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

Reminder: For a comment to be considered it must be accompanied by your full name: first name only or a pseudonym is not normally accepted. Please limit your comment to 1,000 characters (including spaces), and also avoid epithets and personal attacks.

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.

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

  1. Of course this all ignores the fact that the concept of taxation is for everyone to pay their fair share of government and in a free society should never be used as a club by any group to force another group to act in a manner that the one group wants. To quote Daniel Webster.

    “An unlimited power to tax involves, necessarily, a power to destroy,”
    On the electronic cigarette issue. There is absolutely no evidence that they are harmful in any way shape manner or form and therefore no justification in regulating them. The anti-smoking establishment would like them regulated because of the fact that it will reduce funding to their groups because of cuts that will result from cuts in the Master Settlement Agreement. Like always everything boils down to money.

    “Cigarette consumption has dropped an annual average 3.4 percent since 2000 while many bonds were structured to withstand consumption declines of only 2 to 3 percent.

    But as smokers swap traditional cigarettes for tobacco-free e-cigarettes and other vaping products, the smoking rate is declining even faster and analysts now predict some bonds could go into default before the end of this decade.”


    mogasp comment: Marshall, your comment is 25% longer than the 1000 character limit but I’ll allow it on this occasion. But please respect that limit in future. I disagree that we currently have the scientific evidence that e-cigarettes pose no danger to health. I have seen no evidence that pro-health groups oppose e-cigarettes because it will result in cuts in Master Settlement Agreement money. (From my perspective, the MSA has proved to be a sham, in that almost none of the money coming to Missouri has been spent on helping smokers to quit or anti-smoking campaigns.)
    However, a major concern of mine is that allowing such products in smoke-free environments makes it virtually impossible to enforce that requirement.

  2. Sorry didn’t do a word check. Of course I’m against the Jim Crow type laws against smokers to begin with. But on the issue of enforcement of smoking bans that is a sham. Vapor from an ecigarette has no smell where an actual cigarette the smell is obvious. There is no comparison so enforcement should not be a problem.


    mogasp comment: I have to disagree with you on the enforcement issue. If I enter an establishment where an e-cigarette is being used there is no way to ID it correctly visually.

  3. I think you should take a few moments and read this: http://www.rstreet.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/RSTREET25.pdf

    Which in part says: “Enforcement of no-smoking restrictions: Some have claimed, particularly in the context of proposed bans of e-cigarettes in no-smoking areas, that bystanders and those entrusted to enforce smoking bans may have difficulty telling e-cigarettes from conventional cigarettes. Despite assertions to the contrary, it is very easy for any bystander to tell the difference between a conventional tobacco cigarette and an e-cigarette. The newer “mod” and “tank” devices do not even resemble cigarettes. While we have no data on this issue, it seems unlikely that use of these devices in no-smoking areas would induce smokers to light up.” I believe all your other concerns are addressed in this document as well.

    mogasp comment: Jake, I haven’t had time to follow-up on the link you provided but I’ll allow your comment. I also appreciate your keeping it within the 1,000 character limit.

  4. Bill Godshall

    As one who has campaigned for 3 decades to ban smoking in indoor workplaces and public places, and to stop tobacco companies from marketing to youth, I’m disappointed my former colleague Martin Pion has joined forces with dishonest hypocrites who want Jay Nixon to veto reasonable, responsible and overdue legislation (SB 841) that would ban the sale of e-cigs, dissolvables and other new nicotine products to minors.

    Since 2009 when Big Pharma funded CTFK, ACS, AHA, ALA, AAP, etc. urged FDA to unlawfully ban all e-cigarettes, those groups have falsely accused e-cig companies of target marketing to youth, have falsely claimed that e-cigs are addicting youth, are gateways to cigarette smoking, renormalize smoking, don’t help smokers quit, and may be as hazardous as cigarettes.

    But the evidence consistently finds that e-cigs are 99%(+/-1%) less hazardous than cigarettes, aren’ marketed to youth, have never created daily dependence in any nonsmoker, are virtually all consumed by smokers and vapers, have helped more than a million smokers quit, pose no risks to nonusers, and are gateways away from smoking.

    Regardless, all reasonable people agree that e-cigs shouldn’t be marketed to youth, and support laws banning their sale to minors.

    But while I (and other responsible people) have been advocating state laws that ban the sale of e-cigs to minors since 2009 (40 have already enacted them), the unreasonable and hypocritical liars at CTFK, ACS, AHA, ALA, AAP, AMA, and their THR opposing state medical association allies (that also vehemently oppose smokers switching to lifesaving e-cigs) have been lobbying against state laws that ban the sale of e-cig to minors.

    Bill Godshall
    Executive Director
    Smokefree Pennsylvania

    mogasp reply: Bill, I respect the position you’re taking but where I part company is allowing e-cigarettes in venues in which smoke-free air laws prohibit cigarettes etc. They would have to be made instantly recognizable as other than a cigarette for me to consider changing that viewpoint.
             I recognize that e-cigarettes apparently have positive attributes for existing smokers who may use them to help quit smoking. I AM concerned about some aspects of they’re promotion, which are totally unrelated to health claims, e.g. their glamorization.
             I’d like to see them regulated in such a way that they remain reasonably available to adults, but whatever risks they pose are scientifically documented and well publicized.
             Frankly, when someone like Ronald Leone, Executive Director, Missouri Petroleum Marketers & Convenience Store Association, writes in favor of this law that sets off major alarm bells for me, as I wrote in my published reply in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
             P.S. Your 1,677 character submission (excluding sign off) greatly exceeds the normal 1,000 character limit but I’ll allow it.

  5. Martin (aka Dr. Gasp) Pion remains on the side of the angels. He stays vigilant and yet doesn’t go off the deep end.

    mogasp comment: I can never resist a compliment! (Especially from a good friend.)

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