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Godshall and Conley refute ACS/AHA/ALA's false claims about vaping at PA House Health Cmte hearing

Discussion in 'Legislation News' started by Bill Godshall, Jun 16, 2015.

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  1. Bill Godshall

    Bill Godshall Executive Director
    Smokefree Pennsylvania
    ECF Veteran

    Supporting member
    Apr 2, 2009
    Yesterday, the PA House Health Committee held a hearing on a bill (HB 682) that would ban vaping in all PA workplaces and ban smoking in a dozen casinos and several thousand liquor licensed establishments.
    Bill Information - House Bill 682; Regular Session 2015-2016 - PA General Assembly

    - - - -

    Last Friday, a news article announcing the hearing and promoting the bill was published at
    Expansion of Pennsylvania’s indoor smoking ban to be revisited
    Expansion of Pennsylvania's indoor smoking ban to be revisited |

    - - - -

    The Agenda for the House Health Committee’s June 15 hearing on HB 682 (in order of appearance) was
    (in support of HB 682)
    Representative Thomas Murt (prime sponsor of HB 682)
    David Greineder, American Heart Association – Great Rivers Affiliate
    Dr. Mubashir Mumtaz, PinnacleHealth Cardiovascular Unit
    Diane Phillips, American Cancer Society
    Deborah Brown, American Lung Association
    Clarke Woods, Respiratory Therapist, PinnacleHealth System
    Stephen Kalinoski, North Penn VFW
    (in opposition to HB 682)
    Bill Godshall, Smokefree Pennsylvania
    Gregory Conley, American Vaping Association
    Thomas Helsel, PA Association of Nationally Chartered Organizations
    Tom Bonner, Greenwood Gaming and Entertainment

    - - - - - -

    While e-cigarettes comprised very little of the submitted testimony by the first seven testifiers (which mostly focused on 2nd hand smoke), several Reps on the Committee injected vaping into the discussion by asking Dr. Mubashir Mumtaz about scientific evidence on e-cigarettes and health.

    Mumtaz (and AHA's Greineder, who was on the same panel) responded by grossly misrepresenting the evidence (which they don't understand), and by repeating false and misleading fear mongering claims about vaping.

    That's when the the hearing shifted to focus more on vaping than smoking, as other Reps on the Committee also asked similar questions about vaping to the next panel comprised of ACS and ALA staff, who also misrepresented the scientific evidence (which they don't understand) and made more inaccurate claims about vaping, and conflating it with smoking.

    Then things changed quickly when I testified, followed by Greg Conley (below).

    - - - - - -

    Testimony by
    William T Godshall, MPH
    Executive Director
    Smokefree Pennsylvania
    1926 Monongahela Avenue
    Pittsburgh, PA 15218

    I’m Bill Godshall, founder and executive director of Smokefree Pennsylvania. I thank Chairman Baker for inviting me to testify today.

    Since 1990, we’ve educated the public about the hazards of cigarette smoking and tobacco smoke pollution, and we’ve advocated policies to ban smoking in workplaces, stop cigarette marketing to youth, increase cigarette tax rates, and hold cigarette companies accountable in civil court for their egregious actions of the past.

    Before founding Smokefree Pennsylvania, I worked for the Allegheny County Health Department and the American Cancer Society, where I campaigned to enact and implement the 1987 Pittsburgh Smoking Pollution Control Ordinance, which was the first law outside California to ban smoking in the vast majority of indoor workplaces.

    In 2007, we convinced US Senator Mike Enzi to amend the federal Tobacco Control Act to require color graphic picture warnings on all cigarette packs, an key health policy the FDA still hasn’t implemented.

    For disclosure, neither Smokefree Pennsylvania nor I have ever received any funding from any tobacco, drug or vapor product company.

    Seven years have passed since I stood behind Governor Rendell as he signed the Pennsylvania Clean Indoor Air Act, which banned smoking in 99% of indoor workplaces.

    We urge Health committee members to eliminate exemptions from the Clean Indoor Air Act for casinos and several thousand liquor licensed establishments because millions of nonsmokers are still involuntarily exposed to tobacco smoke pollution in those indoor workplaces and public places.

    We do, however, strongly oppose provisions in HB 682 that would ban the use of vapor products (aka e-cigarettes) in all PA indoor workplaces by falsely redefining the term “smoking” to include smokefree vaping.

    In sharp contrast to fear mongering claims by the Obama administration’s DHHS and Big Pharma financed ACS, AHA, ALA, the scientific and empirical evidence consistently confirms that nicotine vapor products are 99% (+/-1%) less hazardous than cigarettes, have never been found to be associated with any disease, and pose no health risks to nonusers.

    After unsuccessfully urging the FDA to keep vapor products legal in 2009, we filed an amicus brief with the DC Court of Appeals in 2010 in support of lawsuits by two vapor product companies challenging the FDA’s e-cigarette import ban. The federal appeals court unanimously upheld Judge Richard Leon’s ruling striking down FDA’s ban as unlawful, which is why vapor products are now legal in this country.

    Nicotine vapor products have already replaced about 2 Billion packs of cigarettes in the US, and nearly all of these products have been consumed by smokers and by exsmokers who switched to vaping.

    Two recent surveys found that 3 and 4 million Americans respectively are no longer regular cigarette smokers thanks to vapor products, which are at least as effective for smoking cessation as FDA approved nicotine products that have a 95% failure rate.

    Adult and teen surveys consistently find that smokers and ex-smokers account for >90% of those who report using an e-cig in the past 30 days, and it appears that >99% of daily vapers are smokers or ex-smokers who switched to vaping.

    There’s no evidence vapor products have ever created daily nicotine dependence in any nonsmoker, and there’s no evidence vapor products have served as a gateway to cigarette smoking for anyone.

    In regards to indoor air quality, all of the following things emit more indoor air pollution than does an e-cigarette:
    - smoker’s clothes and hair,
    - cooking,
    - glues and paint,
    - carpeting,
    - household cleaning products,
    - printers and photocopiers,
    - dry cleaned clothes,
    - hair sprays, perfumes and cosmetics,
    - air fresheners, and even
    - a cup of coffee or tea.

    While all of these things pose negligible or no health risks to the public, any objective individual, organization or health agency that truly desires to further reduce indoor air pollution would advocate restricting or banning them before targeting lifesaving vapor products.

    Since vapor product sales began to skyrocket in 2009, adult and teen smoking rates have declined to new record lows every year.

    Public health benefits every time a smoker vapes instead of smoking a cigarette, and vapor products have similar risk/benefit profiles as childhood vaccines, water and sewage treatment, and condoms.

    Since smokers can simply substitute vapor products or other smokefree alternatives instead of smoking a cigarette, banning smoking in PA casinos and bars won’t negatively impact those businesses.

    Vapor products benefit many employers because workers don’t waste time on smoke breaks, and because vaping has helped employees quit smoking and reduced employer healthcare costs.

    Besides, unlike smokefree policies, its impossible to enforce vaping bans because vapor products emit no smoke, and because there is no visible vapor exhaled if one holds their breath for several seconds after inhaling.

    The proposed vaping ban in HR 682 would prompt many vapers to go outside to smoking areas and be exposed to secondhand smoke once again, and would deceive the public to inaccurately believe that vaping is just as hazardous as cigarette smoking.

    We do, however, urge the General Assembly to ban the sale of vapor products to minors (as PA is one of just four states that has not yet banned their sales to minors), and we support banning vaping at preschools and K-12 schools, as those are reasonable regulations.

    In sum, since HB 682 bans vaping in all PA workplaces, while banning smoking in just 1% of remaining workplaces, we strongly oppose the bill as introduced.

    But if the vaping ban provisions of the bill were removed, we’d strongly support the bill.

    - - - -

    Statement by American Vaping Association’s Gregory Conley at the PA House Health Committee’s June 15 hearing on HB 682.

    Chairman Baker, Chairman Fabrizio, and distinguished members of the Pennsylvania House Health Committee:

    My name is Gregory Conley and I am here today on behalf the American Vaping Association, a nonprofit that advocates for small- and medium-sized businesses in the vapor product and electronic cigarette markets. In August, I will be celebrating two important milestones – first, it will have been five years since I quit smoking with a vapor product after years of struggling to quit with products like the nicotine gum, patch, and lozenge. Additionally, I will be celebrating five years of being an advocate for these tobacco-free technology products, the first three years of which I spent volunteering for the U.S.’ largest consumer advocacy group representing consumers of vapor products. I’d like to urge you to make a science-based decision and vote NO on HB 682.

    What made me become an advocate for these products is exemplified by some of the testimony that has been and will be given today by opponents of vapor products. When I quit, I was shocked to see that people who called themselves ‘anti-smoking advocates’ were out urging state governments to ban the sale of vapor products to adults – an argument that they’ve wisely abandoned in recent years – and restrict their usage in the same way combustible cigarettes are. I began intensely studying the issue, and not long after came to the conclusion that these supposed public health groups were, in efect, communicating a dangerous message: Quit or Die. These groups’ opposition to a third choice for smokers – use of low-risk nicotine products – was and remains a true public health problem.

    The AVA is in agreement with many in the public health field that vapor products represent our best hope yet to get millions of American smokers to quit inhaling burning smoke into their lungs on a daily basis. Every month, as the scientific literature grows supporting vaping as being far, far less hazardous than smoking, the support for harm reduction policies among public health advocates, as well some in the tobacco control community, grows as well. Indeed, in the UK, the country’s largest anti-smoking group, Action on Smoking & Health, supports vaping and strongly OPPOSES government restrictions on the use of vapor products by adults. Many NHS cessation services are even actively ofering support to smokers looking to quit with vapor products.

    Current methods are not working. A recent CDC study found that from 2011-2013, cigarette consumption experienced statistically significant declines in 26 states. Pennsylvania was not one of them, meaning that approximately 20% -- or over 2 million Pennsylvania adults – are still smoking. 2014 and 2015 have seen a boom in new vapor stores opening, and each of these stores is dedicated to helping smokers switch to these smoke-free, tobacco-free, and often nicotine-free products. Recent government-funded studies in Oklahoma and Minnesota have found that vaping is now the MOST USED quit smoking tool in both those states.

    A favorite tactic of vapor product detractors is to make reference to scary-sounding chemicals that have been detected in vapor product liquids or vapor. Critically, they fail to note the actual levels of these chemicals found. In doing so, they ignore a central tenet of toxicology – the dose makes the poison, and in the case of vapor products, NO STUDY has ever shown that exhaled vapor contains any chemical at a level harmful to the health of those exposed.

    Let’s be clear -- vapor product advocates are not arguing for the unfettered right to vape wherever they please. Instead, we believe that with the evidence showing that these products pose no harm to bystanders, individual businesses should be able to set their own policies. This weekend, Mr. Godshall and I attended an age-restricted convention in Pittsburgh that had several thousand attendees. This event not only likely brought hundreds of thousands of dollars in economic activity to the area, but it also helped create ex-smokers, which will save Pennsylvania millions in Medicare spending down the line.

    In conclusion, there is no reason to restrict the usage of vapor products, and there are a multitude of reasons not to. States should follow the lead of respected public health advocates who have studied and published on the issue. Vapor products are creating EX-SMOKERS every day in Pennsylvania and the State should actively avoid any measure that would discourage adults from switching.

    - - - -

    Although Committee Chair Matthew Baker scheduled just 5-10 minutes for Committee members to ask questions of Conley and me, it lasted about a half hour. During that time, Greg and I thoroughly debunked many of the false claims by the Dr. and by ACS, AHA, ALA staffers (who didn't get a chance to rebut our statements since they had already testified).

    I pointed out that ACS, AHA, ALA have been making many of those same false claims about e-cigs ever since 2009 when they lobbied FDA to unlawfully ban e-cigs, when they defended FDA's unlawful e-cig ban in federal court, and since the Court struck down FDA's ban as unlawful.

    Everyone in the room (including about a dozen Reps on the Committee) quickly realized that both Greg and I knew far more about e-cigs than everyone who testified before us all combined. And the more questions Committee members asked us (most of which were intended to trip us up), the more time we had to refute more lies and expose the deceitful tactics of ACS, AHA, ALA.

    One Committee member spoke up in support of e-cigs helping people quit smoking, and we prompted everyone else on the Committee to reassess their previous beliefs (and the claims by the Dr., ACS, AHA, ALA) about vaping and e-cigs.

    The hearing was broadcast live on PCN TV, but I couldn't find it today on their website.
    PA SFATA Chair Chris Hughes taped the segment involving Greg and I on his I-phone, and he's trying to make to improve the quality of the audio so we can post it.

    - - - -

    Greg issued a press release about out testimony at
    Anti smoking advocates urge rejection of proposed PA vaping ban
    Anti-Smoking Advocates Urge Rejection of PA Vaping Ban - The American Vaping Association

    So far, I've found two news articles about the hearing.

    Opinions clash on expanding indoor smoking ban to e-cigarettes (AVA’s Greg Conley quoted)
    Opinions clash on expanding indoor smoking ban to e-cigarettes |

    Pennsylvania lawmakers consider end to smoking ban exemptions (Smokefree Pennsylvania’s Bill Godshall quoted)
    Pennsylvania Lawmakers Consider End To Smoking Ban Exemptions « CBS Philly

    - - - -

    Before the hearing began, I sat beside the bill's sponsor Tom Murt (as it was the only empty seat) but didn't know who he was until I politely introduced myself and told him of our past 25 years of campaigning to ban smoking in PA workplaces, while nicely telling him that we opposed his proposal to ban vaping.

    After the hearing, we spoke to several Reps on the Committee, including Mary Jo Daley, the sponsor of PA legislation to impose a 40% tax on e-cigs. I think we might have even convinced her to begin supporting vaping (while she told us that her husband died from smoking).

    - - -

    PA vapers should go to CASAA's CTA, and contact their Rep to eliminate the vaping ban provision in the bill.

    CASAA Call to Action urges Pennsylvania vapers to oppose bill (HB 682) to ban vaping
    CASAA: Oppose an indoor vaping ban in Pennsylvania (HB 682)
    • Like Like x 45
  2. Robino1

    Robino1 Resting in Peace ECF Veteran

    Thank you Bill and Greg :)
    • Like Like x 3
  3. Endor

    Endor Super Member Verified Member ECF Veteran

    Jan 31, 2012
    Southern California
    Although I don't live in PA, at least there is finally some uplifting news for a change! We can just hope that it spreads to other states and localities. Thanks to both you and Mr. Conley for your continued support of the vaping community.
    • Like Like x 3
  4. nicnik

    nicnik Ultra Member ECF Veteran

    Apr 20, 2015
    Illinois, USA
    Thanks, Bill! Sounds like you and Greg did a lot of good at that hearing! Looking forward to hearing your testimony if the audio becomes available.
    • Like Like x 4
  5. pennysmalls

    pennysmalls Squonkmeister Verified Member ECF Veteran

    Jul 26, 2013
    We need to clone you Bill and you Greg, we need you guys everywhere.
    • Like Like x 6
  6. somdcomputerguy

    somdcomputerguy vaper dedicato Verified Member ECF Veteran

    Supporting member
    Yeah, what she said.

    Thanks guys
    • Like Like x 1
  7. Marc411

    Marc411 Vaping Master Verified Member ECF Veteran

    Mar 17, 2014
    Windy City
    Nicely done gentlemen, thank you for all your efforts.
    • Like Like x 2
  8. Kent C

    Kent C ECF Guru Verified Member ECF Veteran

    Jun 12, 2009
    NW Ohio US

    Nice work!!
    • Like Like x 1
  9. PhilsPhanatic

    PhilsPhanatic Full Member Verified Member

    Oct 8, 2014
    Southampton, PA
    Thanks gentleman, much appreciated!
    • Like Like x 1
  10. sofarsogood

    sofarsogood Vaping Master ECF Veteran

    Oct 12, 2014
    For the past 8 months I and several other employees have been allowed to vape on our shop floor. Nobody cares except the boss, who still smokes, and he likes that we aren't stepping out for smoke breaks. A new microbrewery near me at first banned ecigs then decided to tolerate it on a case by case basis, meaning be discrete. So far Michigan is quiet about ecigs. The republican governor would like to tax them. The republican legislature apparently wants to keep hands off for now except for a ban on selling to kids. If the FDA asked me I'd say, keep procrastinating.
  11. Rickb119

    Rickb119 Ultra Member ECF Veteran

    Jul 20, 2013
    Greeley, CO, USA
    Thank you very much for all that you do.
  12. 10x sugar

    10x sugar Super Member Verified Member ECF Veteran

    Sep 13, 2013
    OC, NJ
    Thank you Bill and Greg for your tireless efforts on behalf of all vapers.
    • Like Like x 1
  13. Verb

    Verb Ultra Member Verified Member ECF Veteran

    Apr 26, 2014
    Eastern, PA, USA
    As a PA resident, I thank you for your time and effort.
  14. Princessdee

    Princessdee Ultra Member Verified Member ECF Veteran

    Mar 23, 2009
    PA, USA
    Thank you so much, Bill. And pass on our collective Thanks to Greg.
    We appreciate all you both do.
    • Like Like x 1
  15. azb8496

    azb8496 Senior Member ECF Veteran

    Dec 5, 2013
    VA, USA
    Thank you, Bill & Greg, for fighting for my (and many others) right to live. Those were the best testimonies in a public hearing I've read so far.
    • Like Like x 1
  16. DC2

    DC2 Tootie Puffer Verified Member ECF Veteran

    Jun 21, 2009
    San Diego
    Having Bill Godshall and Gregory Conley at the same place and time?

    God bless you both.
    • Like Like x 3
  17. Katya

    Katya ECF Guru Verified Member ECF Veteran

    Supporting member
    Feb 23, 2010
    Thanks Bill and Greg! :)
    • Like Like x 1
  18. rothenbj

    rothenbj Vaping Master Verified Member ECF Veteran

    Supporting member
    Jul 23, 2009
    Green Lane, Pa
    • Like Like x 1
  19. nicnik

    nicnik Ultra Member ECF Veteran

    Apr 20, 2015
    Illinois, USA
  20. Bill Godshall

    Bill Godshall Executive Director
    Smokefree Pennsylvania
    ECF Veteran

    Supporting member
    Apr 2, 2009
    Nothing like a news article that quotes one supporter of the bill, and denies the existence of the massive opposition to the bill.

    I just posted a comment and my testimony on the Philly Magazine's webpage.
    • Like Like x 4
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