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On July 5, 2016, the West Allis Common Council voted to pass an ordinance that would significantly affect vaping and the sale of vapor products. Ordinance file number O-2016-0011 creates Section 9.36 of the West Allis Revised Municipal Code Relating to Electronic Smoking Device Sales 1) includes the use of vapor products in the City’s smoking ban; 2) requires a license for the sale of vapor products; 3) bans the sale of vapor products (including non-nicotine) to minors; and 4) prohibits vending machine and self-service sales.
It has come to our attention that this decision could be reversed IF one of the aldermen who voted for the ordinance requests a “reconsideration vote” at the upcoming Common Council meeting on August 2nd. We urge members to contact the aldermen who voted to pass this ordinance BEFORE TUESDAY, AUGUST 2nd, to urge them to consider the facts and request a reconsideration vote!
1) Email and call the members of the West Allis Common Council to explain why you oppose efforts to ban the use of vapor products where smoking is prohibited. (See Suggested Talking Points 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 that could be found for the Committee 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.
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 LINK
Video of July 5, 2016 Common Council meeting (vaping discussion begins around 33:00)
West Allis bans e-cigarette smoking where tobacco smoking is banned
SUGGESTED TALKING POINTS
1. You are a West Allis-area or Wisconsin resident and you oppose banning vapor product 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 West Allis on vacation or have friends/family in the area.)
2. Tell your story on how switching to an vapor product 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 vapor products have not been found to pose a risk to bystanders. In fact, all evidence to date shows that the low health risks associated with vapor productss are comparable to other smokeless nicotine products.
b. The very low risks of vapor products 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, Public Health England 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 vapor product liquid and vapor found “no apparent concern” for bystanders exposed to vapor, even under “worst case” assumptions about exposure.
d. Electronic cigarette use is easy to distinguish from actual smoking. Although some vapor products resemble real cigarettes, many do not. It is easy to tell when someone lights a cigarette from the smell of smoke. Vapor is practically odorless, and generally any detectable odor is not unpleasant and smells nothing like smoke. Additionally, vapor product users can decide whether to release any vapor (“discreet vaping”). With so little evidence of use, enforcing use bans on vapor products 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. Many smokers first try vapor products because they can use them where they cannot smoke, however, they often become “accidental quitters.” This is a documented phenomenon unique to vapor products. It may take a few months or only a few days, but they inevitably stop smoking conventional cigarettes. This is why including vapor products in smoking bans could have serious unintended consequences!
h. By prohibiting vapor product use even outdoors, the City will also be sending a strong message to traditional smokers that vapor products are no safer than smoking. This will actually maintain the number of smokers in West Allis 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 invapor product 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 on County outdoor properties 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 vapor products. This only serves to keep the highest-risk children at risk.
j. Vapor product 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 vapor product use over traditional smoking, the efforts of tobacco control are being supported. If anything, vapor products use denormalizes 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 vapor products have become more popular, all available evidence is showing that more and more smokers are quitting traditional cigarettes, including youth smokers.
k. This ordinance will send potential business to surrounding areas that allow businesses to choose for themselves wheter or not they want to cater to patrons who use the products. Additionally, businesses that allow the use of vapor products inside are less likely to have patrons causing a noise nuisence or litter outside of the establishment.
l. Encourage them to hold off on these drastic, excessive measures until they have the opportunity to see the new film “A Billion Lives,” which will expose the truth about these products and their efficacy.
m. Important Note: A typical and frequent lawmaker response to vapor product 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 vapor product sales or a ban of vapor product use where smoking is allowed, but that what IS proposed is still a step backward in public health, not a step forward. Forcing former smokers to use a smoke-free, tobacco-free harm reduction product while surrounded by others smoking combustible cigarettes only increases the odds that they will return to smoking themsleves!
Mayor Dan Devine
West Allis City Hall
7525 W. Greenfield Ave
West Allis, WI 53214
Phone: (414) 302-8290
Email: Email Mayor’s Office
Cathleen M. Probst (District 2)
1959 S 79 St
West Allis, WI 53219
Home: (414) 687-3129
Email: Email Ald. Probst
Rosalie L. Reinke (District 5)
2821 S 114 St
West Allis WI 53227
Home: (414) 543-0587
Email: Email Ald. Reinke
Vincent Vitale (District 1)
5758 W Kinnickinnic River Pkwy
West Allis, WI 53219
Home: (414) 545-5659
Mobile: (414) 388-5059
Email: Email Ald. Vitale
Kevin Haass (District 5)
3420 S. 122 St
West Allis WI 53227
Cell: (414) 704-1164
Email: Email Ald. Haass
Thomas G. Lajsic (District 4)
2755 S 74 St
West Allis WI 53219
Home: (414) 327-2661
Email: Email Ald. Lajsic
Michael P. May (District 3)
837 S 113 St
West Allis WI 53214
Home: (414) 460-6442
Email: Email Ald. May
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.