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Maryland bill to tax vapor products and ban vaping not even supported by sponsor

Discussion in 'Legislation News' started by Bill Godshall, Mar 4, 2016.

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  1. Bill Godshall

    Bill Godshall Executive Director
    Smokefree Pennsylvania
    ECF Veteran

    Supporting member
    Apr 2, 2009
    Wednesday March 2 was a very good day for Maryland vapers and vape shops at the MD House Committee on Economic Matters public hearing on a bill (HB 861) to impose a 30% tax on vapor products and ban vaping in all workplaces and public places at
    GAM-HB0861 Documents 2016 Regular Session

    The 25 page bill was so badly drafted (it contradicts itself dozens of times and totally confuses everyone who has tried to read and understand it), the bill's sponsor Delegate Healey began the hearing by apologizing to the House Committee members for the badly drafted bill.

    Then the Committee Chair asked Delegate Healey if she was withdrawing HB 861 (noting that about two dozen people were scheduled to testify on the bill, that many other bills were on the agenda, and that it could be a long day), to which she responded by saying in a somber tone that she might withdraw the bill (but did not do so at that moment, to the apparent dismay of many/most/all Cmte members).

    I've never seen or heard a sponsor of a bill killing their own bill at a public hearing, but that's pretty much what happened (as it was obvious to all House Committee members and most everyone else in the room that the bill was dead because the bill's sponsor had nothing positive to say about it).

    Then about 3 or 4 vaping opponents testified for the bill (by trying to scare the Reps about vapor products), and then about 20 vape shop owners, vapers and I testified against the bill.

    Lobbyist John Cardin (who was hired by some MD vape shops), tobacco lobbyist Bruce Bareano and others mocked and joked about the bill's language and had everyone in the room laughing at the bill (although I suspect the bill's sponsor thought they were laughing at her, as she left the hearing shortly thereafter). AVA's Greg Conley, Vaper Edge's Ron Ward, I and others pointed out the stupidity of taxing vapor products and banning vaping.

    As the hearing proceeded, some vapers and vape shop owners gave really short testimony to save time (we were allowed 3 minutes each), and some even declined to testify, which pleased the House Cmte members (the Chair even thanked them for doing so), as it was obvious to everyone that the bill was not going to be approved by the Cmte.

    Many thanks to everyone who went to Annapolis on Wednesday. It was a very good day.

    My testimony opposing HB 861 is below

    Testimony to the Maryland House Committee on Economic Matters
    Opposing HB 861

    March 2, 2016

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

    Since 1990, Smokefree Pennsylvania has campaigned to ban smoking in workplaces, stop cigarette marketing to youth, increase cigarette taxes, hold cigarette companies accountable in civil court, and during the past decade, we’ve been informing the public that all smokefree tobacco/nicotine products 99% less hazardous than cigarettes (including nicotine gums, lozenges, patches, vapor and smokeless tobacco products).

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

    In 2009, we collaborated with 2 manufacturers that sued the FDA in federal court for unlawfully banning vapor products that were marketed to adult smokers. Since then, we helped convince 48 state legislatures to ban vapor product sales to minors.

    Since our goal is to reduce cigarette smoking, we strongly urge this committee to reject HB 861.

    In sharp contrast to fearmongering claims by vaping opponents, the scientific and empirical evidence consistently finds vapor products are 99% less harmful than cigarettes, have helped several million smokers quit smoking, and helped several million more smokers sharply reduce their cigarette consumption.

    Vapor products have replaced 5 billion cigarette packs worldwide, and are now replacing about 1 billion packs annually in the US. 99% of nicotine vapor products are consumed by smokers and by ex-smokers who switched to vaping, and vaping improves public health every time someone vapes instead of smoking a cigarette.

    The vast majority of teen vapers are also smokers or exsmokers, which has sharply reduced teen cigarette smoking to new record lows each year. Importantly, there is no evidence vapor products have ever created nicotine dependence in any nonsmoker, the MTF found teen vaping declined in 2015, and that <20% of teen vapers vaped nicotine.

    Vapor products emit trace levels of aerosol that poses no known risks to vapers or to the public. All of the following emit more indoor air pollutants than vaping, but nobody is trying to ban them.
    - every exhale by a smoker for an hour after taking a smoke break,
    - smoker’s clothes and hair,
    - cooking,
    - glues, paint,
    - carpeting and furniture,
    - printers and photocopiers,
    - household cleaning products,
    - dry cleaned clothes,
    - hair sprays, perfumes and cosmetics,
    - air fresheners, and even
    - a cup of coffee or tea.

    Many employers have found that letting workers vape at work has helped many smokers quit, increased productivity, eliminated smoke breaks, reduced absenteeism and healthcare costs. In sharp contrast to smoking bans, its impossible for government agencies to enforce workplace vaping bans.

    Vaping is also saving Maryland taxpayers millions of dollars each year by reducing smoking among Medicaid recipients.

    Instead of protecting public health, HB 861 protects cigarettes from market competition by lifesaving vapor products, punishes people for quitting smoking, encourages vapers to switch back to cigarettes, and threatens the future of vape shops in Maryland that help smokers switch.

    By redefining lifesaving vapor products as deadly cigarettes, HB 861 unethically lies about vapor products to discourage smokers from quitting smoking, and deceives the public to believe vaping is as harmful as smoking cigarettes.

    Please reject HB 861.
    • Like Like x 19
  2. pennysmalls

    pennysmalls Squonkmeister Verified Member ECF Veteran

    Jul 26, 2013
    Fantastic! Thank you Bill.
  3. choochoogranny

    choochoogranny Vaping Master ECF Veteran

    Oct 21, 2013
    chattanooga, tn, usa
    Super! Was happy to read that, Bill Godshall. Thank you.
  4. ckquatt

    ckquatt Ultra Member Verified Member ECF Veteran

    Oct 8, 2013
    Milledgeville, GA
    Awesome!!! Good job!

    Sent from my Commodore 64 using Tapatalk
  5. bsidb

    bsidb Ultra Member Verified Member ECF Veteran

    Mar 10, 2012
    Good stuff Bill, thanks:vapor:
  6. DarkfireAnn

    DarkfireAnn Full Member Verified Member

    May 29, 2014
    Planet Earth
    Was so worried I had my BIL place a HUGE order. So happy this died a quick death thank you for sharing!!!!!!

    --Happily Vapin' in MD
    • Like Like x 1
  7. LittleBird

    LittleBird Vaping Master Verified Member ECF Veteran

    Dec 7, 2014
    East Coast, USA
    I'm sorry to be late with my thanks, Bill. Thank you! If it got trounced in MD, VA is safe for awhile :)
    • Like Like x 1
  8. Endor

    Endor Super Member Verified Member ECF Veteran

    Jan 31, 2012
    Southern California
    It sure is nice to see some common sense once in a while... thanks for sharing Bill.

    I sure wish something like this would happen in the California legislature. I'd pay money to see committee members laughing Senator Leno out of the room.
    • Like Like x 2
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