NYSVA's New York Minute...
As we predicted, after the vapor language was removed from Governor's Budget Bill, there was a seemingly never ending deluge of anti-vaping stand-along bills introduced...mostly by the typical players -- Assemblymember Rosenthal and Senator Hannon. At one point in the session, our lobbyist was tracking 28 bills that would have impacted vapor product businesses and vaping consumers negatively.
Many of these bills were introduced in years past and our board members had fought them before. However, there were three in particular that we saw "moving" this year (meaning that our lobbyist understood they had the votes needed to move them out of committees and on to the floor for a vote). Of the 28 bills, this year we were most concerned about Tobacco21, the expansion of CIAA (Clean Indoor Air Act), and licensing of vapor product retailers. According to our meetings with legislators, the taxation bill did not seem to have support in the Senate so at least that seemed it was off the table this session.
For over a month, NYSVA and CASAA issued calls to action for consumers to participate in making calls, sending emails and writing letters opposing the bills that would impact consumers the most, CIAA andTobacco21. NYSVA pushed for vape shop owners to do the same. Unfortunately, the response was not at the same level as before when fighting the omnibus budget bill. Still, NYSVA had more than 45 meetings with legislators, and follow-up meetings with the Governor's office and the Dept. of Health to oppose to these bills where we presented our Link to opposition> opposition the bill.
NYSVA presented our <link to opposition statement> opposition to Tobacco21 in our meetings, explaining that there was research confirming that in municipalities where youth access to vapor products is restricted, their smoking rates go up. At the last days of the session, it looked like the Tobacco21 bill was stalled and wouldn't be put up for a vote this session, but NYSVA believes it likely to come up again next year.
The CIAA, however, had bi-partisan support in both houses rolled over from the budget bill, and we were concerned it might pass even though we had defeated it over and over again in years past. As the only registered and recognized lobbying vaping organization in New York with a very well-known and well-respected lobbying firm in our corner, we requested--and received--a seat at the table to help determine carve-outs in case it passed.
NYSVA requests included a separation of the definition of vaping from tobacco smoking, a carve out for vape shops, and one we were especially adamant about was nursing homes. We felt strongly that the older vapers, many of whom who had smoked for many decades, should be allowed to vape in their rooms in the later year of their lives. NYSVA's position was work to kill the bill, but if it wasn't killed, at least some common sense might be applied.
As for the licensing bill that would affect vape shop owners, our board members met with key high-ranking legislators in the Senate who hold the majority, the governor's office and the Department of Health. The bill's language is not specific and if it did indeed pass into law, the governor's office and DOH asked NYSVA to provide through future meetings, some common-sense insights for its implementation.