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February 25, 2016
By Kristin Noll-Marsh
West Allis, WI — Last week, news came through social media that West Allis was considering two ordinances regarding vape shops and vaping. At first, both proposed ordinances seemed relatively benign. One required vape shops to carry a license at the cost of $100 per annum. The other appeared to only prohibit the use of vapor products on West Allis school grounds. However, after the language was reviewed by WSAC, it was determined that the latter actually banned vaping in all places smoking is currently prohibited by state law, including school grounds and vape shops. This was accomplished by adding language to the existing ordinance that redefined “smoking” to include the use of all vapor products. WSAC also discovered that the February 23rd West Allis Licensing & Health Committee meeting was receiving a presentation by Sue Marten, the Coalition Coordinator for Tobacco-Free Suburban Milwaukee & Ozaukee Counties and the Wisconsin Tobacco Prevention and Control Program.
Jim Cottrill, owner of Vape 108 in West Allis, was preparing for a 10-day trip to warmer weather when he heard the news. “I dropped everything,” said Mr. Cottrill. Instead, he got online and on the phone to discover when the meeting was and whether or not the Committee would be allowing public comments. Then he took the information he had gathered to vape groups on Facebook, encouraging other shop owners to attend the meeting and customers to call or write their Aldermen.
After speaking to the Committee Chair, he (and only he) was given permission to address the Committee for just five minutes at the meeting, following Ms. Marten’s presentation. “He clearly stated to me that there would not be any opportunity for us to be involved in any type of debate and that it would be opened at a later meeting,” Cottrill told WSAC. However, he was disappointed when he found himself completely alone at the meeting Tuesday night. “I was severely saddened to see that no other owners felt this important enough to take time out of their busy lives,” he said.
The meeting itself turned out to be more than he expected. “After [Marten] did a Power Point presentation that spoke of all the dangers of vaping, she handed out e-cigarettes that appeared to be cheap devices from gas stations and a Vuse [the electronic cigarette made by RJ Reynolds.] As she handed them out, she warned the Committee to be sure to wash their hands after touching them, because ‘they are extremely toxic’,” said an incredulous Cottrill. At that point, Cottrill reported that everyone at the Committee table was wide-eyed and seemed to be in agreement that something had to be done.
Then came Cottrill’s five minutes.
He spoke from the heart and from his viewpoint as a shop owner. “I told them that I hadn’t experienced anything like [Marten] had said. I’ve had so many customers who have quit smoking because of vaping and thank me.”
Cottrill also pointed out that prohibiting vaping in vape shops, which is what he sells, would be like prohibiting drinking in a tavern. He told them that vape shops need to allow vaping and the shops in West Allis would be forced to move outside of the city, taking their business and customers with them.
At that point, Cottrill’s five minutes were up, but to his surprise, the Committee members started asking him questions. “After that, only one Committee member still supported the ordinances, but only if vape shops were exempted from the indoor ban. The others stated that they were not convinced by the studies that she had given them and said that businesses should be able to decide whether or not to allow vaping in their establishment, not the government. One even said he didn’t want to make it harder for smokers to quit. Then they put both ordinances on hold until the other six Aldermen can see the data.”
While this may only be a temporary stay, Cottrill is convinced that it would have moved forward that night, had he not been there to speak up. “The way they were acting after her presentation, they looked convinced [that the measures were reasonable] until I talked to them,” he said.
As far as we’re concerned. by stepping up and showing that one voice can make a difference, Mr. Cottrill deserves the gratitude of the vaping community in West Allis. Hopefully, other vape shop owners and their customers will follow his example in the future.
WSAC will continue to monitor the situation in West Allis and issue a Call to Action alert should these ordinances be placed on a future agenda.
On Monday, August 10th, a proposed ordinance that would amend the regulations related to smoking, including the use of electronic delivery devices in the City of Janesville, and expand the outdoor areas on City property where smoking and the use of electronic delivery devices is prohibited via ordinance to include all City premises, including, any premises containing a building, parking ramp or lot, or park or trail controlled by the City, was introduced. An exemption would be created to permit the use of electronic smoking devices in a retail establishment for which one of the primary purposes is the sale on the premises of electronic delivery devices and accessories.
The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network advocates for smoke-free laws, including electronic delivery devices and supposed nicotine-free electronic delivery devices, in all workplaces to protect workers and the public form the harmful effects of secondhand exposure and states that preliminary studies indicate that nonusers can be exposed to the same potentially harmful chemicals as users, including nicotine, ultrafine particles and volatile organic compounds, which could be especially problematic for children, pregnant women, and people with heart disease.
A public hearing is scheduled for August 24th at 6:00 PM in the Council Chambers on floor four of City Hall, 18 N Jackson Street in downtown Janesville. There will be a public hearing on this topic so, during the meeting, the Council President will ask if anyone would like to speak. You can go to either podium, state your name and address and speak to this topic.
Please download, print and hand out the flyer below to fellow vapers and vape shops!
Please check back frequently for updates and also join the Wisconsin Smoke-free Alternatives Coalition on Facebook!
The public is welcome (and strongly encouraged) to attend these meetings and address the lawmakers with their concerns and comments. Arrive early to sign up on the registration form to speak.
1) Email and call the mayor and other members of the City of Janesville City Council (listed below) to explain why you oppose efforts to ban e-cigarettes wherever smoking is prohibited, and (2) attend any meetings and offer testimony in opposition to efforts to define smoke-free e-cigarette use as smoking (see Suggested Talking Points listed below.)
2) Contact local media (television station producers and newspaper editors) to tell your story and explain why this ordinance is bad for public health and actually encourages smokers to keep smoking.
3) Post comments on online news stories about this proposed ordinance; telling your story and why you oppose the ordinance (see partial list below.)
4) For social networking users, the Twitter and Facebook accounts for the City Council have also been included with their contact information. Let them know how you feel!
5) Share this blog post on your social media (Facebook, Twitter, Google +) and in any area vaping groups. Get your supportive family members and frioends to also share!
6) Contact all of your local vape shops and let them know that they need to fight this ordinance (no more vaping in their shop.) Retailers can contact their customers, make them aware of the proposed ordinance and get them to attend hearings.
7) Even if you do not wish to speak publicly, be sure to attend meetings and rallies as an audience member to show a strong, united front and to make clear to the media and lawmakers that such actions are hurting real people.
(See Massachusetts town snuffs out tobacco ban after outcry as an example of what a strong show of opposition can do, but please always remain calm and respectful. What ultimately changed changed minds in this case was the sheer numbers of people showing up, not the disruption of the proceedings.)
As a sign of respect, we request that you refrain from vaping during any meetings with lawmakers and/or media (unless requested), avoid the use of “vape slang” (ie. “juice”) and foul language, and act in an otherwise respectful manner.
DOCUMENTATION AND LINKS
SUGGESTED TALKING POINTS
1. You are a Janesvile-area or Wisconsin resident and you oppose banning e-cigarette use where smoking is prohibited. (If you are responding to this Call to Action and are not a state resident, please mention any connection you have to the area, for example, you travel to Madison on vacation or have friends/family in the area.)
2. Tell your story on how switching to an e-cigarette has changed your life. (Avoid using slang terms such as “juice.”)
3. Clarify that:
a. Smoking bans are ostensibly enacted to protect the public from the harm of secondhand smoke, but e-cigarettes have not been found to pose a risk to bystanders. In fact, all evidence to date shows that the low health risks associated with e-cigarettes are comparable to other smokeless nicotine products.
b. The low risks of e-cigarettes is supported by research done by Dr. Siegel of Boston University, Dr. Eissenberg of Virginia Commonwealth, Dr Maciej L Goniewicz of the Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Dr. Laugesen of Health New Zealand, Dr. Igor Burstyn of Drexel University, and by the fact that the FDA testing, in spite of its press statement, failed to find harmful levels of carcinogens or toxic levels of any chemical in the vapor.
c. A comprehensive review conducted by Dr. Igor Burstyn of Drexel University School of Public Health based on over 9,000 observations of e-cigarette liquid and vapor found “no apparent concern” for bystanders exposed to e-cigarette vapor, even under “worst case” assumptions about exposure. All other studies finding “toxins” have been greatly exaggerated.
d. Electronic cigarette use is easy to distinguish from actual smoking. Although some e-cigarettes resemble real cigarettes, many do not. It is easy to tell when someone lights a cigarette from the smell of smoke. E-cigarette vapor is practically odorless, and generally any detectable odor is not unpleasant and smells nothing like smoke. Additionally, e-cigarette users can decide whether to release any vapor (“discreet vaping”). With so little evidence of use, enforcing use bans on electronic cigarettes would be nearly impossible.
e. The ability to use electronic cigarettes in public spaces will actually improve public health by inspiring other smokers to switch and reduce their health risks by an estimated 99%.
f. Losing the ability to test e-liquids before purchasing will have a significant and negative impact on your ability to purchase/sell e-liquids.
g. Many smokers first try e-cigarettes because they can use them where they cannot smoke, however, they often become “accidental quitters.” This is a documented phenomenon unique to e-cigarettes. It may take a few months or only a few days, but they inevitably stop smoking conventional cigarettes. This is why including e-cigarettes in smoking bans could have serious unintended consequences!
h. By making e-cigarette users go outdoors, the City will also be sending a strong message to traditional smokers that e-cigarettes are no safer than smoking. This will actually maintain the number of smokers in Janesville, rather than help reduce smoking. This is a far more realistic risk to public health than any unfounded concerns about possible youth or non-smoker use uptake.
In fact, the most recent report by the CDC showed that the dramatic increase in e-cigarette use over that past 3 years has not led to an increase in youth smoking. Youth smoking of traditional cigarttes continues to decline to record low levels.
i. The children of smoking parents are far more likely to become smokers than the children of non-smoking parents who see smoking behaviors in public. The children of smoking parents who quit aren’t any more likely to smoke than those of non-smoking parents. Prohibiting vapor products in public does little to protect the children of non-smoking parents from becoming smokers, but significantly increases the likelihood that many smoking parents won’t switch to e-cigarettes. This only serves to keep the highest-risk children at risk.
j. E-cigarette use does not promote the smoking of traditional cigarettes, nor does it threaten the gains of tobacco control over the past few decades. In fact, by normalizing e-cigarette use over traditional smoking, the efforts of tobacco control are being supported. If anything, e-cigarette usedenormalizes conventional smoking by setting the example of smokers choosing a far less harmful alternative to traditional smoking. The CDC surveys clearly show that there has been no “gateway effect” causing non-smokers to start smoking. As e-cigarettes have become more popular, all available evidence is showing that more and more smokers are quitting traditional cigarettes, including youth smokers.
k. IMPORTANT NOTE: A typical and frequent lawmaker response to e-cigarette users who object to public use bans is “We aren’t banning all use or sales, just use where smoking is also prohibited.”
Don’t give them the opportunity to counter you in that way! Make it very clear that you understand that this is not a ban of e-cigarette sales or a ban of e-cigarette use where smoking is allowed, but that what IS proposed is still a step backward in public health, not a step forward.
You can click send an email to the entire City Council at firstname.lastname@example.org or mail to:
Post Office Box 5005
Janesville, WI, 53547-5005
Or contact each member directly (best)
Doug Marklein, Council President
Doug Marklein, Council President
As of August 1st, all NTC campuses banned tobacco on campus, including chewing tobacco and E-cigarettes. NTC staff sees this as a way to protect student health.
(MADISON) – Rep. Debra Kolste (D-Janesville) is circulating legislation that would add vapor devices (being called “Electronic Smoking Devices (ESDs)” by the sponsor) to Wisconsin’s indoor smoking ban, Kolste, a Democrat, represents the 44th Assembly District, which mainly consists of the city of Janesville.
Sponsors are claiming that vapor products contain harmful levels of “toxins” found in traditional cigarettes, including higher levels of nickel and other toxic chemicals like lead and zinc. They claim research shows that these toxins are released into the air as secondhand e-cigarette “smoke,” although the levels at which they are found are highly unlikely to pose any health risks to the user, let alone to bystanders.
“Allowing the use of ESDs in establishments that fall under the state’s smoke-free laws undermines the very purpose of the smoking ban,” said Kolste. “The legislature passed the smoking ban to protect public safety, and allowing people to use e-cigarettes in smoke-free venues directly contradicts Wisconsin’s efforts to create healthier indoor environments for workers and patrons alike.”
The World Health Organization recommends that ESDs not be used indoors in order to minimize the risk of exposure to second-hand e-cigarette smoke. However, dozens of health experts have called the WHO to task for spreading disinformation about vapor products.
According to the press release, an analysis by the US Food and Drug Administration found that nearly one-third of adverse-event reports for ESDs are related to secondhand exposure. Although there are an estimated 2.5 million vapor product consumers in the U.S., there were only 33 complaints by non-users nationwide, which were not verified by the agency.
“It only makes sense to close this e-cigarette loophole and honor the intent behind Wisconsin’s indoor smoking ban,” Kolste said. “It’s time we extinguish the use of e-cigarettes in indoor establishments.”
“Actually, the purpose of state’s smoke-free laws is to protect the public specifically from smoke, not vapor. The ‘intent’ of the law was to protect people from actual harm. There is no such evidence that e-cigarette vapor is a hazard to the users, let alone to bystanders,” said Kristin Noll-Marsh, of the Wisconsin Smoke-free Alternatives Coalition (WSAC). WSAC is a loosely-formed, grassroots organization that works to assure the availability and affordability of smoke-free products, such as e-cigarettes, for adult smokers.
“Lawmakers are exaggerating the levels of chemicals that have been detected in some of the vapor products,” Noll-Marsh said. “Simply detecting a chemical does not mean that product is automatically harmful. If you look closely enough, you can find chemicals that are toxic at higher levels in everyday products we consider safe – like flouride and sodium. You have to prove that there is even something to be protected from before you try to ban it’s use in public. That has not been established at all.”
“This is an unscientific witch hunt, unapologetically lobbied by special interest groups that receive funding from companies that make competing products. By the time these groups are proven to be wrong -at least to their satisfaction – it will be too late. Millions of smokers across the country will be dead, because they believed this misinformation and just kept smoking.”
Noll-Marsh testified in Madison in early 2014 in support of Senator Glenn Grothman’s bill to exclude vapor products from the state’s smoking ban. She says she was told by several lawmakers at the time that there was no need for such a law, because no one was trying to prohibit public use.
“I told them [the laws] were coming and now they have. It makes no sense to ban the public use of products that contain less harmful chemicals than the typical indoor air at a restaurant and are reducing the smoke exposure to smokers and their families. More smokers using vapor products indoors means less smokers stand outside on the sidewalk. It’s also a great incentive to get smokers to switch,” Noll-Marsh noted.
WSAC plans to unite consumers and their families from all over the state to fight the ban, she says.
For more information,contact:
Wisconsin Smoke-free Alternatives Coalition
By Matthew Simon, email@example.com
Published On: Jan 06 2015 10:46:35 PM CST
“You don’t want someone putting something in the air next to you without your permission, without knowing what it is. It helps protect your personal health,” District 3 Alder Lauren Cnare, who sponsored the move, said.
The rule change applies to any public place where a cigarette cannot be smoked, such as a restaurant, shopping mall and workplaces.
Those attending the meeting in support of the move echoed Cnare’s point that not enough is known about what’s inside of the unregulated vapor.
“I don’t want to be at dinner and wondering what is in the aerosol in the e-cigarette next to us and if it could be harming our children,” mom Margarita Northrop said.
“Madison residents have come to expect going to restaurants and bars that have smoke-free air. This debate has nothing to do with individual use,” The American Cancer Society’s Sara Sahli said.
But that individual use, specifically how vaping has aided their ability to quit smoking, is at the heart of the issue for opponents….
Grothe, who operates e-cigarette stores in Oshkosh and Appleton, asked his employees to step outside the restaurant to “vape,” as the kids call it these days, rather than fill the restaurant with clouds of scented exhaust.
“Some people don’t care about anyone but themselves and will blow large clouds of vapor inside places,” Grothe said. “Do that at home if you want to, but not in a public place. We should be respectful of others, but not all people are respectful.”
The personal courtesy that Grothe and his employees showed could become a legal requirement in Winnebago County if public health officials get their way.
In the short term, Health Department Director Doug Gieryn wants the Winnebago County Board consider enacting ordinances that would restrict use of e-cigarettes in county buildings and vehicles. The longer term goal is a general ban on their use in bars, restaurants and other businesses and public places in much the same way the statewide smoking ban prohibits smoking.