It has been a while since our last legislative update, so here’s some information regarding what’s happening with vaping legislation before the Oregon Legislature.

Vape Day at the Capitol

Last year we organized Vape Day at the Capitol which, as it turned out, was instrumental in fending off a lot of the opposition that previously existed against vaping. This year we will be doing it again. The particulars for the event are:

When: Tuesday, February 9, 2016 from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm

Where: The Willamette Heritage Center, 1313 Mill St. SE, Salem, Oregon 97301

Amenities: Coffee in the morning and lunch around noon.

Cost: Free!

Requirement: You must register so we can schedule meetings with your legislators.

This is not a rally or a vape-in. Instead, we will have speakers (some from NWVA and some from the Legislature), and you will get to meet with your State Senator and State Representative privately, or in small groups, to talk about how important vaping is to you. This is the most effective method to influence the way they will vote on legislation that affects the vaping industry. It is important that you register for this event so that we can arrange the meetings with your legislators. To register, go to:

http://www.nwvaporassociation.org/vape-day-2016

It is important that you register early. Please do so right away.

I have attached a .pdf of a flyer for this year’s Vape Day at the Capitol, which you are free to print off and display in your stores.

Legislative Update

Last year we successfully headed off 15 of the 16 proposed bills that would have destroyed or at least severely limited the vaping industry in Oregon. The only bill that passed was HB2546 which outlawed sales of vaping products to people under 18 years of age and it put vaping under the Oregon Clean Air Act, making it illegal to vape anywhere that smoking is illegal. It also identified the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) as the regulating body over vaping. As a result, the OHA was given the assignment of creating the rules governing vaping regulations as specified in HB2546. Throughout the summer and fall, the OHA Packaging and Labeling Rules Committee worked on these rules. NWVA was able to get our lobbyist assigned to that committee. He was able to keep the committee focused on the things they were authorized to rule on and prevented some potentially catastrophic actions by the committee, as you will see below.  The OHA Rules Committee came up with new packaging and labeling requirements for four categories of products:

  • Pre filled e-cigarettes (pens)
  • Fillable vapor products
  • E-liquid containers with nicotine
  • E-liquid containers without nicotine.

Those four categories each have separate packaging regulations. The preliminary regulations were released in the fall but have had some significant changes since then. We will send out these new requirements once the final draft is received. Stay tuned.

The big win on the packaging is that the OHA Rules Committee tried to make the vape pens themselves part of the packaging regulations and thus they would all have had to be in child proof packaging.  If that had happened, all vape pens and accessories (tanks, cartomizers, batteries, etc.) would have been required to be sold in child-proof packaging. Our lobbyist fought hard against this and was able to get a favorable legal opinion through a senator to fight the OHA and prove the new law did not give the OHA the authority to require this. Our lobbyist forced the OHA to remove the child proofing of vape pens from their rules. This was a fantastic win for NWVA on behalf of the vaping industry.

Once it became obvious that HB2546 was going to pass last year in the 2015 legislative session, NWVA began working on getting an exemption to the Oregon Clean Air Act so that Vape Shops would be permitted to allow customers to sample e-liquid in their shops. We originally had an amendment in HB2546 that would do this, but it was rejected by the committee. We then had it included in a proposed bill that would have required licensing of vape shops, but this bill died in committee.

The upcoming legislative session will be a short one, occurring in the month of February (last year’s session was January through June). There is a proposed bill (SB 1559) that will be put forward in the 2016 legislative session which proposes all shops be licensed and have a permit to operate.  At this point, it appears that there are enough votes for this bill to be passed and put into law. It says you must have a physical non-residential store front as one of the requirements.  This bill will require a $300 per year fee for these shops. Last year there was a push to prevent vapor shops from doing business within 1,000 feet of a school, but the currently proposed legislation does not have this requirement. It will also contain a preemption clause which prevents counties and municipalities from regulating their own permitting process. The preemption stops counties and municipalities from changing anything about store location requirements. However, the preemption does not prevent counties and municipalities from imposing a tax or from regulating flavors.

Senate Bill 1559 will go before the senate healthcare committee. There are five Senators on this committee, three Democrats and two Republicans. Through our lobbyist, we have drafted an amendment to that bill.  The amendment allows for customer sampling in the shops and the shops can have up to 10 seats.  It also allows for vaping by customer service employees and e-liquid manufactures in the place of their business for product testing  and customer service issues.

We need three of the five votes on the committee to get the amendment into this bill. The five members are Kruse (R), Knoppe (R), Monnes-Anderson (D), Sheilds (D), and Steiner-Hayward (D).  Our lobbyist has met four of them and we are confident that we will have the votes we need to get this in the bill. Senators Knoppe and Kruse are fully on board and support our amendment.  We only need one more of the three remaining votes and, as I said, we are confident we will get it.

After the 2015 session, Senator Monnes-Anderson met our Lobbyist at a vape shop to see sampling first hand.  She toured the shop and was totally fine with sampling and supported it.  When our lobbyist met her again at the Capitol (after she met with OHA and other opposition) she was still in favor of sampling. However, she just thinks the bill will die on the Senate floor with sampling in it.  She asked our lobbyist to meet all 30 Senators and prove to her there are at least 16 votes (required to pass) and then if there is, she will vote for the amendment.  Our lobbyist is meeting with all floor senators and is currently “counting the votes.”

Senator Steiner-Hayward says she is not against sampling and feels Monnes-Anderson is wrong about it dying on the floor.  Steiner-Hayward is not a huge fan of vaping, but she really wants this permitting bill to pass.  Our lobbyist promised to work the bill full-time to have it pass in trade for her vote for sampling in committee and vowed to work against the bill to kill it without the sampling. She agreed to vote on the sampling and shook his hand. We will see.

That leaves Senator Shields.  Our lobbyist has yet to meet him this year to talk about sampling. However, our lobbyist and Senator Shields have a strong personal relationship and Senator Shields will be speaking at Vape Day at the Capitol on February 9thPlease make sure you register to attend.  Senator Shileds is also retiring from the legislature and this will be his last legislative session. We are hoping he will resist the pressure from the OHA and others and vote for sampling.  Last session he did resist the pressure and voted to extend the inclusion of vaping products in the Oregon Clean Air Act until this past January first.  Without that vote we would have had to cease vaping in the shops last May when the bill was signed by the Governor.

Summary

We had a lot of success last year and are confident that we will be successful in our efforts this year as well. However, we need your support. Please register for Vape Day at the Capitol immediately and join us in our fight for your vaping rights.

Feel free to forward this e-mail to all of your vaping friends in Oregon.

 

 

Will Krause

President, Northwest Vapor Association