The Smoke-Free Alternatives Trade Association (SFATA) is sending representatives from its California chapter to talk with Gov. Jerry Brown in the hopes of convincing him to veto SBX2-5, proposed legislation that will define vaping devices as tobacco products. This is only one of six different measures currently on the Senate floor after successfully passing the State Assembly just last week. Other bills including raising the legal smoking age to 21 and increasing the licensing fees for all tobacco retailers, distributors, and wholesalers.
If SFATA is successful and convinces the Governor to veto SBX2-5, then portions of the other proposed legislation would automatically be rendered irrelevant for the vaping industry. On March 9, 2016, SFATA sent a letter to Governor Brown, highlighting several different points of consideration, including:
- Vapor products do not contain tobacco. Therefore, SBX2-5 does not apply.
- Under the proposed regulations, even therapeutic vaporizers and batteries would be classified as tobacco products under SBX2-5.
- SBX2-5 is very vague regarding the new licensing regulations, which leaves the vaping industry open to unwarranted and excessive tax implications that are traditionally reserved for deadly tobacco cigarettes and cigars.
- Legal ramifications to the vapor retailer are still unclear under SBX2-5, which may mean even more excessive legislation still to come.
- Passing SBX2-5 may put thousands of vape shops out of business, which could have an immediate and negative affect on the state economy.
- There is no Grandfather Clause in SBX2-5 related to current smokers between the ages of 18-21.
The SFATA letter is quick to show support for current legislation requiring child-resistant packaging and prohibiting the sale of electronic cigarettes and vaping products to minors. In fact, SFATA is not even opposed to “reasonable licensing requirements.” However, passing SBX2-5 will likely lead to “unintended consequences,” which will be catastrophic for the vaping industry.
In an effort to urge the Governor even further to veto SBX2-5, the letter reads,
“Our industry was built by former smokers that morphed into small- and mid-sized businesses as a way to offer a significant alternative to combustible tobacco. In California alone, there are approximately 1,400 vaping retail locations, plus hundreds of manufacturers, distributors, and related businesses that contribute to the state’s economy, generating taxes and thousands of jobs.”
Cynthia Cabrera, president of SFATA, also believes that placing such harsh restrictions on the vaping industry will ultimately discourage current smokers of tobacco products from switching to e-cigs and vaping devices as a smoking cessation tool. By equating vaping with smoking, the California Legislature is not acting in the best interests of its citizens.
Meanwhile, other states are looking to California to set the tone for their own future vaping legislation. In a recent interview with the Attorney General from the state of Washington, Bob Ferguson believes that the new California law should take effect immediately. If Gov. Jerry Brown signs California’s SBX2-
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