Orange County, California, was the hotbed of debate this week as approximately 75 members of the Smoke-Free Alternatives Trade Association (SFATA) met at the State Capital yesterday along with several area vape shop owners and manufacturers. The topic of discussion was the controversial Bill SBX2-5, CA vaping regs that would label all e-cigs and vaping products as tobacco, raise the legal smoking age to 21, and perhaps open the door to excessive taxation for the vaping industry.
The bill has not yet landed on the Governor’s desk, but SAFTA is not taking any chances. The smoke-free activist organization announced on their website in early March that it would meet with Gov. Brown to urge him to veto SBX2-5 by discussing why the proposed regulations would be deadly to an entire industry of small business owners and citizens trying to quit smoking. The proposed CA vaping regs have already been passed by the State Assembly on March 10, and all expectations are that the State Senate will also grant their approval any day now.
CA Vape Shop Owners blast proposed CA vaping regs.
By asking over a dozen vape shop owners to also attend the meeting and voice their concerns, SFATA may be trying to inject a bit of humanity into an otherwise overly politicized debate. If the Governor signs the bill into law, then vape shops will take a direct financial hit with a constant threat of more to come. Buried deep inside Bill SBX2-5 is already the demand to immediately increase the licensing fees for all tobacco retailers.
Understandably, vape and e-cig retailers are up in arms over being lumped into the same category as Marlboro or Camel cigarettes, since tobacco is never an ingredient found in any vaping product. By confusing “nicotine” with “tobacco,” many believe that the vaping industry is essentially taking the fall for the larger, more powerful conglomerate of Big Tobacco.
To illustrate this point, SFATA brought in the Big Guns, Jay Oku, Sales Director of Five Pawns, a chain of vape shops with locations all over the world. According to Oku,
“(E-cigs) is not a tobacco product...What (Five Pawns) is really looking to do is put an end to smoking being the leading cause of preventable deaths.” He then goes on to point out to Gov. Brown that the CA government is currently experiencing a “tremendous amount of unnecessary health care costs” that can be essentially eliminated through healthier vaping products.
Timing is Everything.
If Bill SBX2-5 is passed by the State Senate, then it will likely land on the Governor’s desk within three short days. Gov. Jerry Brown will then have another twelve days to sign the proposed CA vaping regs into law or veto the bill outright. According to SFATA representatives, timing is crucial. The organization knows that meeting with the high ranking political official now rather than later is offers the best chance of killing SBX2-5 once and for all.
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