Vaping Rallies Aim To Save Industry
With the recent wave of state laws affecting the vaping industry, business owners and legislators alike are fighting back. But this time will be different, because instead of targeting consumers, vape advocates are going straight to the group that can help them the most: the U.S. government.
The fight seems to be picking up steaming in Wisconsin. Watchdog reported late last week that an industrious entrepreneur is leading the fight in his own state. Christian Berkie, the owner of Johnson Creek Enterprises, is holding the first ever Vape Rally 2016.
The event, which takes place at Berkie’s Hartland, Wisconsin, plant, came after Berkie’s realization that the company he built eight years ago from his kitchen may be finished if government overreach was not tempered with common-sense legislation. That company, which currently employs around 40 people in the surrounding area, would not be able to pay the expensive PMTA fees that will be levied against it soon.
“We make e-liquids. We have over 40 different flavors,” Berkie said in a radio interview on the Vicki McKenna Show, which broadcasts in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Area. He went on to say that: “The FDA is going to require us to submit an application per flavor. That could cost us over $100 million in application fees.”
Companies like Johnson Creek Enterprises can’t pay the enormous fees, which not only include new flavors but any flavors still in existence after the predicate date established by the FDA. This means that all e-liquids on the market are subject to the application process, which will not only push back the launch of a product, thereby limiting sales, but will also render small businesses bankrupt.
Berkie’s rally, which took place last week, had the singular goal of reaching certain members of Congress, and it seems to have worked. Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, was in attendance, as well as United State Representative Duncan Hunter, R-San Diego. Both men are seeing as vaping advocates in their respective bodies of Congress.
While Johnson may not be as well known as an advocate in the vaping community, Hunter definitely is. He was the first and only Congressmen to ever be photographed openly vaping during a congressional hearing earlier this year. He is also established as the biggest fighter for vaping rights in the House of Representatives.
Hunter spoke out about the vaping regulations when he attended a Right to Vape Tour event, which is a cross-country political grassroots campaign aimed at encouraging voters and politicians alike to question the FDA’s overreach. He said that: “For me, this is about freedom — it’s about being what you want to do, be it smoking cigarettes or cigars, or vaping. At some point here in the next year, you’re going to see a situation where it’s illegal to vape, illegal to smoke (tobacco), but it’s okay to smoke weed. I think that’s crazy.”
The Right to Vape Tour recently made a stop in Hartland, Wisconsin, but it has also made a few other important stops as well, including one of its first stops in Colorado. This stop was crucial because Colorado voters will have a very important decision to make this November, and it’s got nothing to do with the presidential election.
No, in Colorado, voters will have to decide on Amendment 72, a proposal which would triple the cigarette excise tax in the state. Westword is reporting that if the amendment passes, Colorado residents will have to pay a whopping $1.75 in taxes per pack.
This may seem like a good thing, considering that vape products are not currently listed in the proposal to receive the tax, but take a closer look: the amendment covers tobacco products, and the FDA considers vape products to be tobacco. This means that even though the measure may not have any effect on vaping right now, it will in the future.
So the American Vape Association’s Right to Vape Tour, which kicked off last Sunday and has already traveled to nine states, made a stop in Denver to discuss the new amendment. Specifically, it discussed how it could negatively impact vape businesses, which provide a lot of the small business jobs that are so welcome in the state.
The tour held a meeting at the Independence Institute, located in Denver, to discuss how Amendment 72 is a problem for the vaping community and to brainstorm ways to encourage lawmakers to considered the industry in a different light. Nearly 50 business owners and vapers attended the event, hoping to find a way to shed more light on how the FDA’s regulations would negatively impact them.
While it is not known if any Colorado state or federal legislators were in attendance during the Right To Vape Tour event, it can be surmised that they will aware of the fact that it took place. Many Colorado vape businesses have already begun discussions with their state legislators about the fact that the FDA regulations will essentially put them out of business, costing the state profits in taxes that help support the budget. Soon, that communication will hit Washington, with several vape businesses already contacting their representatives in both the House and the Senate.
The fight to repeal the predicate date in favor of a more recent date is not over, and as this publication is starting to see, the movement to involve professionals at the legislative level is becoming successful. We will continue to update our readers on any new developments.