Let’s Clear The Air Alaska!

Contributed by Acey Priest

President Harry S. Truman intuitively said: “Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measure, until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear.”

Truman’s philosophy is incredibly applicable when it comes to lawmakers and the public learning facts about the e-cigarette and vaping industry.

Not only is there big tobacco and anti-tobacco mega-marketing clouding the truth, there are misinformed government officials, policy makers and legislators considering making decisions without accurate data and understanding. The vaping industry, as with any industry, must remain vigilantly alert for bureaucracy affecting its commerce.

Clear the Air Alaska is a new trade association formed to set the record straight when it comes to e-cigarettes. CTAA advocates for businesses and consumers at the same time it serves as a sentinel and consumer watchdog.

The bias prevalent in the media because of mass advertising dollars from wealthy anti-tobacco interests is evident each and every day on the radio, TV, social media, and annoyingly splattered in digital ads online across our iPad, computer and smartphone screens.

Alaskan anti-tobacco advocacies are spending millions each year to dissuade people from ingesting the toxic mixture of 7,000 chemicals in cigarette smoke, yet fail to acknowledge the benefits from electronic cigarettes, particularly for health and longevity (compared to a cigarette).

The adverse result of decrying electronic cigarettes, and egregiously suggesting a vaping device is more harmful than the carcinogenic, tar-laden, chemical packed cigarette, is where the real problem lies. Add the fallacious claims by Valerie Davidson, Alaska’s commissioner over the Department of Health and Social Services (that e-cigarettes could be more harmful than smoking), and we now face a storm of misinformation and fear.

This knee-jerk “leadership” is a propellant against thoughtful, rational regulations and statutes for Alaskan consumers.

Our government can do better. 

The Alaskan vaping community, a demographic of myriad ages, genders, ethnicities and political party affiliations, faces a barrage of unnecessary infringement that will dissolve the industry.

Our federal government, through the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and President Obama, has promulgated proposed-regulations forcing certification and approval of every e-liquid and juice vaping businesses sell. That equates to millions of dollars in costs to test each and every flavor. The complication of the chemistry dynamics, and the time and lab testing price tag, will devastate business throughout the country.

The FDA has felt pressure from congressional members in Washington DC to delay imposition and continue assessment of the efficacy of such a hobbling mandate on the industry. Kudos to Alaska’s congressman, Don Young (R), who has committed to help stop this overreach in Congress.

In Alaska, State Representative Bob Herron (D-Bethel) and State Senator Pete Micciche (R-Kenai) have sponsored House and Senate bills that are in committee this session, adding the words “electronic cigarette” to the current definition of smoking.

Vaping is not smoking, nor is it a cigarette or tobacco product. In fact, there are many plant-based nicotines used in e-liquids, and roughly two thirds of the juices do not contain any nicotine.

A far worse threat to the industry is Governor Walker’s proposed legislation, Senate Bill 133, filed on January 19 of this year. SB 133 imposes a 100% tax on electronic devices. That’s correct: 100%.

Should this pass, the literal doubling cost result on all products and devices may bury the industry. This would directly push those Alaskans who have quit smoking tobacco to return, rest assured.

The burgeoning electronic cigarette industry is a healthy alternative to smoking and chewing tobacco. Our member stores throughout the state have a zero tolerance for selling to underage (19 years old in Alaska) patrons, nor do we advocate for branding that entices youths to vape.

There is a demonstrable difference, in a very positive way, between vaping and tobacco cigarette products.

Crushing regulations and new laws will only prevent people from quitting smoking cigarettes, while closing small businesses and depleting the job market of hundreds of positions in the industry.

As a $4 billion deficit looms before us, decimating this industry is neither prudent nor responsible. Closing business and laying off workers makes no sense.

We formed Clear the Air Alaska to set the record straight.

We are a source for consumer protection if someone is selling inappropriately.

We are a resource for local, state and federal laws that may affect you. We are a transparent and reasonable advocacy for a responsible industry and patronage.

It is time to clear the air, Alaska! We hope you will join us. Please find more information at: www.CleartheAirAlaska.com.