On June 25, 2018, Monroe County, NY's Legislative Agenda/Charter Committee voted on a Tobacco 21 initiative. Members of the New York State Vapor Association had been actively fighting adult-restrictive vaping bills in NY counties since Nassau County went T19 years ago.
NYSVA's position is to oppose T21 initiatives because we know that 18-20 year olds go back to smoking in municipalities where they cannot legally purchase vapor products. The sad truth is, with 57% of cigarette sales purchased illegally in NY, it is simply easier to by an illegal pack, bum a "loosy," or steal from mom's purse than it is to shop in an age-restricted vape shop where customers are assertively age-verified.
Within the last year, new health groups, backed by millions from Big Pharma have popped up throughout the state (actually across the country) in a very strategic and aggressive mission: to keep 18-20 year olds from purchasing vapor products. They are well aware that it will keep them smoking longer, becoming that much harder to quit. Why? Because there is no money in prevention, only cures and that vapor products are a threat to powerful Big Pharma's business model.
When NYSVA received word that a hearing was scheduled, CASAA helped them work up a quick call to action about turning out. NYSVA called every vape shop in Monroe County the weekend to make them aware of the bill and gave them information to call, email and most importantly, show up at the hearing. They were also sent a flyer to print out and give to customers.
NYSVA's letter of written testimony with supporting scientific facts and data was sent before the hearing, and a packet of information was given to the committee at the hearing. By the time the legislators had their meeting on Monday, hundreds of Monroe vapers had called or emailed the committee, making it clear this was an issue of great importance.
NYSVA's Vice President, Andrew Osborne, owner of Vapor Trails, and member Victor Canastraro of Benevolent E-Liquids and Perfection Vapes attended the hearing to testify. While it was very unfortunate that no other vape shop owner, staff or vapers showed up, the work to oppose this legislation had started before hand. Considering that 18-20 year olds can account for from 10-45% of a shop's business, the financial impact on a vape shop can be great and T21 legislation could cause lay-offs of employees or worse.
Of 15 bills introduced so far, we are only 4-11 in New York State with many county bill introductions to go. In the future, NYSVA hopes that more vape shop owners take this threat against their businesses and their customers more seriously. With Big Pharma-funded organizations working with millions of dollars and influencing teacher, parent and student groups, with their propaganda, it's time for the industry to get behind the fight in NY.
To see how the press covered the issue, click here.