SFATA is heavily focused on defending the industry’s ability to remain profitable in the U.S. marketplace. As a national trade association, we represent and advocate on behalf of our member companies at the federal level as our core mission. But, we will also engage at the state and local levels. Because things are moving quickly and the stakes are high, we take this responsibility very seriously.
SFATA retains a highly experienced federal lobbyist and our Executive Director is a former lawmaker. Together, they work to get reasonable regulations for this industry by meeting with Congressmen, staff, and federal agency decision makers, as well as participating in several coalition efforts with other stakeholders in the vapor products industry.
In order to keep our members well informed, our federal lobbyist communicates directly to all SFATA members in a weekly federal update. And, our Executive Director regularly alerts members when a specific activity on their part will be most useful to the work they are doing in Washington, DC. We realize our members can’t always be on the ground in our nation’s capital city, so we keep their voice heard before policy makers, make sure they are aware of what is going on, and bring them directly into the action when needed.
In some of the 50 states, SFATA also retains lobbyists to advocate for our members at the state level. As a former state senator and government affairs professional, our Executive Director keeps our lobbyists well trained, in compliance with all state ethics laws, and informed about the ever-changing environment in which our industry must operate. While our organization’s mission is national, we do provide top-rate lobbyist management services at no additional cost in states where our members locally exhibit a commitment to funding this additional representation.
Our Policy Positions
We believe the public interest, as well as our member companies, are best served when vapor products remain accessible, attractive, and affordable. To accomplish these goals, SFATA takes the following policy positions:
Age-to-Purchase: SFATA actively supports prohibiting sales of vapor products to minors. However, we vehemently oppose misguided efforts to also prohibit sales to adults. We will actively oppose bills that seek to prevent legal access to our products for adults by raising the legal age to purchase higher than that at which Americans can also enter into legally binding contracts, build financial debt, get married, be drafted into military service, or be held accountable for their actions as adults in the courts. Putting this decision to consume non-intoxicating recreational products, which have not been found to cause illness (to them or people around them), out of reach for any adult is a ridiculous overstep of the proper role of government in American lives.
Taxes: SFATA opposes all additional tax on our products beyond the normal taxes applied to any other consumer electronic products sold. These additional taxes, or “excise” taxes, are proposed on products which exhibit serious harm to the public due to community disruption or health damage that results from a consumer using a given product. Our products do no such damage and our customers should not be burdened with paying an extra tax. Our products, in fact, likely enhance the public experience by eliminating second-hand smoke, ending house fires caused by burning cigarettes, and healthcare costs for smoking-related disease in the Medicaid population. To be clear, an excise tax on vapor products is nothing more than an effort by lawmakers to fill their state coffers on the backs of former smokers, who apparently are never allowed to stop paying cigarette excise taxes… even after they stop buying cigarettes.
Licensing: SFATA opposes abusive licensing practice that creates unnecessary burden on vapor businesses. While we do not oppose general business licenses that are required of any type of business in the jurisdiction, we actively oppose efforts to require “tobacco” licenses for vapor retailers, wholesalers, or manufacturers. We also oppose in-practice industry bans that parade as a simple license, but create enormous barriers to market entry either financially with high fees or through arbitrary limits on location, density, or maximum number issued.
Vaping Area Restrictions: SFATA supports the right of private property owners to determine whether vaping is permitted on their property. We oppose government’s efforts to force an indoor vaping ban on private property, prohibit vaping outdoors in public parks and other outdoor public spaces, or create bans on vaping inside residences and vehicles. There is no demonstrated increase in disease risk created for by-standers near a vapor product. To be clear, any attempt by the government to limit vaping merely because it “looks like” something else is an unacceptable limitation of liberty.
Internet Sales: SFATA supports responsible retail practices, which includes use of 3rd – party age verification software to prevent sales to minors. We oppose outright bans or requirements for adult signature on delivery which would drive up costs to our customers, add tremendous inconvenience to their receipt of orders, and prevent adults under 21 from accessing the online marketplace.
Sampling: SFATA supports sampling of products to age-verified adult consumers only. While the FDA has now banned free samples to consumers, we will continue to support the notion that an adult smoker seeking an acceptable alternative to smoking needs to be able to try out new technology and different flavors before buying. We oppose all efforts to ban sampling entirely. We feel it is an important part of the smoker’s transition experience and therefore key to making the complete switch to far less harmful vapor products from combustible cigarettes. And, it allows our member companies to demonstrate the top quality products they offer to adult consumers, which is an important part of the sell.
Flavors: SFATA staunchly opposes flavor bans. While we agree that marketers should not try to name their products to sound like popular candy names (or infringe on trademarks), we also know that adults do love flavors. The ability to vape something that adults cannot eat regularly is a powerful draw to take a smoker away from cigarettes completely by causing them to “lose the taste” for cigarette smoke all together. Attractive flavor options likely help with transition success away from cigarettes and probably helps prevent relapse. Surveys demonstrate repeatedly that the availability of a wide selection of flavors is considered key by past smokers who successfully and completely switched to vapor. The notion that only children like things that taste good and adults couldn’t possibly want sweet dessert flavors is preposterously illogical and offensive to pastry chefs everywhere. Our industry makes delicious flavors to sell to adults only because that is what the adult market demands.
Zoning: SFATA respects the need for city planners to properly locate business and residential properties as well as their need to accommodate traffic patterns. We do oppose, however, the use of zoning policy to drive respectable vapor businesses out of areas where they are able to service adult consumers well. Arbitrary limits on the number or location of vapor businesses that treats these companies differently than any other retailer that sells, among other things, products designed for adult consumers is unacceptable.
Employment: SFATA opposes any barrier to employment posed by mere presence of nicotine in their bodies. Nicotine is not an intoxicant, does not affect other employees who do not use it at all, and is a naturally occurring and relatively harmless substance that has roughly the equivalent danger to the individual’s health as caffeine. While private companies may set any policy they desire, possibly limiting the pool of highly qualified candidates they can attract to their businesses at their own peril, government entities absolutely do not have this same right. Taxpayer funded entities should not be permitted to exclude employees from equal opportunities due solely to their use of a completely legal substance and SFATA will oppose any law or ordinance that seeks to establish these employment practices for governmental organizations.
Insurance: SFATA opposes government incentives and mandates under insurance law to encourage increased premiums or denial of coverage for vapers by testing their bodies for signs of nicotine and labeling them as “smokers” should traces be found. Any additional risk, which is assumed to be attributed to smoking, should not be automatically attributed to those who consume nicotine in a non-combustible product. Simple alternative tests do exist to properly determine if an individual is a smoker and SFATA supports the use of these in any case where there is an added cost, or denial of benefits, for smokers.
Labeling: SFATA supports responsible labeling practices that give consumers a proper description of the contents of an e-liquid bottle. We oppose state or local labeling laws because of the financial and logistical burden this places on our members who sell into multiple jurisdictions. We also oppose laws at any level of government that require warnings that are untrue, not science-based, or that exaggerate concern such that they may frighten consumers needlessly.
Packaging: SFATA supports responsible packaging that is child-resistant in order to avoid accidental ingestion of e-liquid if a child is left unattended with the bottle. Specifically, we support a national law to require e-liquid to be sold in packages as outlined in the federal Poison Prevention Packaging Act of 1970 to provide for consistency when selling in multiple states.
Batteries: SFATA supports and encourages public education on the proper care and handling of all batteries. While the incidence of injury from overheating batteries is low in vapor products, relative to many other consumer electronics that use the same type of batteries, we take any accident very seriously. Proper storage, charging, and use patterns are important practices for all batteries that consumers should understand. SFATA opposes battery law proposals if they single out vapor products from other devices like cell phones and laptop computers for enforcement. SFATA also opposes defining batteries as “tobacco” and regulating them as such, simply because they can be used to power a vapor device.
Tobacco Definition: SFATA opposes defining our products as “tobacco” and attempting to regulate or tax them equally. Our products are an innovative electronic technology and efforts to apply regulations designed for what is largely an agricultural product will never work. Further, aligning a product that is the solution to a public health scourge with the cause of it is illogical and shortsighted. Vapor products are a new product which require a new definition in the law and their own unique regulations.