Monthly Archives: June 2014

2014-06-29 P-D Letters: “Don’t let industry set e-cigarette laws”

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I’m delighted that my Letter to the Editor, prompted by the OpEd by Ron Leone published the previous day, appeared in today’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch. It’s reproduced below:

Martin Pion

Martin Pion, President MoGASP

Don’t let industry set e-cigarette laws

Ronald Leone, Executive Director of the Jefferson City-based Missouri Petroleum Marketers & Convenience Store Association, is a master at sleight of hand. If he’s opposed to something, you can guarantee it’s in the public interest to support it, and vice-versa.
         This has been the case with his consistent opposition to repeated ballot initiatives to increase the lowest-in-the-nation Missouri cigarette tax, which is 17 cents per pack.
         What he never admits is that it’s in his members’ interests to oppose a tax hike; that it would be beneficial for public health; that it would help to deter youth smoking and reduce adult smoking and, horrors! incentivize them to quit.
         Mr. Leone’s June 25th OpEd (“Protecting kids from e-cigarettes: A common-sense approach”) in favor of Senate Bill 841 picked out the only potential carrot in the bill — prohibiting youth access to e-cigarettes — to justify what is overall a bad bill. Leone’s support confirms it should be vetoed by Gov. Jay Nixon.
         Reasons include the need for federal definition and regulation of e-cigarettes, as well as local clean air regulation, which this bill preempts.
         The health groups opposing the bill, apart from Missouri GASP, include the Greene County Medical Society, the Missouri State Medical Association, the Missouri Academy of Family Physicians, the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association, the American Cancer Society, the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids and the Tobacco Free Missouri Coalition.
         The public health and welfare is ill-served when we allow Mr. Leone to set the agenda.

Martin Pion • Ferguson
President, Missouri GASP (Group Against Smoking Pollution) Inc.

2014-06-25 P-D OpEd: “Protecting kids from e-cigarettes: A common-sense approach”

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Mr. Ron Leone does a great job on behalf of those he’s paid to represent. Not so much on behalf of the public health and welfare.

Here’s an objectionable section in the new law pertaining to e-cigarettes:

3. Alternative nicotine products and vapor products shall only
be sold to persons eighteen years of age or older, shall be subject to
local and state sales tax, but shall not be otherwise taxed or regulated
as tobacco products.

In the past, Mr. Leone has worked successfully against several proposed increases in Missouri’s cigarette tax, motivated by concerns over a decrease in tobacco sales but hiding those reasons behind bogus arguments. (Please see a previous blog here: 2012-11-07 P-D: “Missouri keeps tobacco tax as the lowest in the nation”.)

Here’s the OpEd he wrote, published in yesterday’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch, favoring Senate Bill 841 which is currently on Governor Nixon’s desk.

Ron Leone

Ron Leone

Protecting kids from e-cigarettes: A common-sense approach
June 25, 2014 12:00 am • Ronald J. Leone

“Alternative nicotine products” and “vapor products,” commonly and collectively referred to as “e-cigs,” have surged in popularity over the last several years. However, most Missourians would be surprised to learn that there are few if any laws on the books that regulate these new products, which means that today in Missouri children can lawfully purchase and use e-cigs.
         The Missouri Legislature, taking a common-sense, go-slow approach, recently passed Senate Bill 841. SB 841 does many good things, including:

• Defines and thus identifies alternative nicotine products and vapor products.

• Ensures that local and state sales taxes are paid and remitted when e-cigs are purchased.

• Most importantly, addresses youth access by prohibiting the sale of e-cigs to anyone under the age of 18.

         The Food and Drug Administration recently proposed draft e-cig rules that actually strengthen the case for SB 841. The main thrust of the FDA’s rules, at least with respect to actions the state of Missouri can take, is prohibiting the sale of e-cigs to minors under the age of 18, which ties in perfectly with the main goal of SB 841.
         In all likelihood, it will take many months if not years before the FDA’s proposed e-cig rules are finalized. Thankfully, the Missouri Legislature has wisely chosen not to wait and has proactively addressed the most important issues by passing SB 841 and prohibiting youth access to e-cigs.
         In addition, SB 841 specifically states that the additional taxing and regulating of e-cigs — after receiving additional information, guidance and science from the FDA and others — will be addressed in future years by the people through the Missouri Legislature and a change to the law and not by rules and regulations issued from on high by unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats.
         Several health care advocacy special interest groups actually opposed SB 841 because they felt the bill didn’t go far enough in terms of regulating and taxing e-cigs. They testified that they would rather see no bill pass in 2014, even though inaction would mean that 10-year-olds could continue to lawfully purchase and use e-cigs in Missouri.
         These special interest groups are now going so far as to urge Gov. Jay Nixon to veto SB 841 because the bill does not define and classify e-cigs as “tobacco products,” even though e-cigs contain nicotine but no tobacco.
         In politics, you should never let the desire for the perfect bill, which rarely if ever happens, keep you from supporting a good bill which moves the issue forward and promotes positive change in a realistic and measured way. Especially when any law can be changed at any time in the future by the people through their elected senators and representatives when and if new facts, science or federal guidelines warrant a change in the law.
         Thanks to the efforts of Sen. Jay Wasson, R-Nixa, and Reps. Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia, and Caleb Jones, R-Columbia, SB 841 passed by very strong votes in the Missouri Senate — 27 to 4 — and the Missouri House — 127 to 19.
         We urge Gov. Nixon to sign SB 841 into law. Once this is done, Missourians can be assured that a meaningful step has been taken to ensure that children are prohibited from purchasing and using e-cigs.

Ronald J. Leone is the executive director of the Missouri Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association, located in Jefferson City.

2014-05-22 P-D: “Study: E-cigarettes help smokers quit”

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Can mosquitoes tell the difference between e-cigarettes and regular cigarettes?!

Other Coast by Adrian Raeside

MoGASP question: Can mosquitoes tell the difference between e-cigarettes and regular cigarettes?!

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch recently republished a news article about a favorable British study of e-cigarettes, adding to the debate over these still-unregulated nicotine delivery devices. If e-cigarettes genuinely help smokers quit and don’t encourage smoking initiation, they should be seen as a welcome but regulated alternative to cigarettes. Regulation includes not permitting e-cigarette use in smoke-free areas to ensure continued compliance with smoke-free air laws.

Please also see an earlier blog about the glamorization of e-cigarettes, reminiscent of the former promotion of regular cigarettes: 2013-07-12 P-D: New health concern about e-cigarettes?

Also, St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter, Marie French, wrote a May 12, 2014, article titled Measure barring minors from e-cigarette purchases sent to Missouri governor in which Rep. Jill Schupp reportedly expressed concerns about the bill, SB 841:

Rep. Jill Schupp (D), Creve Coeur

Rep. Jill Schupp

Rep. Jill Schupp (D), Creve Coeur, said on the House floor Monday that this definition and exemption from regulations applying to tobacco products could limit the ability of the FDA to impose future regulations on e-cigarettes. She called it a “pre-emptive strike” against the FDA’s authority.

“Even though the FDA did come out with regulations that increase the taxes on e-cigarette products we need to leave the door open,” Schupp said. “We know it takes more than just not selling these products to 18 year olds to stop young people from smoking.”

Recently, the Greene County Medical Society called on Missouri Governor Jay Nixon to veto SB 841. A link to their letter is below, courtesy of Jim Blaine, MD, followed by the e-cigarettes article.

Greene County Medical Society June 3, 2014, letter to Gov. Nixon requesting veto of SB 841

Study: E-cigarettes help smokers quit
May 22, 2014 2:00 pm • Abby Phillip
The Washington Post

People who used e-cigarettes to try to quit smoking were significantly more likely to succeed than those who bought over-the-counter cessation aids or tried to go cold turkey, according to British researchers.
         The study — of 5,863 adults who wanted to stop smoking — was conducted by University College London researchers and is scheduled to be published in the journal Addiction on Wednesday.
         Twenty percent of those who used e-cigarettes reported they had quit smoking tobacco and were still off cigarettes at the time the survey was taken. Ten percent of those who used nicotine patches or gums said they had quit, and about 15 percent of those who used nothing said they stopped smoking.
         “The potential public health aspect to e-cigarettes is they seem to tap into a widespread appeal that these types of cessation methods have never managed to do,” Jamie Brown, one of the study’s authors, said in an interview Tuesday. “In so far as e-cigarettes helped people to stop, then the fact that they are so widely used could suggest that it would have a quite positive public health effect.”
         About 42 million Americans smoke tobacco, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than 68 percent are trying to quit.
         E-cigarettes are battery-powered devices that heat a nicotine-laced liquid that produces an inhaled vapor. Still, they are lightly regulated in the United States, their nicotine levels vary and there have been some reports of carcinogens present in the vapor.
         E-cigarettes appear to be better at helping people quit because they are a novel way of consuming nicotine. “Vaping” provides a similar “sensory experience” to smoking, Brown said.

Letter from Greene County Medical Society to Gov. Nixon, dated June 3, 2014:

May21Resolution

2014-05-21 P-D: “Move by Legislature could exempt St. Charles casino from smoking ban”

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Yet more efforts, supported by St. Charles elected officials, to ensure smoking continues in its Ameristar Casino over unfounded fears that revenues would drop if it were to go smoke-free. The bill, SB672, should be vetoed by Gov. Jay Nixon.

Move by Legislature could exempt St. Charles casino from smoking ban
May 21, 2014 12:15 am • By Mark Schlinkmann mschlinkmann@post-dispatch.com 636-255-7233

ST. CHARLES • City officials may soon have a way to shield the Ameristar Casino from any future countywide smoking ban, thanks to action by the Missouri Legislature before it adjourned.
         If Gov. Jay Nixon signs the newly passed bill, St. Charles would be added to a list of cities exempt from county health rules if they set up their own municipal health departments.

Mayor Sally Faith

Mayor Sally Faith

         “It’s the opportunity to have something to fall back on,” Mayor Sally Faith said Tuesday.
         Faith worries that the millions of dollars in city tax revenue from the casino would be reduced if smoking is prohibited and attendance dropped.
         Troy Stremming, an executive with Ameristar’s parent company, said it supports the city’s bill “if they believe this is important for the future growth of the city.”

Pat Lindsey, TFMo STL

Pat Lindsey, TFMo STL

         Anti-smoking activist Pat Lindsey decried the Legislature’s move.
         “It’s beyond me how they can go backwards like this,” said Lindsey, the volunteer executive director of Tobacco-Free St. Louis. “From a health standpoint, what are they thinking?”
         Under current law, cities with at least 75,000 residents with their own health agencies are exempt from county rules to “enhance the public health.” The bill adds St. Charles, which had 65,794 residents in the 2010 census, to that category.
         Originally sponsored by Rep. Doug Funderburk, R-St. Peters, the provision was tacked on to a lengthy bill on local government issues across Missouri.
         Ameristar has said the St. Charles casino could lose 25 percent of its business if smoking was barred but still allowed at its competitors.

Councilman Joe Cronin 203 300 T 101 150

Councilman Joe Cronin

         A smoking ban advocate on the St. Charles County Council — Joe Cronin, R-St. Paul — says such estimates are overblown. He also said setting up a city health agency would cost “a lot of money.”
         Cronin has tried unsuccessfully for various bans, sometimes via health ordinances and others through county charter amendments. It’s unclear whether the Legislature’s bill could exempt the city from charter measures.
         In 2012, the county put on the ballot a two-question smoking package, but it was blocked by a judge.
         Voters first would have been asked to decide on banning smoking in public places. A second question would have exempted places barring people under age 21, such as the casino and bars.
         City officials worried that voters might pass the ban but reject the exemption measure.
         Cronin’s most recent bill would ban smoking in public places except those barring people under age 21, exempting Ameristar. That bill died last week but he plans to reintroduce it later this year.
         The bill passed by the Legislature is SB672.