October 22, 2018

Sacramento Flavor Ban Public Hearing on Tuesday

A Sacramento City Council committee will hear public testimony on a proposed e-liquid flavor ban on Tuesday, Oct. 23, at 3:00 p.m. The meeting will be held at the council chamber, on the first floor of the city hall, at 915 I Street.

Vapers, business owners, and other interested parties will be able to address the Law and Legislation Committee. The committee will be considering the proposed ban, which has already been the subject of a raucous meeting with local business owners, many of them convenience and grocery store owners who are very engaged in the fight against a ban (see video).

Stefan Didak of Not Blowing Smoke is organizing vaping opposition to the ban, and is suggesting that those who wish to give testimony be prepared to speak for one minute. Be sure to make the point that flavors are a crucial element in making vaping effective for you. Most non-vapers don’t understand how important flavors are in keeping former smokers off cigarettes.

Vapers attending the meeting are encouraged to meet outside at 2:00 p.m. to discuss strategy for the meeting. The idea is to make sure that those who want to speak get to the front of the room in a timely manner, and spectators enter behind them. And keep an eye on the Not Blowing Smoke site for any updates on the hearing.

Those who don’t want to speak publicly should still attend. Because Sacramento is the capitol of California, the hearing will likely receive press coverage, and turnout by those opposing the ban will be noted not just by the council members, but by the news media and state officials. Organized opposition makes an impression on people who might think future flavor bans will be painless exercises of power.

If you’re a Sacramento resident, please take the time today to send a message to your city council member using the CASAA call to action link.

California has seen an epidemic of near-identical proposed flavor bans since San Francisco voters upheld their city’s prohibition of e-liquid and tobacco flavors in June. Anti-vaping advocates promised then that flavor bans would spread following that win, and they’ve kept their promise.

Following the strategy used to ban public smoking, tobacco control groups promote flavor bans in California cities as grassroots efforts. But California’s tobacco control organizations are wealthy, organized, and supported by state agencies and the powerful University of California system. The impetus for these bans is not coming from ordinary Californians, but from these groups.

Local laws often use templates created by so-called “public interest” lawyers, which operate in close cooperation with the state’s massive, cigarette sales-funded tobacco control infrastructure. As with public smoking bans and Tobacco 21 laws, the goal is to ban “tobacco product” flavors city by city, until eventually a statewide ban can be sold as a solution to an unworkable patchwork of laws.

There will be no stopping this trend without direct action. Vapers and vaping business owners and employees need to reengage in the process, and be prepared to protest and stand up for vaping. Lack of engagement will empower politicians who are always looking for easy battles to win. It’s up to vapers to make them work hard to score points off us — and hopefully to make them lose.

Smokers created vaping without any help from the tobacco industry or anti-smoking crusaders, and vapers have the right to keep 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 recently joined 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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