Jay Inslee’s Continued War On Vaping: WA State Regulates
On April 19th, 2016, Jay Inslee signed Senate Bill 6328 into law. Though it this bill is not as draconian as House Bill 1645 or House Bill 2211, it is a step in the wrong direction. If the vaping industry is to survive its fledgling years, we need to understand these laws, and proactively defend our right to vape.
Jay Inslee and Washington State are veterans in anti-vaping laws. Since the genesis of the industry, a complicated (yet concerted) confederacy of well-funded agencies and individuals have tried to stifle vaping’s exponential growth. The reasoning is sensational, and often relies on bunk science and propaganda to push an anti-vaping agenda.
(Here is a link to the full text of SB 6328.)
What This Means For Washington Vapers:
- Vendors need a special license to sell vaping hardware and/or e-juice
- No-sales-to-minors signage is required at vape shops
- Revenue generated from licensing will go toward enforcement of regulations
- Childproof packaging is required on all bottles of e-juice
- Vaping is prohibited in selected locations
- Vaping products fall under the Liquor and Cannibis Board
Mt Baker Vapor has been proactive in keeping our products out of the hands of minors, and obeying the law of the land. These new regulations will not seriously affect Mt Baker Vapor’s presence in Washington. We operate a retail shop in Lynden, Washington that will continue to provide hardware and e-juice to customers, while complying with Washington State laws. Shipments will continue to the state of our origin.
Should We Be Worried?
Yes and no. Since this Senate Bill is much more reasonable than earlier bills, complying with this bill is no real obstacle. The precedence raises concerns, though.
Jay Inslee and Washington State are no strangers to anti-vaping campaigns. Washington State has a vested interested in revenue generated from cigarette sales and taxes. This is not the final word on vaping regulation in Washington State: this is a stepping-stone to harsher laws. This may seem cynical, but it holds water when you regard the turbulent history of tobacco and legislation.
The Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement:
In the 1950s smokers began to strike back against tobacco companies. Legal battles waged over the next four decades, in which ailing consumers claimed tobacco companies were negligent in their manufacturing, that their products were unfit for use, that they failed to inform their users of the risks and dangers, they committed fraud, and they violated state consumer protection statutes. Lawsuits piled up against the tobacco behemoths.
Tobacco companies claimed the following:
- Tobacco is not harmful.
- The cancer came from other sources, and not cigarettes.
- Smokers assume the risk of cancer when the decision to smoke is made.
Not a single plaintiff won until Cipollone v. Liggett in the 1980s, but an appellate court reversed the decision. The 1990s and early 2000s brought Consumer Protection to a new level, when a California smoker with inoperable lung cancer was awarded $51.5 million from Philip Morris. Forty states sued the tobacco companies under state consumer protection and antitrust laws.
With this legal precedent set, Big Tobacco scrambled to settle these cases. When the Master Settlement Agreement was established in 1998, the following rules were established:
- No marketing cigarettes to children
- Big Tobacco agreed to pay annuities to the states to compensate cigarette-induced health costs, to the tune of $206 billion over the first 25 years
- The top three tobacco industry organizations were to disband
- Funds from the annuities would establish educational programs aimed at youth
With hundreds of billions of dollars on the line, this was a truly momentous agreement.
What Went Wrong?
When the Master Settlement Agreement was put into place, State Governments squandered the money. A handful of states (including California and New York) sold their annuities as bonds to Wall Street, based on projected cigarette sales over the first 25 years. Almost all of the 46 states involved in the MSA securitized the money, and reallocated the funds to issues completely unrelated to smoking prevention. In a biting slice of irony, North Carolina spent $42 million on modernizing tobacco farming and marketing.
For the states that sold the bonds, they turned $22.6 billion in bonds into $573 million in cash. For that $573 million in cash, they owe $67.1 billion down the line. Michigan will have to pay back 1,800 times as much money as they borrowed. From an accounting standpoint, this is concerning.
It Gets Worse.
State Governments are spending less than 2 cents of each dollar from the MSA on tobacco prevention. Washington State cut its annual budget for tobacco prevention by 90%. Washington State is spending 3.6% of the budget recommended by the CDC for tobacco prevention. This is not unique; only two states out of 46 are utilizing more than half of the CDC-recommended budget.
Here is a depressing bar graph:
As tobacco sales continue to slump, and vaping is rising in popularity, it’s no wonder states like New York and California are pushing out anti-vaping propaganda. Since they are on the hook for the bonds they foolishly sold to Wall Street, they have a vested interest in tobacco revenue. A world of FUD has poured from State Governments in an attempt to scare prospective and current vapers. These Machiavellian tactics give the public the impression that State Government is acting with public health in mind, but if you follow the money, you will see the sinister symbiosis of government and tobacco.
On the surface, the new Senate Bill signed into law by Jay Inslee looks harmless. When you keep the context in mind, you see that this bill is another symptom of a tremendous disease. Until we shine a floodlight on the heinous irresponsibility of State Governments past and present, we can never take a vaping law at face-value.
Constant vigilance, vape fans.