeting.

    The vote was 8-5 in favor of the measure, which includes e-cigarettes and handheld vaporizers and will make vaping illegal in restaurants and public places where smoking is already not allowed. Two council members abstained.

    Chief Executive Rich Fitzgerald, who has been a strong proponent of the vaping ban, called it an initiative that can help "attract companies and talent" to the Pittsburgh region.

    "I am proud that Allegheny County continues to focus on protecting our public health and ensuring that our community is one where quality of life is important," Fitzgerald said in a written statement. "These measures, recommended by the Allegheny County Health Department and passed by the Board of Health, have made a statement that we value our public's health."

    Dr. Karen Hacker, director of the county Health Department, also praised the ban and said that "over 500 jurisdictions" have passed similar regulations.

    Essentially, the measure will expand on the county's smoking ban that also includes tobacco products.

    Opponents included local vape store owners who say they should be allowed to make their own decisions about how their shops are run.

    "I feel like they want us to close our doors," said Gabrielle Williams, owner of Vape Inn Pittsburgh. "I employ 12 employees, I have three business locations, and they're just trying to always meddle in our business. Leave it up to us. Let us do it."

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