Last year, the Hawaii Senate Ways and Means Committee briefly considered a bill that would have taxed e-cigarettes at 70% wholesale. Thanks to tireless energy from over 1,000 harm reduction advocates, the Ways and Means Committee voted unanimously to not tax e-cigarettes.
Having failed in their attempt to tax e-cigarettes, several Hawaii legislators have co-sponsored HB1321. If enacted, HB1321 would ban vaping in nearly every location in Hawaii where smoking is currently banned. [full text of HB1321] The only exceptions would be bars that don’t serve food, tobacco retail stores, private residences not used for child care or health care, and motel rooms if permitted by the operator.
Currently HB1321 is before the House Committee on Consumer Protection & Commerce and the House Committee on Health.
What to say:
1. You strongly oppose HB1321 because there is no public health benefit to banning the use of smoke-free electronic cigarettes in public places.
2. Tell your story on how switching to an e-cigarette has changed your life.
3. Explain how smoking bans are enacted to protect the public from the harm of secondhand smoke, but electronic cigarettes and smoke-free tobacco products have not been shown to cause harm to bystanders. Smoke-free tobacco products have never been implicated in any adverse health effects to bystanders. All evidence to date shows that the extremely low health risks associated with electronic cigarettes is comparable to other smokeless nicotine products.
4. Let them know that vapor does not behave in the same manner as smoke. There is no “side stream” vapor like the side stream smoke coming from the lit end of a cigarette and unlike cigarette smoke, the vapor is virtually odorless and dissipates quickly. There is also no ash or litter. Because of these facts, it is not difficult for people to differentiate between smoking and use of a smoke-free e-cigarette.
5. Inform them that the ability to use electronic cigarettes in public spaces will actually improve public health by inspiring other smokers to switch. Surveys of thousands of users indicate that the majority of those who switch very quickly completely replace tobacco cigarettes with the electronic cigarettes, reducing their health risks by 98-99%. So even if smokers think they are using electronic cigarettes just for indoor use, the chances are high that they will stop using tobacco cigarettes altogether
6. Tell them that by switching to a smokeless product, you have greatly reduced your health risks.
7. Note that the official description of HB1321 on the Hawaii Legislature’s website is deceitful. The website asserts that HB1321 would “permit” the use of e-cigarettes in certain public places. This falsely implies that using an e-cigarette in a public place is already illegal in Hawaii.
8. Direct them to the CASAA.org website for more information.
9. If you are from Hawaii, make sure to point it out by leaving your address and/or phone number. Additionally, reach out to your legislators personally and let them know why you strongly oppose HB1321. Please don’t just send an e-mail — these are your representatives and they should be happy to speak to you on the phone or meet you in person.
Who to contact
Public comments in opposition to HB1321 should be addressed and sent to:
Members of the House Committee on Consumer Protection & Commerce
Members of the House Committee on Health