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FL - Take action to stop an online sales ban! (SB 810)
Action Alert

(Updated - 01.30.20)
Two Bills, SB 810 (online sales ban) and  SB 1394 (85% wholesale tax), are scheduled for a committee meeting on 

Monday, February 3, 2020
1:30 PM

Committee on Innovation, Industry, and Technology
Tori Jennings Committee Room, Rm 110
Senate Building Building
Tallahassee, FL


Please take a moment to send a message to committee members. Below, CASAA is providing contact information, talking points, and a prewritten comment that you can customize and paste into your email.

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Note: Florida’s 2020 Legislative Session is scheduled to end on March 13, 2020.
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SB 810 bill sponsors are taking the opportunity to update the state’s minimum tobacco sales age to 21, which is now federal law, to implement a ban on online sales. While some might believe that this will be an advantage for specialty retailers, the reality is that banning online sales only hurts people who don’t have access to a vape shop. Moreover, online age verification platforms are available that are arguably more thorough and reliable than ID checks at a physical point of sale.

Committee Contact Information:

  Phone Email Twitter
Wilton Simpson (R)
Chair
(850) 487-5010 simpson.wilton.web@flsenate.gov @WiltonSimpson
Lizbeth Benacquisto (R)
Vice Chair
(850) 487-5027 benacquisto.lizbeth.web@flsenate.gov @lizbethkb
Rob Bradley (R) (850) 487-5005 bradley.rob.web@flsenate.gov @Rob_Bradley
Jeff Brandes (R) (850) 487-5024 brandes.jeff.web@flsenate.gov @JeffreyBrandes
Travis Hutson (R) (850) 487-5007 hutson.travis.web@flsenate.gov @TravisJHutson
Kathleen Passidomo (R) (850) 487-5028 Passidomo.Kathleen.web@flsenate.gov @Kathleen4SWFL
Randolph Bracy (D) (850) 487-5011 bracy.randolph.web@flsenate.gov @rbracy30
Oscar Braynon (D) (850) 487-5035 braynon.oscar.web@flsenate.gov @oscarjb2
Gary Farmer (D) (850) 487-5034 farmer.gary.web@flsenate.gov @FarmerForFLSen
Audrey Gibson (D) (850) 487-5006 gibson.audrey.web@flsenate.gov @SenAudrey2eet
 
Suggested Talking points to include in your messages, calls, and spoken comments:
(Online sales ban)
  • Share your story with officials about switching to vapor products instead of continuing to smoke. (Be sure to mention any health changes you’ve experienced.)
  • Online sales bans deny access to safer alternatives to people who can’t travel to a vape shop. At the same time, this ban would protect sales of combustible cigarettes which are sold in almost every convenience store and gas station in Florida.
  • Third-party age verification platforms are already required by several states for online sales and are arguably more reliable than face-to-face ID checks.
  • Banning online sales ignores the primary sources of nicotine products for young people. Namely social sources like friends and family and social media platforms like Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram.
(Vapor Taxes)
  • Share your experience with switching to vapor products. If affordability compared to continuing to smoke was a motivating factor for trying vaping or other smoke-free products, be sure to include that in your comments. Conversely, if the already high initial cost of these products delayed your initial purchase, highlight this instead. Be sure to include any changes in your health that you’ve experienced as a result of switching to safer nicotine or tobacco products.
  • Taxes on traditional cigarettes are intended to discourage use. But, e-cigarettes and other smoke-free tobacco products are estimated to be 98 – 99% less harmful than smoking, discouraging use is counter to the goals of reducing smoking rates.
  • Other governments are taking exactly the opposite approach. Public Health England (the government public health agency) recently explicitly endorsed a policy of encouraging people who smoke to switch to e-cigarettes and vapor products (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/e-cigarettes-an-evidence-update).
  • Sin taxes are regressive. People who smoke and those who switch to vaping and other smoke-free alternatives are disproportionately poor and low income people. Sin taxes place unnecessary burdens on an already financially challenged group. To make matters worse, people in the low-income bracket are less likely to be insured and lack access to health care providers. The affordable resources available to these people have low success rates.
  • Imposing a tax on these products will drive consumers to shop in neighboring states that do not have a similar tax. At the same time, consumers will be encouraged to shop online for better deals, sending even more money out of the community. Local businesses will not be able to compete, be forced to close their doors, and jobs will be lost. This is bad for the city/state and will result in less revenue, not more.
  • It is important to note that vapor products are already subject to a general sales tax. 
  • Taxing smoke-free tobacco and nicotine products in a manner similar to how combustible tobacco products are taxed sends a confusing and inaccurate message to would-be adopters that these two very different products present similar risks. The result of this message is that more people, those that otherwise would have switched to a smoke-free product, will be encouraged to continue smoking.


Prewritten Message to Copy and Paste in to Emails and Contact Forms (2399 characters):

I am writing as a voter and taxpayer in Florida urging you to oppose SB 810 and SB 1394, which would ban direct-to-consumer online sales and impose an outrageous 85% wholesale tax on vapor products (e-cigarettes). While I agree that more can be done to discourage young people from buying nicotine products, this legislation goes way beyond what is necessary to enforce Florida’s existing ban on the sale of vapor products to minors. Instead of preventing youth access, this law will deny law-abiding people who smoke access to safer alternatives to combustible tobacco.

Since August of 2016, The Food & Drug Administration has been vigorously enforcing federal regulation which prohibits sales to minors--both in-store and online. The vast majority of online sellers now use a service that checks the age and identity of the purchaser against a third-party government database. Several states such as Illinois, North Carolina, and Ohio require online retailers to use an independent, third-party age verification service that compares information available from public records to the personal information entered by the person during the ordering process that establishes the person is of legal purchase age or older. This requirement is effective in preventing youth access while still allowing adults to legally purchase these life-saving products at their convenience.

While Florida is growing rapidly, there is still much of the state that is off the beaten path. As such, many people who smoke who would benefit from switching to smoke free products do not live near a specialty vapor shop. For those who are unable to travel to the nearest city to buy vapor products, online sales are their most reasonable option. Meanwhile, nearly every convenience store and gas station in the state features combustible tobacco products prominently behind the cash register. In an era where harm reduction strategies are being implemented for other issues, it doesn’t make sense that Florida would make it more difficult for people to access safer alternatives to cigarettes.

Please oppose SB 810 and SB 1394.

I along with my fellow members of The Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association (CASAA) thank you for considering my comments on this issue. I look forward to your continued support in protecting my access to vapor products and would be happy to answer any questions you might have.


 



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