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January 18, 2021
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Urgent Calls to Action: Kansas, Maryland, North Dakota

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Jim McDonald

Three newly proposed anti-vaping laws need action by vapers and vaping businesses in Kansas, Maryland and North Dakota. It is much easier to stop a bill early in the process—by showing strong opposition while it is still being studied and heard in a committee—than waiting until it is voted on by the whole body of a legislature, when opinions are usually already formed.

Most readers in North Dakota will not see this article until after the Jan. 19 morning committee hearing. However, messages to the state senate opposing restrictions on vaping can never hurt, even if the bill has been approved by the committee or does not pass.

Kansas: flavor ban

The Kansas House is considering HB 2061, which would ban sales of flavored (other than tobacco) vaping products.

The bill is not scheduled for a hearing yet, but CASAA is urging vapers to make their opposition known now, before the bill gains traction during a shortened legislative session. As in many states, the Kansas legislature may move bills quickly because of the coronavirus-shortened session.

Maryland: flavor ban, online sales ban, and more

The State Senate is considering SB 273, which would ban flavored vaping products (aside from tobacco) and online sales. The bill imposes other restrictions as well, which can be seen in the CASAA call to action linked below.

The senate finance committee is holding a hearing Jan. 28 at 1:00 p.m., at which testimony will be heard by invitation only. It’s important for vaping advocates to contact their state senators now.


North Dakota: 28% tax

The State Senate’s Finance and Taxation Committee is considering SB 2189, which would impose a 28 percent tax on vaping products sold in the state.

A committee hearing on the senate bill will be held Tuesday, Jan. 19 at 9:30 a.m. You can send comments up to an hour before the hearing—but even emails received after the hearing may be helpful. Follow the link below to make your comment.


How to stop harmful vaping laws

With 2021 state legislative sessions now opening, vapers should expect to see many new bills introduced that will, if passed, restrict access to vaping products or make them more expensive. This year, with Tobacco 21 a done deal, advocates expect the primary focus of anti-vaping activists to be flavor bans and taxes. Outright vape bans that prohibit sales are not needed for opponents to destroy vaping; we can lose it one step at a time.

The Consumer Advocates for Smoke-Free Alternatives Association (CASAA) tracks state legislation and issues calls to action that make it easy for consumers to respond. If you join CASAA—which is free—you will get an email when a call to action is issued for your state or city. (Disclosure: I am a CASAA board member.)

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, many state legislatures are shortening their sessions, taking testimony remotely (usually via Zoom), and limiting the number of people allowed to testify. (CASAA and trade group SFATA collaborated on a recent webinar that offers advice to people testifying in virtual hearings.) Because of these weird circumstances, bills may be more likely to appear suddenly and move through the process quickly. That makes it doubly important that vaping advocates build networks in their states to disseminate legislative news quickly.

The key to avoiding harmful anti-vaping laws is early and repeated engagement by people in the affected states or localities—the constituents of the legislators who vote on the bills. The best outcome is to stop bills before they’re approved by a committee, and that requires vapers and vaping businesses to get involved, respond to legislators, and spread the word to others who will respond. There is no substitute for personal engagement by large numbers of vaping stakeholders.

This year it's unlikely that Vaping360 will be able to amplify as many CASAA calls to action as we have in years past, just because of the large number being introduced and speed at which it's happening. It’s more important than ever that vapers spread the word: alert friends in affected states or cities, post calls to action on social media, and contact CASAA directly if you hear of a local law that has been proposed.

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Jim McDonald

Vaping since: 12 years

Favorite products:

Favorite flavors: RY4-style tobaccos, fruits

Expertise in: Political and legal challenges, tobacco control haters, moral panics

Jim McDonald

Smokers created vaping without help from the tobacco industry or anti-smoking crusaders, and I believe vapers have the right to continue innovating to help themselves. My goal is to provide clear, honest information about the challenges vaping faces from lawmakers, regulators, and brokers of disinformation. I’m a member of the CASAA board, but my opinions aren’t necessarily CASAA’s, and vice versa. You can find me on Twitter @whycherrywhy

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