TL;DR: Assemblyman Roger Dickinson is a liar for saying “adults are not interested in flavors” and NJoy was there to oppose the bill but wanted to work with the bill’s author on the wording. UPS was clearly interested in making some extra money over the backs of vapers.
I hope I’m going to keep this short because many people are waiting for a report on how the hearings on AB-1500 went in Sacramento this morning. I will not be explaining what all that means (sorry, bulk of my fans and readers) because this is probably going to be mostly read by people who already know what all that means.
We (Sallie, my wife, and I) arrived early, about 7:30 in the morning and met up with Berylanna and LakeOfVape. We planned some final bits of strategy and did some final rushed moments of research on a few things we wanted to bring up and headed up into the hearing room 15 minutes or so before 9am. Sallie isn’t a vaper and has never smoked but supports our cause since she’s had first hand experience with the benefits of vaping. The rest of us are all members of CASAA and the Vaping Militia.
We had expected more of us to show up, including several vendors. I have no idea what happened with the folks of Nude Nicotine who said they were driving up all the way from near San Diego, which is quite a trip to make. Based on our interactions on Twitter it was pretty clear to me that they said they were going to be there.
I offered them to get together before the hearings, earlier in the morning to plan strategy and make the best use out of our allowed speaking time but didn’t hear from them on that. Haven’t heard anything since either.
Update: This evening I asked and heard that a stomach virus and a 7 hour drive were not a good combination. Which of course makes perfect sense. Plus the effects of being sick would easily turn lethal because Dickinson’s statements would have certainly made anyone’s stomach turn.
The hearing itself was chaotic. It took a while longer before thing were ready to go and even then it was chaotic. No speaker cards, confusion about the allowed time for speakers and limit on the number of speakers, etc.
First off was the bill’s sponsor, Assemblyman Roger Dickinson (D – Sacramento) to quickly give a run down of the bill. He stated the bill was aimed at doing one thing and only one thing, keeping potentially harmful electronic cigarettes out of the hands of minors. And he stated how the bill would introduce both age verification at the time and online place of purchase (i.e. the vendor) and age verification at delivery. We agree with the former since it is good practice to use age verification so minors can’t order things online they shouldn’t be ordering in the first place.
The age verification on delivery, however, we are opposed to. It introduced a hardship. Extra cost for those on fixed incomes, the elderly, the disabled, etc. and also extra cost and time if a package can’t be delivered when you’re around and needs to be held. People in lesser economic positions, many of whom are smokers and many of who turn to vaping as a harm reduction alternative to smoking tobacco, would have a hard time finding enough time in between working 2 or 3 jobs to do a pickup across town and are then also faced with additional cost (the cost for age verification upon delivery is tucked on to the shipping cost). With many people in those situations doing their e-liquid orders weekly or bi-weekly that could add up real fast and limit their access to the very alternative that is saving their lives. Especially since getting to a specialized vape brick & mortar store is not an option for many because there often isn’t one around and even if so, may not have what you like.
Then Assemblyman Dickinson decided to be an enormous LIAR when he stated the potential harmful effects of e-cigs and how it is marketed towards minors because of the flavors the e-juice comes in like gummi bears and fruit flavors. He then added:
“ADULTS ARE NOT INTERESTED IN FLAVORS”.
The reason I am calling Assemblyman Dickinson a LIAR, in public, is because written testimony by many adult vapers has clearly stated many times before that we adults like flavors. We adults like flavors as much as children do. In fact, we love our e-juice flavors because it is part of what helps us stay off cigarettes. For him to state this “adults are not interested in flavors” as a fact is beyond infuriating but maybe this was Mr. Dickinson’s intention. If so, it shows what a horrible person he is. He doesn’t know any adult who likes flavors… and yet several were sitting right behind him that morning and many more told him clearly before these hearings.
NJoy stated they support the intentions of the bill but that “the devil is in the details” and that they wish to “work with” the committee and Mr. Dickinson on the final wording of the legislation.
In support of the bill they had a woman from an ANTZ organization (can’t momentarily recall which) there to support the bill. No surprises there, really. And UPS was present saying that the age verification on delivery is something they support and wish to cater to. Well, of course UPS would love that because it means they get to make some extra money. Over the backs of vapers who are unfairly inflicted with a hardship that will be affecting more vapers than most probably have even realized by now.
Berylanna and Sallie Goetsch got to speak as opposition to the bill. Both made a series of excellent points in the short time allowed. Berylanna provided the committee with a copy of IL HB2250 which is similar in its intentions to AB-1500 but does not require any age verification on delivery, taking away the misconception that it’s a universal thing that is done for online tobacco sales, etc.
Sallie made an excellent point about how Schedule 1 drugs can be received through the mail without even signing for it. How does that protect the children, Mr. Dickinson? Care to explain why you wish to make it difficult for vapers to purchase their products all because of your intentions to protect the children, yet any child can grab a bag of Schedule 1 pharmaceuticals out of a mailbox. The committee clearly hadn’t expected that to come up. Sallie also countered Mr. Dickinson’s baseless LIE by stating that her husband’s (me) current favorite FLAVOR happens to be Frosted Oatmeal Cookie.
When it came down to committee votes it was clear. One was opposed, all the rest was in favor. We left shortly after that because there was no point hanging around in the hearing room any longer.
It is clear how this one will play out now. It will go up the chain and get voted on “yes” and what the bill’s supporters will all likely say is “we worked with the ecig industry on this and they agree”.
As we left the Capitol building we met up with two other vapers who were present but mostly there out of curiosity to see how things were going to pan out with AB-1500. And they were fairly local to Sacramento so had an easier time being there. A third vaper was a little late and joined us later after we found a cafe to sit outside, have coffee, and vape 25 feet from the entrance.
After that we all headed to the Electric Cigarette Lounge to hang out a bit. Of course the people at the store immediately asked if we were there for the hearings and we update them on how things went a little earlier.
Now, having reported on this there is a point I really need to make. If you are a vaper and you may wake up at a future time unable to purchase your gear or e-liquids or otherwise severely restricted in the very lifesaving alternative you’ve grown to use and love, it might be because you were too busy or too lazy to show up. Of course, let’s be honest, not everyone is going to be in a position to drop what they’re doing on short notice and travel a long distance to meet with lawmakers and committees. I understand that. But come on California vapers… this is the best we could do? Six vapers and no vendors?
Please understand that the current release of the FDA’s deeming regulations is NOT going to change what happens at the local and state level. In fact, it will further intensify now because many will feel the FDA’s deeming regulations do not go far enough. The CASAA board has been running on virtually no sleep the past week and will be extremely busy fighting things at the federal level. There is no way they could also keep supporting everything that goes on at the local level. It’s going to be up to us.
But if today is any indication… all battles are already lost if 6 people are there representing all the vapers in the entire state of California. That, unfortunately, I find frustratingly unacceptable.
Get involved. Become a member of CASAA and the Vaping Militia. Donate if you can. But most of all, get f’ing organized and DO something (preferably with coordination and as a unified front) because if you don’t you may only have yourself to blame in the future.
Also, if you are interested in helping out with a new plan for hyper-local organization on this particular topic I would like to point out the following over on Reddit.
I know I’ve gotten a lot of visitors from outside the USA, mainly the UK. If you want to learn more about how UK vapers are taking up the fight against their opposition I would kindly ask you to check out The Exit Door Leads In blog where you can read more about Caerulea Vaping. I highly recommend reading The War with the Fnools part 1 and The War with the Fnools part 2.