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Late last week, the village of Hartland, Wisconsin and its favorite son, took the next bold step into the coordination process.  The Trustees, led by president Jeff Pfannerstill, and village administrator David Cox, signed and delivered a formal recommendation to advance coordination between the local and federal governments over the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s e-liquid regulations under the Tobacco Control Act. The Hartland representatives met with federal officials in the District of Columbia a little over a month ago, and now have taken a pro-active step to put the coordination talks into gear. Hearing Officer Fred Kelly Grant made recommendations to the Board on the last Monday of June, and the Board acted on the recommendation, pushing the ball into the FDA’s court.

First, Hartland reminded the FDA that the Deeming Regulations were issued in violation of several statutory mandates including the requirement that the agency coordinate with the Village as to the content of the regulations. Hartland again requested that the FDA rescind the unlawful regulations, but then addressed three specific elements that could be worked on through coordination while the rescission is taking place.

  • The Village suggested working on a protocol for deterrence of youth from beginning a smoking habit. The Trustees said that through coordination, the parties could discuss and jointly develop a deterrence protocol not through prohibitive federal regulations, but through real life testimonials from actual vapers who describe the differences in their lives between when they smoked combustible cigarettes and after vaping products helped them quit The Village Board advised FDA that they heard several very telling examples during their three-day, televised, hearing which could form the base for educational deterrence.  They expressed doubt that restrictive regulations could bring about deterrence since the law now prohibits sale and use by youth and has not worked.

 

  • The Trustees suggested that through coordination the parties encourage Johnson Creek Enterprises to develop a protocol by which each step necessary in applying for and gaining approval would be defined and cost analyzed. This would give the FDA an actual cost for analysis instead of mere speculation upon which it now relies.  Since no cost analysis was performed prior to the issuance of the regulations as it should have been, the FDA can now use that failure as a stepping stone toward a meaningful and actual analysis.

 

  • Third, the Village suggested that a tax revenue loss study be performed, with identification of repercussions from the loss of tax revenue. If the vaping industry goes out of business, or loses significant business every level of government—local, county, state and federal will lose significant tax revenues and no study of that loss has been made.  The Village suggested a cost analysis profile to include a three-dimensional view of the revenue losses. The profile would study every angle of every tax paid to every government level by every element of the business: manufacturer, retail seller, transportation, user, and all incidentals.  This tax study is vital because it raises the issue of loss of tax revenue by local governments as well as the state and federal government for the first time.

After Grant’s presentation, the Trustees discussed the recommendations and with some adjustments approved them and sent them on to the next forward step toward meaningful coordination.  During the meeting, Grant advised the Trustees that efforts were underway to help a California town from the southern part of the state to join Hartland in the field seeking coordination.  Mark Block, founder and CEO of the Electronic Vaping Coalition of America (EVCA) advised the Board that the Coalition was working in support of them and would assist in pushing coordination through southern California.  EVCA is the organization that first introduced Hartland to the concept and process of coordination which Grant has worked with successfully for nearly thirty years. Block also gave the Board an update on the bill to repeal and replace the Deeming Regulations introduced in the United States House of Representatives by Congressman Duncan Hunter of California.  Legislative relief through that bill is being pursued by EVCA while also supporting the coordination process.

David Cox has advised Grant that a local jurisdiction in another state has contacted him for information regarding the coordination process, so Hartland is being looked to as a standard bearer to move the coordination process forward.

Note: Fred Kelly Grant and Stand & Fight Club are pleased to support the efforts of the Electronic Vaping Coalition of America (EVCA) as it continues fight the assault on the vaping industry at the hands of unelected government bureaucrats and special interests. You are encouraged to visit the EVCA website or on their Facebook page to learn more, and help in the fight!

By: Fred Kelly Grant

 Plain Speaking in government ranks?  Oh, come on now!!!

After Harry Truman left the White House and went back to Independence, news columnist Mary McGrory wrote, “Since Harry Truman left town almost nobody has spoken his mind. Mr. Truman took the tradition of plain speaking back to Missouri with him.”

If Harry had been faced with vaping as a substitute for smoking tobacco, can’t you imagine him being asked at a news conference, “Mr. President, how do you feel about the government prohibiting vaping which effectively helps cut smoking and at the same time saves money on health care costs?”

Mr. Truman: “It is idiotic.”  Or “It’s just dirt dumb” Yuh think?

Government officials who seek to ban flavoring do not speak plainly.

They know the facts. They know banning flavoring will cripple the vaping industry. They know that will end the most effective, safest alternative to cigarette smoking. They know the health care costs that result from smoking. They know how many people die each year from tobacco related causes. But no plain speaking about any of that.

Instead, they talk about how flavors attract and tempt the young, under 21 group from rushing headlong into getting hooked. And, friends, to quote my late uncle Phel Grantham of Grantham Corners South Carolina, “That is pure hogwash!”

What pray tell was “pure” hogwash? I guess the closest I could come in non-Grantham Corners lingo is, if you’ll forgive and overlook an obvious play on words, “It’s just a smokescreen, a total smokescreen!”

The law already makes it illegal to sell the e-liquid and devices to anyone under 21 in California. Every store I have visited sports a “No one under 21” sign. So, if prohibition works, why is it necessary to ban flavors? Why isn’t it enough to simply have the “not under 21” law on the books? Why does anyone think that a ban on flavoring will prevent access by youth to smoking or vaping any more than does the “not under 21”.

Point of fact, in plain speaking as to youth: if a 17-year-old decides she is going to smoke, her aunt, her older sister or cousin, her older boy friend will oblige and buy for her. And, if vaping is eliminated, there is no game in town except combustible cigarettes and the dependence that usually follows.  And, federal law prohibits any attempt to ban cigarettes! But, even if they could be banned, our prospective smoker would be supplied by the black market.

Anyone around old enough to have experienced prohibition of alcohol in this country? Probably not with enough memory to reconstruct it. But surely there are people who have read about it – alcohol production was banned because the American Christian Temperance Union was strong enough to have booze banned. The result? Booze flowed like water. It was made in good clean laboratories and it was made in rusty old bath-tubs – and it all sold at a gosh-awful price, raking in disgraceful profits for the criminal syndicate that operated the underground alcohol business

In fact, no one event fed growth of the criminal syndicate in this nation more than prohibition. It was illegal to make it, to possess it, and to drink it.  Thus, the attraction was novel and greater – and we had more drunks than any time in our history.

Just plain speaking: prohibition produced drunks and huge profits to finance crime.

Even more just plain speaking: banning flavors will produce huge profits to finance crime.

That’s just plain speaking bad public policy. Yuh think?

The plain-speaking truth is that it is all about the money.

Governments have become addicted to tobacco settlement funds. They are so sickly addicted that they can’t satisfy their general fund appropriations without the tobacco money. They gushed over it at the beginning, sold bonds on the expected windfall from future tobacco settlement money, and spent those bond sales like the money was going out of style.

Now, however, the bonds are coming due, and these spendthrift governments do not have the money to redeem the bonds and fund basic government functions. They are caught between a rock and a hard place—-and nowhere to go but back to the well and draw some more money furnished by those who buy tobacco and die from it.

We have reached the idiotic position at which our governments thrive on money furnished by people smoking their lives away, and prohibit a product that would end cigarette dependence and save human lives.

Our governments prefer to let people die and so they can get their money, rather than lose that money and allow people to live.

In the marvelously clever Pogo comic strips, the artist/author hit the nail on the head when he used an historic phrase, turned it into swamp character talk and voila we had, “We has met the enemy and he is us.”

And that my friends, fits the plain speaking we need for the governments that would ban flavors and destroy vaping.  “WE HAS MET THE ENEMY, AND HE IS US.”

Yuh think?

Note: Fred Kelly Grant and Stand & Fight Club are pleased to support the efforts of the Electronic Vaping Coalition of America (EVCA) as it continues fight the assault on the vaping industry at the hands of unelected government bureaucrats and special interests. You are encouraged to visit the EVCA website or on their Facebook page to learn more, and help in the fight!

By Fred Kelly Grant

How ironic that in the 50th Anniversary of the Love Summer, San Francisco’s elected officials slammed shut the door to freedom of choice.  After a hearing before an overflow crowd, a Committee of the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to recommend passage of the ordinance banning the sale of flavored e-liquid for vaping devices.

Mark Block, founder and CEO of Electronic Vaping Coalition of America, testified as he had in Contra Costa the day before. That County Board delayed action to have staff clear up vagueness. Block pointed out that vaping does provide the effective way to get off cigarettes, and that passage of this Ordinance violates the Fourteenth Amendment that guarantees equal and fair treatment.

Today he heads for southern California where maybe saner heads will  prevail and separate the vaping from smoking.

What the action in San Francisco means is that people who choose to get off cigarette smoke and save their health and lives are out of luck in the city which was once the epitome of freedom. Evidence is overwhelming that if flavoring is banned, the vape shops will either go out of business or lose so much business that they will close eventually.  Evidence is also overwhelming that vapers will not stay with the product if there is no flavoring—-and many will drift back to the slow death that comes from smoking cigarettes. Sad but true.

And what is really sad about it is that it comes in the city that has been the beacon for free thinking alternative life styles and ways of life for at least a hundred years. Just fifty years ago, the Love Summer marveled all of America. Scott McKenzie’s song “San Francisco (Be sure to wear flowers in your hair) became a major hit; it was written by John Phillips of the Mamas and the Papas. Haight Asbury bands like the Grateful Dead, Big Brother and the Holding Company, and Jefferson Airplane rose to the top of the charts. Janis Joplin lived near the intersection of Haight and Asbury streets and became a household name whether the house held “hippies” or not.

Long after the Love Summer ended, the Haight turned out some of the most colorful comedians such as Robin Williams, Whoopi Goldberg, and Dana Carvey. The stars of alternative ideas and thoughts and ways of life came from this Golden City; it was a city that the rest of us in America envied—often because we did not have the nerve to live life as it was lived in San Francisco.

The spirits of those that turned the Castro into the beginning of a free-wheeling, free thinking Baghdad of the Bay must be turning in their resting places. The legacy of mayors Alioto, Mosconi, Brown, Agnos called for better than what the committee did. Those men had the spirit to open doors to minorities and women to jobs and promotions so that San Francisco became the “liberal leader” of America. When Dianne Feinstein is the most conservative mayor in a span of thirty years, you know how liberal was this city even if you didn’t follow it.

Mosconi saved the Giants from moving to Toronto and if nothing else he had done, that fact alone would have made him beloved to Giants fans everywhere  He was a revolutionary mayor who appointed large numbers of women, gay men, lesbians and racial minorities to city commissions and advisory boards. He also was the first to agree that a court enter a judgment ending discriminatory recruiting practices by the police department, a first big such move in the nation. He supported an occupation sit-in of the Federal Building by 100 disabled people demanding their civil rights; while the feds wanted to starve them out, Mosconi took in portable showers and towels and food. The sit-in got results, and eventually is credited with passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Alioto, Agnos, and Brown all championed in one way or another finding suitable facilities for the homeless while other cities continued to shunt them from place to place. All  endured strikes from city and county personnel and found a way to mediate them and get better benefits for them, including coverage of domestic partners for health benefits. All continued and furthered the hiring and promotion of all nationalities, sexual preferences and races—to the point where San Francisco was the melting pot model for all America.

Free speech, free living, free choices of alternatives—this was San Francisco. Writers have portrayed the San Francisco scene as the freest there was in the counter culture of the 60’s for example, providing the natural spot for nurturing all differing interpretations of the American Dream

As an inhabitant of Boise, Idaho, and even having had experiences in Chicago and Baltimore, San Francisco was my ideal as an  American experience.  Whenever I could, I read Herb Caen of the Chronicle (and I still read Wilie Brown’s column) and listened to KGO at night—I remember Caen’s coverage off and on of the legendary Magnolia Thunderpussy, a San Francisco native and burlesque queen who has been described as “something of a cross between a den mother to San Francisco weirdos and a proto-Bette Midler”. Her place at 1398 Haight Street was legendary; featured briefly in the Jack Nicholson movie Psyche Out, you can be sure it could have been a vape shop had vaping even been in existence.

At stake yesterday was the freedom of choice of people who want to escape the dregs of cigarette smoking with the use of e-liquid and vaping devices  The Committee took away that freedom—-in a city whose entire history is built on free thinking, free wheeling, live and let live openness.

It has been proven that cigarette smoking is addictive to large parts of diverse minority populations.  Vaping would offer an effective, safe escape for the diverse populations of the Mission District, Bernal Heights, Potrero Hill, the Castro, the Excelsior District, the Sunset District, the Richmond, Chinatown, and Forest Hill. But neither they nor anyone else in the city/county can buy flavored e-liquid after the Ordinance is passed finally.

Sad that here in this beautiful city of freedom, the axe of arbitrary, autocratic political dictatorship fell today. And why? Money is the answer—money from the big tobacco settlement by which the big companies managed to buy their way out of huge tort cases in which people dying from tobacco exposure were cashiered out, and those not yet in court torn from their claims by a monetary settlement.

Tragic also are the excuses given for passage of the Ordinance. Supervisor Cohen who is sponsor of the ordinance represents a huge African American population in Bayview Hunters Point, said that she was driven by her experience with family members who smoked menthol cigarettes and died of cancer. But, Supervisor Cohen, no one has died of cancer from vaping; it provides the only effective, safe way for people to kick the cigarette habit. With your experiences you should be welcoming vaping, and the flavoring that makes it successful as an alternative to smoking cigarettes and death.

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee endorsed the proposal. “We know from research and studies that tobacco-related diseases continue to be the No. 1 cause of preventable deaths, especially among low-income and minority communities,” he said. But again, vaping is the answer to these statistics because it gets people OFF CIGARETTES.

Those elected officials who profess to protect the cause of minorities and low-income folks should be lining up to back vaping, because it is the soul and life saver of all those folks who want to get off the cigarette road to death. One would think that in this city of ideas the elected officials would have done some research. The Trustees of the small Village of Hartland, Wisconsin did their homework, and learned of the great health value of vaping to all those who want to avoid poor health and death from cigarettes. The elected Supervisors of San Francisco would do well to read their Findings and Conclusions. One might be surprised to know that a Village in mid Wisconsin is more enlightened today than the venerable Supervisors of San Francisco.

And, as to the statements by Supervisor Cohen and Mayor Lee, trying to pass off vaping as the same as cigarettes, in the colorful words of that venerable veteran of politics Representative Elijah Cummings of Maryland “Oh come onnnn now! Y’all know better.”

The reason lies not with the merits of the ordinance as applied to vaping; the reason is that California, like all other states, is addicted to money from the tobacco settlement—it has used that money as the constant staple for appropriations for annual budgets.  And the cities know that their money interests are at stake if they buck the tide that runs out of Sacramento.

450,000 lives lost every year from tobacco causes don’t seem to matter to local officials—perhaps it would be therapeutic for the Supervisors to get the opportunity to meet with relatives of this year’s deaths and explain to them why they are so adamant about closing down the opportunity to escape death at the hands of cigarettes.

As vaping sales go up, tobacco sales go down. And, since most local officials are not as up to date as are their constituents, they haven’t yet seen the tax benefits of vaping—particularly when measured against medical and health costs from cigarette smoking. If the vaping business goes under, a tremendous tax revenue will be lost to the cities. Once that has happened, there will be council people and supervisors and trustees all over the land wringing their hands, crying out “who did this to us”.

“Oh come onnnnn now!”