April 2016

The Battle Line is Drawn in Indiana

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By Norm Bour

In April 1775, the Battle of Lexington marked the first time blood was shed in a war that changed the world: The American Revolution.

Until that time, since 10 years prior, there was dissention, including one of the most famous protests in history: The Boston Tea Party. That first battle in Lexington, Mass, soon moved to neighboring Concord and set the stage for a new country and a new form of government called Democracy.

Just 77 Americans took on over 700 British soldiers in those initial battles- and they won. This proved that sheer numbers can be overcome for a just cause fueled by passion. Fast forward 241 years and you have a similar battle taking place in Indiana, the 19th state to become part of America.

The Battle of Indiana

It’s not called that, but Indiana may be a catalyst that will become significant in the vaping freedom movement.

Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed bill HB142 last May which is due to become law on July 1, 2016. Among other things the law says:

  • E-liquid manufacturers must obtain a permit from the alcohol and tobacco commission before bottling e-liquid or selling e-liquid to retailers or distributors. This applies to manufacturers both within and outside the state. As of this date there is no process to issue such a permit.
  • Manufacturing facilities must have a security firm certification that the manufacturer meets security requirements. These requirements are not identified yet.
  • Retailers who distribute e-liquid manufactured by a company without a permit are fined, which could effectively eliminate all products.
  • No one listed on the permit can have a felony or controlled substance offense on record and the state can conduct criminal background checks on anyone distributing liquids.
  • Three ten milliliter sample bottles from each batch of two liters or more must be saved for three years and secured in a location with video surveillance.

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There are many more specifics just as bad as these. The problem is, no company has the ability to adhere to all these requirements, which means that effective July 1, 2016, the state of Indiana may be a No Vaping Zone.

The dilemma of Indiana was initially brought to my attention by Vaporz Vault from Hobart, IN., a VapeMentors clients. We discussed the implications of the law in May, 2015 and doubted if the governor would sign it. Though it appeared unconstitutional, monopolistic and wreaked of Anti-Trust, the bill was signed and due to go into effect. It also should be noted that these new guidelines apply only to open tank systems and seem to exclude e-cigarettes.

Enter the Right to be Smoke-Free Coalition

R2B Smoke-Free (http://www.r2bsmokefree.org), as they are called, “is a non-profit, industry-led trade association of e-vapor businesses dedicated to promoting the interests of the industry by advocating for reasonable and responsible laws and regulations, and fighting for the right of vapers to be smoke-free.” That quotation is direct from their site.

Founded by e-liquid company leaders from Cosmic Fog Premium Vapors, VaporShark and Mount Baker Vapor, this grass roots movement is leading the charge in Indiana.

Cosmic Fog CEO, Rob Crossley, when asked how this all started, replied: “The situation in Indiana started the conversation since we were involved with a lawsuit to oppose the bill. We had interest from fellow liquid manufacturers that wanted to join us and next thing you know we had a good sized organization.”

As of Q1, 2016, there are almost two dozen participants, including NicQuid, Ruthless E-juice, KILO and Vapor Bar, and more are coming on board. The fight in Indiana has not been cheap and about $250,000 has been spent in the courts. The organization is open to anyone in the vaping community and contributions are based on what is affordable to each member.

“The battle in Indiana is just one area of focus,” Crossley said, “and there are more fights to take on.”

It should be noted that this is not just a fight of vapers against regulations and goes much deeper. It actually speaks to the Constitutionality of some of the proposed rules that have been proposed. These battles will continue and the only way it will succeed is through collaborative efforts like R2B Smoke-Free.

On Vape Radio show #68 which posted Jan. 14, 2016, I had an interview with noted legal expert Azim Chowdhury from the Washington, DC law firm of Keller and Heckman, LLC about the coalition. “The Indiana case is just the start,” Chowdhury shared, “and is merely a way for us to develop a launch plan.” He was also clear in stating that anyone can join the coalition and any legal will not be a class-action case, but anyone can be involved.

“This must be an industry wide fight and cannot just be one big name taking on the FDA like we have seen in the past.”

To get involved visit www.r2bsmokefree.org.

Norm Bour is the founder of VapeMentors, which offers online educational programs, services & resources for anyone in the vape space, including vape shops, online stores and e-liquid brands. He’s also the host of Vape Radio, the largest vaping radio show in the world with more than 1.2 M downloads. Norm interviews the masters of vape and thought leaders in the vape space. Contact him at norm@VapeMentors.com