Senate Amendment 3547

Senate Amendment 3547, which would prohibit airline passengers from bringing “electronic smoking devices” on planes in their carry-on and checked baggage, will possibly be considered as early as next week (week of April, 11th, 2016). The primary sponsor of SA 3547 is Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), who is an outspoken opponent to e-cigarettes. He has earned a reputation for promoting misinformation about these low-risk products.

If this amendment is accepted, vapers will be forced to leave their batteries and devices at home or surrender them at TSA checkpoints before being allowed through security.This would impose a completely unwarranted and unnecessary expense on travelers who vape.

Beyond the issue of flying with vapor products, the spirit of this amendment (prohibiting lithium ion batteries on board commercial flights) might as well include a ban on carrying ANY portable electronic device in checked or carry-on baggage. Can you imagine not being able to travel with laptops or cell phones?


Comments? Thoughts?

Swisher International loses $44.4 million antitrust lawsuit

Jensen Werley

Swisher International, a major Jacksonville manufacturer of cigarillos and cigars, lost its case against the company Trendsettah on Wednesday and was hit with $44.4 million in damages.

Trendsettah said it entered into an agreement with Swisher to produce its Splitarillo product line, and then Swisher strangled the growth of the products when they were becoming more popular by restricting production.

The jury found Swisher broke its agreement with TSI and that it broke Section 2 of the Sherman Act, ramping up the $14.8 million in damages up to $44.4 million.

Swisher said it was exploring its options in fighting the verdict.

“We strongly disagree with the verdict,” said Joe Augustus, senior vice president of global affairs for Swisher. “We are considering all our options, including appeal.”

Jensen covers logistics, trade manufacturing and defense.

Tobacco Harm Reduction Conference in Brooklyn

The first Tobacco Harm Reduction (THR)   conference in the United States will be held on:

Thursday,   April 21st, 2016

9:00   AM – 4:30 PM

New York City College of Technology

Conference Hall Namm 119

300   Jay Street

Brooklyn,   NY

CASAA’s Executive Director, Julie Woessner, will be presenting   along with other   experts in the field. If you are in or will be visiting the New York City area, you are welcome to attend this event. Registration   is free!

Speakers   include:

·           Shadi Chamany, MD, MPH

·           Kevin McGirr, RN, MPH

·           Helen Redmond, LCSW

·           Christopher Russell, PHD

·           Michael Siegel, MD

·           Riccardo Polosa, MD

The focus of this conference is on tobacco use among people with   serious mental illness and drug users. Speakers include experts in the fields   of policy, science, advocacy, and public health. CASAA is pleased to be a   part of this event and to present the consumer’s point of view on this issue.


·           Efficacy of nicotine patches and medication.

·           Mental illness and nicotine use.

·           e-cigarette and safety.

·           Current e-cigarette controversies.

·           Regulation of e-cigarettes.

Thank you and we look forward to seeing you in Brooklyn!

NATO To Focus On Public Policy, Ends Trade Show

NATO to concentrate its expertise on helping retail members respond to “onerous tobacco restrictions,” being proposed by government officials across the nation.

The National Association of Tobacco Outlets (NATO) announced it will focus its resources exclusively on public policy issues at the local, state and federal levels, and end the NATO Show, an annual trade conference of retailers, wholesalers and other industry partners, as well as high-level government officials.

“After reviewing the association’s purpose and mission, the NATO Board of Directors decided to focus all of the organization’s staff and resources on legislative and regulatory issues which are critical to the success of our member retailers whose livelihoods depend on the legal sale of tobacco products,” said NATO President Frank Armstrong.

NATO is the only national retail trade association that works exclusively on tobacco issues and the association will now concentrate all of its expertise in helping retail members respond to onerous tobacco restrictions which are being proposed by government officials across the country on a seemingly daily basis.

The recent action by the Chicago City Council to impose a new tax on tobacco products (which is pre-empted by state law), raise the legal age to purchase tobacco to 21, ban tobacco product coupon redemption, and mandate minimum product prices and minimum package sizes, highlights the need for NATO to concentrate all of the association’s efforts to protect tobacco retailers from unreasonable, unfair and even unlawful tobacco regulations, Armstrong said.

“We believe the alarming trend among governments to propose punitive rules and regulations aimed at our members and to restrict the rights of adult consumers will continue,” Armstrong said.

NATO’s advocacy efforts will include aligning with other national, state and regional trade organizations to respond to local and state tobacco legislative proposals, reaching out to retailers across the country to expand NATO’s current membership of 51,000 retail stores, planning new educational seminar opportunities for NATO members, offering tobacco legislative and FDA regulatory seminars to other trade associations, and urging the FDA and state and local lawmakers to work with NATO and the industry to educate adults so they are not a social source of tobacco products for underage youth.

As the NATO board considered the association’s future work, it also made a critical business decision that the 2016 NATO Show will be the association’s last.

“While we have been eagerly anticipating this year’s show, there was a consensus among board members that given the many trade shows available to tobacco retailers, this is the right time to focus on NATO’s core expertise in battling oppressive tobacco restrictions,” Armstrong said.

NATO has produced the NATO Show since 2011, bringing together 841 exhibitors, 3,481 retail and wholesale attendees and offering 36 educational seminars, three of which featured keynote addresses by the Director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products.

RYO Endures Market Pressure

RYO Endures Market Pressure

The fortunes of roll-your-own (RYO) tobacco will likely continue to wax and wane in 2016.

Last year was more wane, due mainly to a resurgence in combustible cigarette sales.

Vivien Azer, managing director with the Cowen Group, a diversified financial services firm, explained why RYO’s share dipped in the tobacco category.

“Cigarette industry trends were incredibly robust in 2015, reflecting the healthier lower-income consumer who was benefitting from lower gas prices, lower unemployment and, we have recently argued, higher minimum wages,” Azer said.

What that is doing is causing trade-up in the total tobacco category.

“I don’t know that it’s an accommodative backdrop for RYO given our constructive view for cigarettes in 2016,” Azer said. In other words, what is good for cigarette sales isn’t necessarily good for RYO.

“RYO has historically done well in periods of either economic challenge for the core tobacco user and/or higher tax environment,” Azer said. “We also see further evidence of trade-up with the core tobacco consumer, as we have seen a fair amount of premiumization within the cigarette category itself in 2015.”

A higher tax environment does loom especially as a part of the President’s Budget for Fiscal Year 2017, a new program called Preschool for All has been proposed with funding coming from an increase in both the federal tax on cigarettes and a tax increase on other tobacco products (OTP), including RYO.

Under the proposal, pipe tobacco would increase from $2.83 per pound to $44.23, over a 1,000% increase, and smokeless tobacco would increase over eight times its current rate.

Azer considers it likely there will be a federal excise tax increase on cigarettes. “We have been operating in a very benign excise tax environment since 2010,” Azer said. “But legislative activity does look to be picking up, which would have a bigger affect in 2017, as well.”

RYO in 2016
Tim Greene, category director-tobacco and general manager for Smoker Friendly International LLC in Boulder, Colo., said that his company doesn’t anticipate much change in 2016 from what it has seen over the course of the last two years.

“Our RYO category was flat comparing 2015 to 2014, however we saw a slight increase in margin in 2015, and still consider RYO as a strong and important category,” Green said. “As always the (FDA’s) deeming regulations loom and could dramatically impact this category, but until that happens it’s business as usual for our RYO category.”

Amer Hawatmeh, president of St. George Oil in St. Louis and operator of six Coast to Coast convenience stores, pointed out that rising taxes have hurt RYO sales.

“When they taxed the rolling machine and the paper the same way they taxed tobacco, I said there was no need for it,” Hawatmeh said. “The costs were just too close to (top-brand cigarettes). And my customer base all switched to the sub-generic brands of cigarettes: Decade, Exeter, that kind of fourth-tier tobacco that comes in at $20 a carton, versus $44 like Marlboro, or $48 for others.”

Hawatmeh pointed out that RYO is a category that can help operators build customer loyalty, since they are interfacing individually with buyers and acting on their preferences. Such personal service strategies might go far in alleviating pressure on RYO sales.

Stay tuned to Convenience Store Decisions‘ March issue, where we delve into 38 in-store categories to identify emerging trends and garner retailer analysis to forecast what operators can expect for 2016 and beyond.

Fortune Names Two C-Stores to Best Companies to Work For List

The publication recognizes Sheetz and QuikTrip among 100 companies with exceptional workplace cultures.

NEW YORK – Sheetz, Inc., and QuikTrip are two of the 2016 Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For, according to global research and consulting firm Great Place to Work and Fortune magazine. The companies were selected among hundreds vying for a place on the list this year. QuikTrip has consistently been named to this list since 2003; Sheetz was named to the list one other time in 2014.

Applicant companies opt to participate in the selection process, which includes an employee survey and an in-depth questionnaire about their programs and company practices. Great Place to Work then evaluates each application using its unique methodology based on five dimensions: credibility, respect, fairness, pride and camaraderie.

Creators of the methodology behind the list, Great Place to Work, has found that employees believe they work for great organizations when they consistently trust the people they work for, have pride in what they do and enjoy the people they work with.

“At Sheetz we have a commitment to investing in our people and we strive to achieve this by creating a great environment whether they work at the stores, the office or in the distribution centers,” said Joe Sheetz, CEO of Sheetz, Inc., and a member of the executive committee of the NACS board of directors, in a press release. “Listening to our employees’ concerns and understanding what is important to them in a work environment is crucial to creating a culture that makes Sheetz a great place to work.

“The culture and environment at Sheetz is something we are really proud of, and we work hard to constantly improve the work lives of our employees,” Sheetz said. “Recognition like this proves that a company-wide effort to build and nurture a positive culture is paying off.”

In fiscal 2018, Sheetz is projected to operate 600 stores; with projected capital investment including new and rebuilt unit growth of 8% annually.

“Now more than ever, it is important for companies to prove they are great workplaces,” said Michael Bush, CEO of Great Place to Work. “Top talent expects as much as they seek new opportunities, and customers are demanding it as well as they decide where to spend their dollars. The 100 best workplaces are at the top of the heap in demonstrating they have a high-trust, high-performing culture.”

Organizations named on the list see many benefits that include better financial performance, less employee turnover, higher levels of customer satisfaction and loyalty, more innovative and creative thinking, higher productivity and enhanced public perception.

Will Vapers Really Decide the Next President?

Blog: Will Vapers Really Decide the Next President?

If so, who’s the vaping candidate?

Published in Tobacco E-News


Melissa Vonder Haar, Tobacco Editor, CSP
Duncan Hunter

Duncan Hunter, the viral vaping congressman from California.

OAKBROOK TERRACE, Ill. — Last week was filled with all kinds of vaping viral moments, from a vaping congressman to the announcement that vaporizers would be included in this year’s Academy Awards gift bag. But perhaps most notable—at least for this tobacco writer—was Grover Norquist’s bold claim that vapers will play a vital role in the upcoming presidential election.

“I think that the next election, at the presidential level, and a lot of other levels, is going to be determined by the vaping community,” the founder of Americans for Tax Reform said while attending a two-day lobbying event held by Smoke-Free Alternatives Trade Association (SFATA). “Lifestyle issues win because of the power of the political support behind them.”

I have to admit, I was initially skeptical. Sure vapers are passionate—but do they really have the numbers to sway a national election?

Norquist cited a 10 million (and growing) base of vapers. Which actually could represent the difference between victory and defeat: Wikipedia informs me that in 2008, President Obama won the popular vote by 9,550,193 votes; that number dropped to 4,998,296 votes in 2012.

Obviously there’s a lot more at play here: the Electoral College, not the popular vote, actually determines the presidential race and there’s no way to determine how many of those 10 million vapers are “fresh” voters (as in they wouldn’t be voting for a certain candidate regardless of their stance on vaping). I fully acknowledge that.

But still, it’s pretty impressive that the vaping community could feasibly make a difference come November.

Which brings me to my second question: Who’s the “vaping candidate”?

SFATA executive director Cynthia Cabrera seemed to indicate the Republican candidate—whomever it may be—is the clear choice. She told the Washington Examiner that vapers are so politically engaged because of Democratic threats to tax, regulate and maybe even ban the vaping segment.

“This is a viable alternative that needs to be promoted,” she said, citing the irony that Democrats support marijuana use and sales but frown on tobacco-free vaping.

Now I’m admittedly a liberal New Yorker, but I’m not sure I agree. To date, vaping has not been brought up at any of the Republican or Democratic debates; perhaps one (or more) of the candidates has an official position on vaping, but if so, I haven’t been able to find it via Google.

Yes, Republicans have historically been more on the “side” of tobacco companies when it comes to regulations—but that’s hardly a steadfast rule (hello Michael Bloomberg, who is the one clear “anti-vaping candidate” should he decide to enter the race).

As I go through the still insanely large list of candidates on both sides, I’m not sure there’s much evidence one way or another. I’m sure I could make a case, but I fear it would be based on my own feelings about any particular candidate. That is unless Duncan Hunter, that viral vaping congressman from California, throws his hat into the ring.

Ultimately, I fear Norquist is kind of right and kind of wrong: The vaping community could sway a presidential election, but they need a truly pro-vaping candidate to get behind. Which probably won’t happen in this election cycle. Although if any of the candidates are reading this article, in which case, please reach out, I’d love to hear your thoughts on vaping!

Melissa Vonder Haar, author of the Smokes & Mirrors blog, is senior editor/tobacco coordinator of CSP magazine. Contact her at

Hawaii Breathes New Life into Tobacco Debate

State becomes the first to raise its legal smoking age to 21. Will more follow suit?


Kristina Peters, Assistant Managing Editor, CSP – September 2015

Hawaii captured headlines June 19 after Gov. David Ige signed legislation making the nation’s 50th state the first to prohibit the sale, purchase, possession or consumption of tobacco products (including electronic cigarettes) for anyone younger than 21 years old.

The measure—effective Jan. 1—could potentially have a domino effect as several other states look to pass similar bills. Contenders include Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and California, which all have pending 21-and-older tobacco legislation. (Similar measures have failed in several states, including Rhode Island, Oregon and Utah. For more on local regulations, see p. 134.)

But first, lawmakers must consider the potential consequences of raising the legal age to buy and use tobacco products and whether such action would increase or decrease underage use.

Ongoing Debate

Experimentation with tobacco almost always begins at a young age: Among adults who have ever smoked cigarettes daily, 86.9% tried their first cigarette by age 18 and an additional 11.5% tried their first cigarette between ages 18 and 26, according to the 2014 Surgeon General report “The Health Consequences of Smoking—50 Years of Progress.”

This early exposure often leads to greater levels of nicotine dependency and continued smoking beyond adolescence, as further shown in the Surgeon General report: More than 64% of adult smokers began to smoke daily by age 18, and 22.7% began to smoke daily between ages 18 and 26.

It is for these reasons organizations such as the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids approve of raising the age of sale for tobacco products to 21. Vince Willmore, vice president of communications for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Washington, D.C., says the agency “strongly supports” such measures and encourages other states and communities to adopt them.

Increasing the sale age, Willmore says, “will reduce tobacco use among youth and young adults—age groups … that are heavily targeted by the tobacco industry.”

But NATO executive director Thomas Briant cautions that raising the legal age “may cause some underage youth to seek out tobacco products for the very reason that they are not allowed to buy and use them. … This could lead to youth relying more heavily on social sources of tobacco products (friends, family members, strangers) and undermine the goal of reducing tobacco use by youth.”

According to a study released by the Journal of School Health in August 2014, 86% of underage youth obtain cigarettes from these social sources.

But the Institute of Medicine says a higher tobacco age limit will likely mean a smaller network of legal-age smokers for nonsmoking youth to obtain tobacco products from. If all states were to raise the minimum age to 21, the institute says, there would be a 12% decrease in cigarette-smoking prevalence across the nation by 2100.

Alcohol Parallel

Raising the legal-age limit of tobacco to 21 draws a comparison to the legal-age limit of alcohol.

According to the National Youth Tobacco Survey and the Youth Risk Behavior Study—both conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC)—alcohol use is more prevalent among teenagers than cigarette use, despite its legal-age limit of 21 in the United States.

The studies found smoking among high school students was at 9.2% in 2014 (down from 15.8% in 2011), while drinking alcohol was at 34.9%.

“A conclusion can be drawn that mandating an age of 21 for the purchase and consumption of alcohol has not created an impediment for more than one-third of minors who are currently consuming alcohol,” Briant wrote in a recent Tobacco E­News story. “This … raises the more serious health-related question of whether such a change of purchase could actually result in an increase in underage tobacco use.”

More States to Follow?

But the issue is just as much of a matter of personal rights, with the argument being that Americans are given other responsibilities at age 18.

“Personal rights are important because government and society impose responsibilities and duties on those who have reached the age of 18, and the magnitude of those obligations should also allow a person of adult age to choose what legal products they desire to purchase,” Briant wrote.

Some of these responsibilities include voting, military service, marriage, divorce, candidacy for public office and prosecution as an adult for crimes committed.

However, personal rights aside, it seems most Americans approve of a 21-and-older tobacco age limit.

Three out of four American adults—including seven in 10 cigarette smokers—favor raising the minimum age of sale for all tobacco products to 21, according to an article by the CDC. While an overwhelming majority of adults favored the policy overall, favorability is slightly higher among older adults and adults who never smoked. In contrast, 11% of adults strongly opposed making 21 the legal age of sale, while 14% somewhat opposed such measures.

If more states were to follow Hawaii’s lead, it could come at a cost for retailers no longer able to sell tobacco products to anyone age 18, 19 or 20, depending upon the state’s previous age limit. (Alabama, Alaska, Utah and New Jersey all have tobacco age limits of 19.) Until then, advocates, opponents and retailers alike will closely watch what happens in Hawaii after the new year.

Components of Hawaii’s Tobacco Law

Beginning Jan. 1, Hawaii will prohibit the sale, purchase, possession or consumption of tobacco products (including electronic cigarettes) for anyone younger than 21 years old. Here’s a look at other components of the law.

  • No grandfather clause: Eighteen- and 19-year-olds who can smoke legally now will not be able to next year.
  • Fines for retailers: Stores caught selling tobacco products to minors will be fıned $500 for the fırst offense and $500 to $2,000 for each violation after that.
  • Fines for minors: Anyone under age 21 caught using tobacco products will be fıned $10 for the fırst offense and $50 for subsequent offenses. Violators also may have to perform 48 to 72 hours of community service