DC – Stop the Flavor Ban – Send in your comments!

 

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On Thursday, January 2, 2020, Washington, D.C.’s Judiciary & Public Safety Committee held a hearing on three bills that include a ban flavors and limiting access to any vapor products left on the market by requiring a prescription to purchase. While a majority of the testimony at this hearing was presented by anti-tobacco activists and anti-harm reduction organizations, DC residents are encouraged to submit written comments until January 16, 2020.

Submit written comments opposing the flavor ban in DC to Judiciary@dccouncil.us

  • We are providing talking points and a prewritten message below for you to use in your emails and phone calls with councilmembers.

 

DC Residents are also encouraged to make contact with the following city council members:

Council Member Phone Email
Charles Allen Chair of Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety (202) 724-8072 callen@dccouncil.us
Phil Mendelson Chairman of City Council (202) 724-8085 pmendelson@dccouncil.us
Muriel Bowser Mayor (202) 727-2643 eom@dc.gov

 

Points to include in your emails, phone calls, and spoken comments:

  • Briefly, share your story about switching to vaping and what role that flavors played in helping you switch.
  • Note any health changes you’ve experienced.
  • Briefly, discuss what losing access to local vape shops will mean for you (Will you shop out-of-state, in neighboring cities, or online? Will you make your own e-liquid at home or purchase products on an underground market?).
  • Additional talking points for testimony and emails are available here.
  • Watch these comments from San Diego County Supervisor Kristin Gaspar – YouTube 

Sample Message you can copy/paste into email forms (2758 characters):

(Please include your personal story about switching to vaping)


I am writing as a voter and a taxpayer in Washington, D.C. urging you to resist the well-meaning but reactionary legislation to ban flavored vapor products and other safer alternatives to smoking. There is no evidence that banning flavors will reduce youth experimentation and such drastic action would have unintended consequences that might cause irreparable harm. Forcing legitimate specialty retailers to close will expose consumers to unnecessary risks including shopping on an unregulated underground market and even returning to smoking. I am asking you directly: Do you support banning flavored vapor products or will you help me stand up to cigarette companies and protect my freedom of choice?

Consumers and businesses participating in a legitimate regulated market are vital to addressing the issue of youth access to nicotine. Specialized retailers that sell mainly vapor products serve a dual purpose of providing welcoming spaces for people to learn about the products and setting an example of how age verification protocols can be implemented and strictly followed. This same attention to customer service and regulations is not found in underground markets where peer-to-peer sellers complete transactions by way of social media sites like Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat.

By targeting legitimate retailers and the people they serve, flavor ban legislation is not addressing significant sources of youth access to nicotine products and ignoring any underlying social or personal factors leading young people to seek out risky products and behavior. On the other hand, there is currently a crisis involving people who have limited access to safer nicotine alternatives returning to combustible tobacco. If flavors are banned, cigarette companies and maybe one or two large vapor companies will be all that consumers have to choose from.

Ultimately, a flavor ban on vapor and other nicotine products promotes the erroneous belief that forcing people to “behave” will result in the best possible outcome. In reality, we know that people (of all ages) will find ways around strict regulations in order to gain access to products and activities they enjoy. The most productive policy will equip consumers with accurate information about risks and empower them to make informed decisions about the products they choose to use.

I along with my fellow members of Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association (CASAA) thank you for considering my comments on this issue. Please know that the vaping community are your allies in addressing concerns about youth use and we are open to working toward a positive way forward. I look forward to your response on this issue and I am available for any questions you might have.