March 21, 2016

Indiana Passes Regulations that Infringe of the Rights of Vapors

Seal of the Great State of Indiana

INDIANAPOLIS – Vape shop owners are concerned, and rightfully so, they worry that new state rules may hamper, or end, their growing businesses.

New regulations were passed that are set to go into effect July 1st and they are far-reaching. Security measures include rules as arbitrary as criminal background checks for vape shop owners. Do owners of tobacco stores, or places that sell tobacco, have to face these same regulations?

Supporters of the government stepping in say the state had no choice, the federal government has failed to act and the last thing we can have is people acting freely and making decisions for themselves.

“We expect the government to tell us what to do,” said one long-time resident of the state. “We would prefer the biggest government there is, the federal government, but if they won’t step in and control our lives I guess we’ll have to listen to the little brother, the state.”

But there are residents on the other side of this argument as well. They say the new regulations are too restrictive and they will negatively affect many small business.

“I can’t believe we’re being singled out,” said Jeff Tolbert, owner of a newly opened vape shop. “There are a lot of people around here who are just trying to do right by their family. The recession hit particularly hard around here and this is just another way to generate income.”

Many lawmakers view the situation from a completely different angle. “We can’t have people doing whatever they want around here,” said a member of the State Senate who chose to remain anonymous. “I think the real issue is that people have an incorrect view of what freedom is. Freedom isn’t the right to choose your own path or what you want to do, freedom is having the right to freely follow what the government tells you to do. People get upset, like we’re trying to infringe on their freedoms, when in reality, we just want to tell them what to do and have them listen. There’s a big difference.”

Not all of the new rules are bad. Many companies that manufacture e juice praised regulations that came out last year. They included banning sales of vape liquids to minors and they required child-proof packaging. Most vaping liquid contains nicotine which can be hazardous to your health if not handled correctly. Child-proofing the containers that the juice is shipped in is only common sense.

But the new standards that they are proposing are even more far-reaching. These new standards require vape shops that make their own liquids to have a certified ‘clean room’ where the juice is made. To have a true, ISO-certified clean room, you have to invest some money.

“It’s not the cheapest thing in the world,” said chemist James Doyle. “A real clean room will prevent all containments from getting into your juice. It’s a best practice to make sure there are no foreign objects in any juice that is sold to the public.”

Store owners must also pay $1,000 fee to get a permit from the Alcohol and Tobacco Commission and enter into a five-year agreement with a security company.

There are some shop owners who belong to an advocacy group, one that protects against unwarranted and undue restrictive measures, and they are fighting back. They have sued the state in an attempt to block the measures. The rules aren’t fair, they argue, Big Tobacco and small stores like gas stations don’t have to comply. What’s fair for one needs to be fair for all, was a common phrase heard by those in attendance of a local meeting.

The FDA is currently in the process of writing regulations for electronic cigarettes. They have yet to determine how they’re going to classify them, and regulate them, but many feel the guidelines will be coming soon and they will restrict sales.

Many have said the government is moving too slowly, as e-cigarettes have quickly gained popularity.

According to some studies out there the percentage of adults how have used e cigarettes is increasing rapidly. Some estimate that the number of people who have tried one have doubled from 2010 to 2013.

A December 2014 study by the University of Michigan found that use of e-cigarettes among teens has surpassed the use of regular cigarettes.

 

 

 

March 14, 2016

California Looks to Do the Bidding of Big Tobacco

State Capital Building California

In this past week the Legislative body of California approved a basket of bills, most of them are intrusive, pertaining to nicotine products and use. Many Republicans raised their objections, but the majority (Democrats) had the final say and they insisted that the state impose their will on the common man. Despite having smoking rates that cause governors around the country to salivate they feel they must do more…to ‘save the children’ no doubt. The proposed laws are so intrusive that even the liberal-leaning LA Times couldn’t hold back their criticism.

“In its zeal to stand up to the tobacco industry, the California Legislature has gone too far with a new package of proposed laws that would trample on the rights of adults — yes, even smokers have rights! — and prematurely treat electronic cigarettes the same as their dangerous smoke-based brethren,” opined the Los Angeles Times.

A major part of the package intends to boost the smoking age to 21, something that is not kindly looked upon by anyone other than the lawmakers. They use science to support their argument (teenage brains are wired to get easily hooked on tobacco) and put it up against individual choice. The majority of time, an 18-year-old is considered an adult…unless you want to vape. However, since you are old enough to be sent over to a foreign land to kill people, should you find yourself in the military the powers that be will grant you an exception and let you vape. They are benevolent.

Needless to say, most vapers aren’t happy about this development. Many have found it satisfying, pleasurable and a much less dangerous alternative to smoking.

“The science is behind the California Tobacco 21 Initiative. We feel our case is strong, the Institute of Medicine Report shows that it is our duty to protect people from themselves,” explained a New York City physician who is a long-time supporter of Big Brother. “There is no other report out there that supports any other bill in front of the governor.

The government reaction against vaping reminds many of similar restrictions of freedom throughout history and the heavy-hand of the government. Maybe they have a fear, that someone, somewhere is enjoying themselves and possibly doing without the government getting their cut. Whatever the case may be, they feel your business is their business.

Here’s where the Times editorial really sings:

Vaping is a public health concern, but a distinct one requiring its own set of restrictions. There’s no evidence, for example, that the emissions associated with second-hand vaping are even a fraction as dangerous as those of traditional cigarettes. Simply extending all the rules that California adopted to protect the public from the effects of second-hand smoke doesn’t make sense before the facts are all in.

If anyone thinks that a calm, level-headed, scientific based discussion is what is going to happen at any level of government discussion, odds are they haven’t paid attention to politics for long. We’re at a time in our society when the curtain gets pulled back a little more every day, and recently we have seen just how much private corporations influence our politicians with money. Follow the money and you’ll be able to find out the motivations behind these decisions. There are very powerful people who are interested in keeping the barrier to entry with any nicotine-related product very high.

“There’s not that many companies that dominate the nicotine market and they have an interest in keeping that number as small as possible”.

All the anti-vaping activists should look at the issue from a slightly different perspective. Sure, vaping isn’t as healthy as breathing air, but does that mean we should lose our rights over it? Should it be restricted as heavily as traditional tobacco? Should it be restricted as heavily as guns or alcohol? Where does it stop? Once the government starts taking your freedom under the guise of ‘protecting you’ it’s all downhill.

Those who want to the iron fist of the government as a daily companion in their life point to teens that would never consume nicotine if it wasn’t for vaping. And while I’m sure that does occur, is that worth infringing upon everyone else. Since when is the one greater than the many. To take away our rights under the illusion of security and protection goes against the very fundamentals of democracy and liberty. Let’s hope, for all of our sakes, that someone has the courage to stand up to the wolves in the henhouse, the ones who spend their days thinking of ways to keep you in an invisible cage.

 

March 07, 2016

Leonard DiCaprio...Vaping's Biggest Star

Leonardo Dicaprio Vaping at the Oscars

Leonardo DiCaprio, after proving just how much of a man he could be after his fight with a bear in The Revenant, already has someone wanting to take him on for his next fight — the American Lung Association. The health organization has took DiCaprio to task after pictures of the actor puffing on an e-cigarette at last weekend’s Screen Actors Guild awards came out. They called his actions "deeply troubling," and chastising him for exposing his peers to secondhand smoke.

One of the things the ALA refuses to acknowledge if the numerous studies that have been released that cite the absence of chemicals in the second-hand vapor that is exhaled from these e cigarette devices.

"It's not as bad as everyone think it is," said an industry insider who chose to remain anonymous. "A lot of these studies, when you get behind the scenes and see who commissioned them and why they were done, you start to realize that the e cigarette industry is just like every other one, people have an agenda."

Earlier Saturday evening the actor reportedly pulled out his vape pen while seated at his table. The flavor of the smoke contained within remains yet to be determined, however there have been stories that it was the wonderfully pleasant Sicilian Gold from 10th Planet E Juice, but those stories have yet to be confirmed. It’s not the first time Leo’s been spotted vaping, either — the actor was also observed to be using an e-cigarette multiple times during the 2014 US Open. At least on those occasions he made attempts to cover his secret shame, donning a cap, dark glasses, and a beard.

Is he setting a bad example...maybe, that depends on who you ask. And while it is true that vaping isn't as healthy as breathing air, nothing is! Between global warming, Fukushima, horrible air quality in China and war in Syria, there are a lot of things attempting to bring down the average life span on earth these days. But ask yourself, how many of them are as rewarding as a good vape.

 

March 04, 2016

It's Official...the Days of Vaping On a Plane are Over

 

No Vaping on Airplanes Anymore

 

Next month will mark the beginning of something new, no vaping will be allowed for anyone on a commercial flight going to, or coming from, the United States.

It has been 25 years since the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) decided to do away with cigarettes on commercial planes, and they have now announced that they're taking the same stance on e-cigarettes, i.e. battery-charged devices that vaporize liquid nicotine for a smoother inhalation.

In the past the agency indicated that e-cigarettes were included in the ban that took away regular cigarettes, cigars and other tobacco products. However, they wanted to clarify things and little more and specifically name e-cigarettes in the ban. Their hope was to do away with any confusion of ambiguity that may have been present.

But no more. Yesterday, the U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said that he submitted the final regulations, which will clarify once and for all that e-cigarettes fall under the same ban as other tobacco products, prohibiting their use on any domestic or foreign airline flying to, from, or within the U.S.

“We understand that there is a lot of propaganda out there concerning vaping and e-cigarettes in general. Many people want you to believe that it's just as bad...or even worse, than traditional cigarettes. But we know better. Recent studies have come out which shed truth on light on this subject," an anonymous source from the Federal Agency said. "But we still can't have it happening on flights. There are too many people in a confined space to allow it to happen. We do it out of love for our fellow human being."

Indeed, increasing research shows that the use of e-cigarettes—via direct inhalation or from second-hand exposure—is far from what they want you to believe. Many studies have shown that even though e-cigarettes don’t burn tobacco (which creates visible carcinogenic smoke), they do vaporize dangerous chemicals, releasing them into the air. These chemicals, have received a bad rap, but they're not as bad as everyone wants you to believe explains Jonathan T. Hingelbomer, Ph.D., professor of medicine and director of the Center for Truth and Enlightenment, a small non-profit group located in the Chicago area.

“It's going to take years, many, many years, for people to reject the propaganda that they have already heard and to get a clear understanding of what e-cigarettes are," said Hingelbomer.

Indeed, the ruling on e-cigarettes was first proposed in September 2011. The then U.S. Transportation Secretary, Ray LaHood, said in a statement at the time: “Airline passengers have rights, and this new rule would enhance passenger comfort and reduce any confusion surrounding the use of electronic cigarettes in flight.”

The rule is now crystal clear. And any potential use of a tobacco product in flight is officially snuffed out.

Note that if you do vape and plan to travel with your supplies, you’re still allowed to carry e-cigarettes in your personal bags in the airplane cabin. You are not, however, allowed to check them in your luggage. A regulation was put into place in October 2015 prohibiting e-cigarettes from being stored in checked baggage due to incidents in which they sparked fires in suitcases.

 

March 01, 2016

Learn the REAL Truth About Vaping

This is a great video about vaping that you wont see on any mainstream media outlet because it doesn't fit the narrative Big Tobacco and Big Pharma want you to see. Vaping isn't what they want you to think it is, and we don't need to ban it to "Save the Children". Vaping is an alternative to smoking that is 99% safer, that's the main message that any competent and honest medical professional should tell you. But you shouldn't listen to what any one individual has to say about it, you should do the research yourself. Follow the money and find out exactly what's going on behind the scenes and why. You'll be glad you did.

 

February 29, 2016

Study Shoots Down Main Theory Against E Liquid

Vaping Study Proves Value In Vaping

 

A new study calls into question one of the most frequently cited arguments for regulating e-cigarettes and doubting their potential to reduce harms caused by smoking.

Published in Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology, the study shows levels of the carcinogen formaldehyde emitted from e-cigarettes are significantly lower than levels found in regular cigarettes. E-cigarettes work by having the heating coil boil the e-liquid to a point where vapor is produced and then inhaled. The study directly clashes with a letter published in the New England Journal of medicine.

Not only that, but e-cigarettes need to be turned to such a high power setting to produce anything close to hazardous levels of formaldehyde that it’s wildly unrealistic that vapers are in any significant danger from the chemical. This condition is known as “dry puff.”

“It burns the nose. It burns the throat. It’s very, very unpleasant. No vaper is going to just sit there and inhale that. It kind of forces the vaper to just shut it off entirely,” Kurt Kistler, a chemistry professor at Pennsylvania State University and co-author of the study, told Motherboard.

The results directly contradict a letter published in the New England Journal of Medicine that warned e-cigarettes exposed vapers to dangerous levels of formaldehyde. The letter was subsequently mired in controversy over its accuracy.

Researchers at Enthalpy Analytical in North Carolina analyzed five different e-cigarettes. “There needs to be context because the term ‘electronic cigarette’ is not just one thing. E-cigarettes include a huge variety of devices, power settings, wattage control, voltage control, and even temperature control,” said Kistler.

Three of the devices turned to their highest setting produced levels of formaldehyde of less than one milligram each per day. This compares favorably with a pack of cigarettes, which exposes a smoker to 1.5-2.5 mg of formaldehyde. Even more reassuringly for vapers, the level of formaldehyde emitted by those three e-cigs was far lower than the 5.3 mg exposure the Occupational Safety and Health Administration deems acceptable in the workplace.

Kistler’s findings are in line with an array of e-cigarette researchers who conclude high levels of formaldehyde emitted from the devices largely depends on the power settings being at such a high level that no vaper could, in fact, use it.

One device tested was, however, emitting levels of formaldehyde far in excess of tobacco cigarettes. But the most likely explanation for these abnormally high levels, according to the researchers, is that a part of the e-cigarette — the coil — had become overheated after all the e-liquid was used.

“Our results demonstrate that large differences exist in the EC devices available in the marketplace, and that, depending on the device, changes in power applied to the atomizer can have dramatic, but different, impacts on both total aerosol yield and the formation of aldehyde compounds in the EC aerosol, with some devices far more capable than others of maximizing liquid aerosolization while minimizing thermal decomposition at higher power levels,” the study concluded.

 

Written By Guy Bentley

Follow Guy On Twitter

November 02, 2015

CDC Study Confirms E-Cigarettes Are Helping Smokers Quit

People who welcome e-cigarettes as an alternative to the conventional kind hope they will help smokers quit, thereby dramatically reducing the health risks they face. People who fear e-cigarettes worry that vaping will encourage smoking among people who otherwise never would have tried tobacco by getting them hooked on nicotine. New survey data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provide evidence that top officials at that agency are wrong to favor the latter view.

According to the 2014 National Health Interview Survey, 13 percent of American adults have tried an e-cigarette, including 48 percent of current smokers, 55 percent of "recent" quitters (defined as respondents who had last smoked less than a year before the survey), 9 percent of "long-term" quitters (defined as respondents who had last smoked a year or more before the survey), and just 3 percent of people who have never smoked. The same survey found that 4 percent of adults were current e-cigarettes users (meaning they vaped "every day" or "some days"), including 16 percent of current smokers, 22 percent of recent quitters, 2 percent of long-term quitters, and just 0.4 percent of never-smokers.

CDCCDC

In other words, never-smokers rarely become regular vapers, which suggests the CDC's fears are misplaced, especially since there is no evidence that never-smokers who vape are therefore more likely to become smokers or that the rising popularity of e-cigarettes has given a boost to conventional cigarettes. To the contrary, vaping and smoking rates are moving in opposite directions. The CDC's survey data suggest that's more than a coincidence: Not only was vaping much more common among current and former smokers than among never-smokers, but current smokers who had tried to quit in the previous year were more likely to be vapers than those who had not.

CDCCDC

Specifically, 55 percent of smokers who had tried to quit in the previous year were ever-vapers, compared to 40 percent of smokers who had not tried to quit. The rates for current e-cigarette use were 20 percent and 12 percent, respectively. It looks like e-cigarettes may very well play an important role in moving away from the real thing.

October 26, 2015

Should Vaping Age Be Raised to 21?

Vaping Age Should Be Raised to 21

MONDAY, Oct. 26, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- The minimum age to purchase tobacco products and e-cigarettes should be raised to 21 across the United States, according to a new policy recommendation released Monday by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The strong statement by the nation's leading pediatricians group was among more than two dozen recommendations aimed at tightening regulations on cigarettes, e-cigarettes and other tobacco and nicotine products, to reduce youth smoking and nicotine addiction.

The group also called for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to regulate e-cigarettes the same way it regulates other tobacco products.

"Most adolescents don't use just one nicotine product but will commonly use or experiment with several," said Dr. Harold Farber, lead author of two of the statements and a pediatric pulmonologist at Texas Children's Hospital. "Research to date shows that adolescents who experiment with e-cigarettes and conventional cigarettes are much more likely to go on to become regular cigarette smokers and less likely to stop cigarette smoking."

The new policies were presented Monday at the group's national conference and published online simultaneously in the journal Pediatrics.

Currently, only Hawaii and about 90 cities and communities in several other states have a law requiring a minimum age of 21 to purchase tobacco products, according to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

"As the brain matures, the ability to make decisions with important health consequences should likewise improve," said Dr. Danelle Fisher, vice chair of pediatrics at Providence Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica, Calif. "Thus, slightly older young adults may choose to forgo tobacco products," suggested Fisher, who was not involved with the new policy recommendations.

In addition, older teens often buy tobacco products for younger ones, Farber said. He added that communities requiring buyers to be at least 21 have seen youth smoking rates drop.

Another policy recommendation aimed at reducing adolescents' attraction to smoking, using hookah pipes or "vaping" (the term for using e-cigarettes), would outlaw all flavors used in tobacco or nicotine products, including menthol in cigarettes and the various flavors in e-cigarettes.

"With flavors like peach, grape, cotton candy, gummy bear and so on, what you have is essentially highly addictive candy," Farber said. "Other flavors, such as menthol, decrease the natural harshness of tobacco smoke, and flavored products introduce youth to a lifetime of tobacco dependence."

More youths used e-cigarettes than any other tobacco product in 2014, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In addition to calling for FDA control of e-cigarettes, the AAP recommended that smoke-free laws expand to include e-cigarettes. The group recommends that use of any tobacco or nicotine products, including e-cigarettes, be banned in all workplaces, schools, dormitories, bars, restaurants, health care facilities, sidewalks, parks, recreational and sports facilities, entertainment venues and multi-unit housing.

"The jury on e-cigarettes remains out, but it is clear that carcinogens and potentially harmful substances are nonetheless present in this alternate nicotine delivery system," said Dr. Jack Jacoub, director of thoracic oncology at Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center's MemorialCare Cancer Institute in Fountain Valley, Calif.

Jacoub, who was not involved with the policy recommendations, said that these bans "would highlight that using e-cigarettes is a potentially harmful thing to do and hopefully will emphasize to teens, young adults and parents that one should not be reassured that it is safe."

Other policy recommendations include a ban on Internet sales of e-cigarettes, a tax on e-cigarettes at the same rate as traditional cigarettes and a requirement for adult ratings on any entertainment depicting e-cigarette use.

The AAP also recommended banning advertising of tobacco products and e-cigarettes in all media, including television, radio, print, billboards, signs and online, and in stores where children and teens might see them.

Another major recommendation called for child-resistant packaging for liquid nicotine. Poison control centers receive more than 200 calls per month for accidental ingestion of nicotine for e-cigarettes, the AAP noted, and one toddler died last year from swallowing some.

"Toddlers and young children love to explore new things and to put things in their mouths, so it is imperative that packaging and childproofing be done to enhance the safety of their environments," Fisher said. "This is analogous to having childproof caps on pill bottles."

October 26, 2015

Vaping: Is It Really As Good As They Claim?

Vaping is a healthy alternative to smoking

After smoking for 30 years, Tammy Hosfield quit in May 2014. She had been smoking two packs a day — two to three cigarettes an hour.

“I tried the patch, nicotine gum, Chantix. I even called the Quit Line,” she said. “Nothing worked for me.”

Hosfield finally quit smoking after family members bought her a vaporizer — a refillable, non-disposable e-cigarette.

“After using the vape, I never touched a cigarette again,” she said. “It was just easy for me. It had the hand-to-mouth feel that the gum and patches just didn’t have.”

Over the past 18 months, Hosfield has cut her nicotine consumption in half. She has plans to quit vaping entirely.

Like Hosfield, many smokers have turned to vaping as either a mechanism for quitting smoking or because they believe it’s healthier than cigarettes. Yet others are concerned that vapes are marketed to teens and need to be regulated.

Meanwhile, their popularity is growing.

The Montana Department of Health and Human Services reports that e-cigarette use doubled among middle and high school students from 2011 to 2012 and quadrupled among U.S. adults from 2009 to 2010.

A DPHHS survey of Montanans found that 2 percent of respondents were currently using e-cigarettes, and 11 percent reported having used e-cigarettes in the past. The survey also found that 56 percent of respondents who used e-cigarettes used them to quit or reduce cigarette use. The other commonly reported reason was “to try something new.”



Vape Bar and SamplesA Chinese pharmacist named Hon Lik first developed e-cigarettes in 2003 as a healthier alternative to smoking tobacco. He came up with the e-cigarette after his father, a heavy smoker, died of lung cancer. They’ve been on the U.S. market since 2007.

Vaporizers like Hosfield’s work by using a battery to heat a liquid called e-juice that can, but does not always, contain nicotine. The liquid evaporates, and the user inhales the vapor. The battery is usually controlled by a button that the user pushes while inhaling. Non-refillable, disposable e-cigarettes, often referred to as “cigalites,” more closely resemble cigarettes and are commonly sold in gas stations and tobacco shops, while vaporizers are typically sold online or in specialty shops.

Ron and Deanna Marshall of Bozeman opened their two local vape shops, Freedom Vapes, after they both successfully quit smoking using vaporizers two years ago. The couple runs their Bozeman location, and their son manages the Belgrade shop.

“Probably 95 percent of the people who come into our shops are looking for a way to quit smoking,” Ron said.

Despite some smokers having success quitting using vaporizers, Dr. Greg Holzman, state medical officer, said e-cigarettes have not yet been sufficiently evaluated to determine their effectiveness as a stop-smoking tool.

“Let’s get e-cigarettes approved by the FDA, and then we’ll have this conversation,” Holzman said.

Rather than using e-cigarettes, DPHHS suggests calling the Montana Tobacco Quit Line for free or reduced-cost access to FDA-approved quitting aids, such as nicotine gum, patches or lozenges.

Dominic Palazollo, professor of physiology at Lincoln Memorial University in Tennessee, studies e-cigarettes and e-liquids. He believes they are just as effective as any FDA-approved smoking cessation aid.

Smokers, he said, are more apt to vape because it doesn’t require a prescription, unlike many FDA approved aids. Plus, he said, and vaping is more cost-effective for people who do not have access to resources like the Quit Line.

E-juice is cheap because it is not regulated by the federal government and currently isn’t taxed as a tobacco product — though some state and local governments have begun regulating vapor products.

“The same amount of nicotine that you might purchase in a bottle of e-liquid that cost you $20 might cost you hundreds of dollars with FDA-approved methods of nicotine replacement,” Palazollo said.



The feds don’t regulate e-cigarette marketing or e-juice flavors. They don’t regulate the use of e-cigarettes inside buildings or prevent minors from buying vaping products. The only statewide e-cigarette law prohibits minors from using or buying vaping products.

Despite the state law, DPHHS worries that e-cigarettes are under-regulated, and this may encourage minors and young people to begin vaping. In particular, the department hopes to see Montana regulate the flavors used in e-liquids.

“If you’re marketing gummy bear and fruit punch, I don’t think that’s marketed to a 45-year-old man,” said Stacy Campbell, the department’s healthy lifestyles supervisor.

But the owners of Freedom Vapes beg to differ.

“Let’s have this conversation in the aisle of our local liquor store,” Ron Marshall said. “They have raspberry, blueberry, chocolate, all kinds of flavored alcohol drinks. Why? Because adults like sweet stuff too.”

The Marshalls testified in Helena on behalf of the Montana vaping industry in January and succeeded in preventing vapor products from being labeled as tobacco products. They intend to visit the Legislature again in 2017 to defend their right to use flavoring in their e-juice products.



Bozeman High School resource officer Mark Van Slyke said vaping is more popular than smoking.

“We do see e-cigarettes a lot, but from last year to this year, overall, smoking has gone down,” he said.

Van Slyke said he hasn’t issued a single minor in possession ticket for cigarettes this year, which is highly unusual. He said there have been a few vaporizers confiscated by the school, as they are not allowed on school grounds, but no tickets have been issued for minors in possession of vaping products.


“I’d like to think people are just quitting altogether,” Van Slyke said, but he suspects students may be leaving their vaporizers at home because the equipment can be expensive, and they wouldn’t want it confiscated.

Professor Palazollo said many teens who are attracted to vapor products are the same teens who would have otherwise begun smoking cigarettes.

“I’d be willing to bet that their parents smoke. And they’re thinking it’s less harmful than cigarettes, so they vape instead. And they’re right because vaping is less harmful than cigarettes,” Palazollo said.

Most scientists agree with Palazollo that vaping is less harmful than cigarettes. The British Department of Health released a report in August that urged smokers to switch to e-cigarettes, claiming that they are 95 percent less harmful than smoking tobacco. The report also supported the claim that e-cigarettes are useful stop-smoking tools.

Palazollo said the conversation among scientists is no longer about whether e-cigarettes are less harmful than tobacco cigarettes. The majority of e-cigarette research is focused on the harm e-cigarettes can cause and whether they can help people quit smoking, he said.

The four ingredients in most e-juices are propylene glycol, glycerin, nicotine and flavoring. Ron Marshall of Freedom Vapes said all ingredients used in the store’s e-juices are FDA-approved. With the exception of nicotine, the FDA labels all the ingredients as “generally recognized as safe.”

“I hate big tobacco as much as anyone. But we’re not selling tobacco. We’re trying to help people quit smoking,” he said. “If vaping would have been around 40 or 50 years ago, how many parents and grandparents would still be with us?”

The Marshalls are disappointed to see pushback from health officials because the couple believes e-cigarettes will play a major role in helping smokers quit and improving public health.

“Montana Quit Line is our biggest enemy right now. And it’s so sad that they are fighting us like this because I’ve seen so many people quit smoking with the vape,” said Deanna. “The reason I love this job so much is because someone will come in here, and they’re so frustrated because they’ve tried everything to quit smoking, and nothing’s worked. They never think that vaping is going to work either. We set them up with a starter kit, and they never touch a cigarette again. Rarely do you get someone who still smokes.”



Twenty-nine-year-old Nate Stansfield is one smoker who continuously struggles with quitting, even with the use of a vaporizer. Like many smokers, he tried nicotine gum and lozenges before ever trying e-cigarettes.

Stansfield was able to quit smoking for periods of time using vaping, but he believes he hasn’t quit smoking completely because vaping products were not totally safe or reliable when he started using them in 2011 to cut down his 14-year, pack-a-day smoking habit.

“Until last year, vaping equipment was laborious and unreliable,” Stansfield said. “Now days, anyone who wants to quit smoking can go into a vape shop, buy a starter kit for around $60, and have everything they need to vape reliably and safely.”

Because of improvements in vaping equipment, Stansfield plans to quit smoking with vape in the near future. He said he knows dozens of people who have quit smoking using the new, improved vaping technology.

“I only know a handful of people like myself who have not been able to quit smoking cigarettes entirely using a vape,” Stansfield said. “My highest hope for quitting smoking is vaping. It’s just the easiest thing for me to transition to.”

In the past, he has quit for up to six months with the aid of a vape. He is confident in his ability to quit smoking with a vape now that the technology has improved, he said.

“The biggest thing that vaping has proved to me is that I can get through the day without a cigarette,” Stansfield said. “I want to make sure that the option to vape is around to help people quit smoking. I don’t want to see local vape shops taxed out of business because of e-cigarette regulation.”

September 22, 2015

Rahm Emanuel Is Trying to Gouge Vapors with More Taxes

Rahm Emanuel raises taxes

Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Tuesday will call for property tax increases totaling $588 million over the next four years, part of an unprecedented series of tax and fee hikes he wants to shore up police and fire pension funds and balance the budget.

Five months after voters gave him a second chance, Emanuel will deliver the biggest budget speech of his tenure. He'll try to sell Chicagoans — and at least 26 aldermen — on the notion that digging deep into their wallets is the right move to reset the city's financial course.

About $543 million of the record property tax increase would help shore up woefully underfunded police and fire pension funds, a bill that's been looming for years and is now coming due. Another $45 million would go to Chicago Public Schools construction. To balance the budget, Emanuel wants a new monthly garbage-hauling fee, new taxes on ride-sharing and taxi trips, the first-ever taxes on electronic cigarettes and increases in building permit fees.

Even if he wins approval of all the tax hikes, Emanuel's $7.8 billion budget proposal comes with a measure of risk. It counts on Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner not standing in the way of legislation that gives Chicago more leeway on required increases in police and fire pension payments. If that bill is not enacted, the city could find itself $219 million in the hole next year.

In addition, the mayor hopes to persuade Rauner — who wants to freeze property taxes, not raise them — to sign off on an exemption plan that would soften the blow on city homeowners at the expense of landlords, renters and the business interests the governor has championed.

 

About $543 million of the record property tax increase would help shore up woefully underfunded police and fire pension funds, a bill that's been looming for years and is now coming due. Another $45 million would go to Chicago Public Schools construction. To balance the budget, Emanuel wants a new monthly garbage-hauling fee, new taxes on ride-sharing and taxi trips, the first-ever taxes on electronic cigarettes and increases in building permit fees.

Even if he wins approval of all the tax hikes, Emanuel's $7.8 billion budget proposal comes with a measure of risk. It counts on Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner not standing in the way of legislation that gives Chicago more leeway on required increases in police and fire pension payments. If that bill is not enacted, the city could find itself $219 million in the hole next year.

In addition, the mayor hopes to persuade Rauner — who wants to freeze property taxes, not raise them — to sign off on an exemption plan that would soften the blow on city homeowners at the expense of landlords, renters and the business interests the governor has championed.

On Monday, Emanuel and his top financial aides tried to frame the budget discussion as a matter of bringing stability to city finances after years of dropping credit ratings and financial tactics that papered over budget shortfalls.

"As we continue to grow our economy, create jobs and attract families and businesses to Chicago, our fiscal challenges are blocking our path to even greater success," Emanuel said in a statement. "With this budget, we will build on our progress in charting a new course for Chicago's future, and ensure that we are securing the retirements of our police and firefighters in a way that does not hurt those who can least afford it."

The city property tax hike would be phased in. It would increase by $318 million next year and another $109 million in 2017. The 2018 tab would go up by another $53 million, and the 2019 bill by $63 million. The total increase is $543 million — which Emanuel aides said would add about $543 to the tax bill on a home with a market value of $250,000. The overall tax bill on that home is now about $4,162.

The money would cover increased payments to police and fire pension funds outlined in a bill approved by the House and Senate but not sent to Rauner for fear he would veto it to keep pressure on Democratic legislators to enact the pro-business, union-weakening agenda he wants in return for more money for the state budget.

If Rauner were to veto that legislation, which phases in increased funding for the police and fire pension funds, the city would have to pay $219 million more next year into retirement funds than the amount anticipated in the mayor's budget proposal.

The $20 billion that the city owes to its four employee pension funds, all of which are at risk of going broke in as soon as a decade, has been consistently noted by Wall Street credit rating agencies that have repeatedly downgraded the city's bonds in recent years.

The ratings agencies also have criticized the city's practice of issuing new long-term bonds to pay off old long-term debts, a practice called scoop and toss that pushes debt onto future generations at higher cost. Emanuel has vowed to eliminate those "gimmicks and "shenanigans" over the next four years, even as the City Council Finance Committee on Monday endorsed a new $225 million in scoop-and-toss borrowing.

In his budget address, Emanuel also will ask the council to authorize an additional $45 million property tax increase for CPS that would add another $45 or so next year to the property tax bill of that $250,000 home. The money would go to construction projects to alleviate what the Emanuel administration said was classroom overcrowding. The Chicago Board of Education already has enacted a tax increase that would add another $19 to that property tax bill.

Meanwhile, owners of single-family homes, duplexes and four-flats would be charged for city garbage-hauling service for the first time at $9.50 per dwelling unit. Lower-income senior citizens would pay half that amount. The fee would be tacked on to water bills. It would bring in about $62.7 million a year.

The price of getting into an Uber vehicle or taxi also would go up. The per-ride city fee on ride-share services would increase by 20 cents to 50 cents. The same 50-cent fee would be tacked onto taxi rides for the first time. Ride-share companies also would be allowed to pick up at O'Hare and Midway airports and McCormick Place for the first time — but they'd have to pay a $5 fee for every drop-off and pickup at those locations as well as Navy Pier.

All the taxi and ride-share fees are expected to pump about $48.6 million in new revenue into city coffers.

To assuage taxi drivers and owners who don't want to see companies like Uber get pickup privileges at the airports and McCormick Place, all of which are exclusively served by taxis, Emanuel is proposing to increase taxi fares by 15 percent.

The mayor also will propose a new tax of $1.25 for every container of e-cigarette liquid plus 25 cents per milliliter. That would generate about $1 million, a tax hike aimed more at deterring minors from using the smoking devices than generating money.

Budget officials also said the mayor plans to increase building permit fees, something they said has not been done since 1999. That, they said, would raise about $13 million more.

Beyond the tax hikes, Emanuel also will propose declaring $113 million in "surplus" funds in controversial special taxing districts, with more than half of that going to CPS and about $22 million going to the city. He also will propose other ways to save tens of millions of more dollars by lowering health care costs, reducing the city payroll and other steps.

But the property tax increases and the garbage fees will clearly be the toughest measures to convince a majority of the city's 50 aldermen to vote for because those taxes and fees directly affect the people who vote for them.

"There are people in many parts of the city who may not pay as much as those in more affluent areas, but they also feel like they don't get the same services as in other parts of the city," Ald. George Cardenas, 12th, said Monday after a budget briefing. "So while the property tax increase is a big payment that Springfield has put on us, there is going to be extensive debate in the council about that and the garbage fee, because people are going to have a hard time accepting they have to pay more when they don't necessarily see the benefits of what they pay already."

Emanuel aims to build support by proposing an expansion of state exemptions so owners of homes worth $250,000 or less would not see a property tax increase as a result of the city hike. That's a proposal that could be difficult for Rauner to sign off on, given that it could be viewed as the governor enabling a property tax increase while he's trying to freeze property taxes across the state.

And if the exemption is expanded, the burden of a property tax increase would be shifted to owners of commercial properties and apartment buildings that don't get the tax break, meaning rents likely would go up. About 55 percent of the city's 1 million housing units are rented, according to the most recent U.S. census data.

"Renters pay property taxes," said Michael Mini, executive vice president of the Chicagoland Apartment Association. "They just don't write the check to the treasurer."