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Tennessee Smoke Free Association Calls on Public Health Officials to Find out all the Facts Related to E-Cig Incidents Industry-Standard Vape Products Are Intended to Help Adult Smokers Quit

Tennessee Smoke Free Association Calls on Public Health Officials to Find out all the Facts Related to E-Cig Incidents Industry-Standard Vape Products Are Intended to Help Adult Smokers Quit

 

The Tennessee Smoke Free Association (TSFA), whose small-business members provide industry-standard vape products that are helping adult smokers quit, is calling on public health officials to investigate recent reports of e-cigarette hospitalizations to find out all the facts related to the incidents.

From Dimitris Agrafiotis, Executive Director of Tennessee Smoke Free Association:

“First and foremost, vape products are for adult smokers looking to quit the deadly habit— not teenagers experimenting with unknown substances. Public health officials need to investigate all of the facts surrounding these incidents before assigning a blanket condemnation against industry-standard vape products.”

TSFA is a network of 100+ independent vape shops dedicated to helping adult smokers quit the deadly habit by switching to vaping, which has been found by major medical groups and governments to be 95% safer than combustible cigarettes.

Please see this additional statement, VTA Calls for End to Public Health Hysteria, issued by national partner, Vapor Technology Association, urging public health officials to identify the cause of these incidents before assigning blame and reminding the public never to alter a vapor device designed for vaping nicotine-containing products by attempting to vape anything other than an e-liquid designed to be used with that device.

TSFA 2018 Legislative Conference – December 1

 

The Tennessee Smoke Free Association is holding our 2018 annual pre-legislative conference on Saturday, December 1st. The conference is open to all Tennessee vapor industry. We encourage you to attend!

We are on the verge of creating a Political Action Committee for legislative influence and we will be discussing in depth the licensing bill for independent vapor shops in the state – ATTENDANCE IS IMPORTANT.

Agenda Includes:

  • PAC formation
  • Vapor retailer state licensing
  • Budget Update
  • Lobby update and upcoming session
  • PR Update and upcoming projects
  • Election Results
  • Featured speakers Erika Vick (Bass, Berry, & Sims PLC) and Megan Crips (Crisp Communications)
  • Guest speaker James Jarvis with OHVTA
  • Guest speakers Tony Abboud and Jake Butcher with Vapor Technology Association (VTA)

Coffee and light pastries will be served in the morning, along with a light lunch at noon.

Important: For security reasons, the Pinnacle Building will not allow anyone in that is not on the RSVP list.  Please be sure to RSVP, including the names of each person attending with you, via email to jennie.corley@bassberry.com

We look forward to seeing you there. For questions and information, you may contact 423-903-2023.

Facebook Event information can be found here.

Saturday, December 1st at 10:0o am
Pinnacle Building – Bass, Berry & Sims
Founders Room
150 Third Ave South, Suite 2800
Nashville, TN

TSFA on Capitol Hill at the 3rd Annual VTA Conference

Vapor Technology Association (VTA) held their third annual Vape & the FDA conference on June 26-27. After a welcome message from Executive Director, Tony Abboud, Congressman Ryan Costello (R-PA) kicked off the day’s presentations with his keynote address. VTA continues to feed owners, manufacturers, and distributors a wealth of needed information from professional experts in the industry. After a very long conference, guests were treated to a networking reception in the Lincoln Library at Trump International Hotel.

 

 

The following day, eleven groups representing 27  different states commenced the journey to Capitol Hill to speak to state representatives. Once again, Nicole Crumley and myself had the privilege of representing TSFA, the largest delegation present, alongside several Tennessee business owners. Admittedly, I was ever so apprehensive when I learned that our fearless Dimitris Agrafiotis would be absent for the occasion for the very first time. However, I quickly remembered that nobody in our group is new to presenting the challenges facing our industry, and I immediately had the confidence of Peyton Manning on a Sunday that we would deliver our message with the same smoothness as our Dimi (sans finesse and slightly less hair gel).

 

TSFA Schedule

Like a well-oiled machine and without missing a beat, we moved from office to office conveying our key points to staffers. Our top objectives to get across included:

  • Request for FDA Commissioner Gottlieb to immediately institute a process that will allow manufacturers in the vapor industry to incorporate innovations in safety and quality without the burdensome PMTA process. Other manufacturers globally are advancing in battery safety technology that cannot be adopted in the US due to stifling regulation.
  • CDC’s National Youth Tobacco Survey results that demonstrated that teen use of e-cigarettes continues to dramatically decline since 2015, despite the reports from media treating it as an epidemic.
  • The recent statement by American Cancer Society (ACS) that finally recognized that vapor products are a safer and preferred alternative to combustible cigarettes.
  • VTA has developed and adopted comprehensive Marketing Standards to Members to ensure that vapor products are kept away from youth.
  • How a ban on flavors would decimate the industry.

The lack of push-back or negativity from the staffers was refreshing, which tells me they’ve been listening in the past to our efforts of defending the industry, educating our representatives consistently, and addressing any concerns. Every office we visited seemed very receptive to the information we provided to them.

Our fearless TSFA team in front of Congressman Chuck Fleischmann’s office

12,000 “Phil Harrell” steps and a quick 30-minute Capitol tour later, our group was confident our voice was heard, and the day was deemed an overall success.

Although we state it over and over, we can’t say it enough. The owners who are a part of TSFA continue to inspire us along the way and we are more than proud of the work that they do, their dedication, and their passion for advocacy. There is no way we could do this without them and we are honored to walk among them in their mission. A special thank you to the following for taking time away from their homes and businesses and investing in the trip to the Hill.

Dave & Joe Nelson – Rocky Top Vapor
Glenn Cate – Vintage Vapor
Steve & Brandy Nair – Mountain Oak Vapors
Phil Harrell – The Vape Shop
Glenn & Karen Morin – West Tennessee Vapors
Destiny Hatton – Vapor Bane
Chris & Sara Kennedy (VTA Conference) – Vape Street Lounge

Tiffany Everett
President
Tennessee Smoke Free Association

Tennessee Clear of Bills Affecting Vapor Industry

Once again for 2018, TN is clear of all bills that would be affecting the vapor industry and consumers.

SB1850/HB1867 Indoor Vaping Ban : DEAD for 2018
SB1636/HB1706 Increase Age to 19 : DEAD for 2018

Modified Tobacco Product Tax bill (introduced by PMI for those that care) : DEAD for 2018

I want to thank our lobby for the excellent ground work, our board of volunteers, and our professional vape shop/manufacturer members for their hard work before the bills were introduced. Their drive really made a difference this year in keeping our state once again free of frivolous regulations protecting special interests and they really deserve credit for their financial commitment and participation.

For a list of those that take the industry seriously please visit http://tnsmokefree.org/members/

If you are not a member of the Tennessee Smoke Free Association we would love to have you on board sharing the costs to operate and protect the industry.

If your favorite TN vape shop is not a member, ask them why.

Next year we will be bringing our own legislation providing vape shops a license to operate and separating us from tobacco/head shops.

Dimitris Agrafiotis
Executive Director

 

2017 TSFA & VTA Conferences Wrap-up

TSFA in Nashville

On November 11, 2017, TSFA hosted the 2017 annual pre-Legislative Conference in Nashville. All vapor industry was invited to attend. We had a very successful turnout of our members and special guests. Victory Vapor North joined the association, and a few other Tennessee shops came on board over the following month. In addition to announcing restructuring of the board, we reviewed our successes with defeating bills over the past year. The year in review was wrapped up as we moved on to the present, challenges we still face, and our plan of action moving forward. Overall, it was a productive and successful event.

Erika Bell Vick, our lobbyist with Bass, Berry & Sims PLC gives the legislative update and 2018 projections.

 

 

Jake Butcher with VTA discusses state coordination.

Gregory Conley of AVA gives us a Federal update and provides guidance moving forward.

 

Fig Ramsey of Gonzo Vapors gets the crowd motivated….and takes a selfie.

Path to Chicago

On December 7, 2017, the two of us headed to the VTA Vapor Game Plan Conference in Chicago to represent TSFA. VTA members, guests, and Association representatives from all over the country were in attendance. We listened to many well-informed speakers who provided a wealth of information to take back to our members. While it is impossible to summarize so much material, here were some of our biggest take-aways from the conference.

  • In 2017, VTA, along with its members, tracked 300 vapor bills. Defeated multiple bills in 10 different states.
  • Amy Lane shared how she developed a strategy to bring access back to Indiana. Amy helped form Indiana Smoke Free Association (ISFA), hired a lobbyist (who was in attendance as well), and was involved in every strategic plan decision/negotiation along the way. Her strides in Indiana and what she was able to accomplish was astounding! Amy also shared ideas on how to build a strong state association and how to keep the line of communication open with members. We even walked away with a couple of her ideas
  • Challenges we face in 2018
  • Taxation across the states and the argument that vapor products should not be taxed the same as combustible cigarettes (beyond the sales tax level).
  • The ever-present teen vaping gateway argument and data that most teens do not use nicotine, resulting in zero addiction. Teen smoking rates continue to fall.
  • The role of flavors. Perceptions in labeling.
  • Vaping is an EXIT gateway for smokers – what a powerful statement!
  • Vapenomics – Sam Salaymeh, President & CEO of AMV Holdings, North America gave an outstanding and eye-opening presentation in regards to improving the industry and the image to gain more support from legislators.
  • Legislation starts at the local level.
  • The need for strong state or regional associations across the board.

And again, Fig Ramsey takes a selfie

In seriousness, Fig introduced his concept of Vape Tithing and how Gonzo Vapors is carrying out that concept. He also touched on the states helping one another. If one is facing challenges with local legislation or financing, others step in to help. It’s also past time that we start doing business with companies who invest and are active in advocacy.

We would be remiss if we didn’t mention Executive Director Tony Abboud’s heartfelt words regarding how far VTA has come in only a year, and how TSFA believed in the vision in the beginning and jumped on board. There were a handful of supporting companies on last year’s member list. These two slides tell the story of where we are today.

Finally, Tony’s words about TSFA being pioneers in state advocacy were echoed across the room several times throughout the day and how we helped pave the road for several other states. It was a day where we were not only proud to be a vapers and advocates, but proud to be part of a thriving association thanks to the support of all our TSFA members.

Tiffany Everett, President
Nicole Crumley, Treasurer

 

Jennie Corley with Tiffany and Nicole

 

Cold, fat pigeons. Just because.

 

TSFA Hires Crisp Communications

As of today, November 20, 2017, the Tennessee Smoke Free Association has hired a full-time public relations firm. Crisp Communications, LLC out of Nashville will be representing our association and the vaping industry in a positive light across the Tennessee Valley. We want to sincerely thank the vendors and the membership for making this financially possible.

TSFA 2017 Legislative Conference – November 11

The Tennessee Smoke Free Association will be holding its 2017 annual pre-legislative meeting on November 11th. All Tennessee vapor industry are encouraged to attend, including non-TSFA shops and manufacturers.


Agenda will include:
*2017-2018 Budget
*R2B Smoke Free lawsuit update
*Licensing for vape shops 2017
*Proposal for flavor study using brick and mortar shops in Tennessee and how vital it is for those converting
*Lobby guest Erica Bell Vick with Bass, Bell & Sims PLC
*Federal advocacy guests, including Gregory Conley with American Vaping Association, and Jake Butcher with Vapor Technology           Association
*Local politicians (elected and candidates) will be present to address our association

We will be providing Federal guidance on deadlines and ingredient listing. We will also be presenting our future plans via our lobby and membership that will attempt to shine a positive light on vaping in Tennessee. We highly encourage those of you who have not joined to participate, ask questions and take a seat at the table in order to protect your interests and future.
#leadbyexample

Saturday, November 11th at 10:0o am
Pinnacle Building – Bass, Berry & Sims
Founders Room
150 Third Ave South, Suite 2800
Nashville, TN

TSFA Meets with the Tennessee Department of Health

Networking, relationships, and education are key in our path to educate on tobacco harm reduction. Today TSFA Executive Director and SEVIA USA Chairman, Dimitris Agrafiotis alongside Jeff Stier, Senior Fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research in Washington, DC, Dr. Robert Cranfield, and TSFA lobbyist Erica Vick met with the Tennessee Department of Health in Nashville to address their ecig advisory, supply science and free market input, as well as building a bridge for further collaboration. The meeting went well and we hope to expand our relationship.

#TSFA #VTA #leadbyexample #Seviausa #smokefreeradio #nomorefailedstrategies

 

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A Billion Lives Knoxville Premiere

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The Knoxville vaping community recently came together to bring Aaron Biebert’s powerful documentary in their city. Glenn Cate and Vintage Vapors Knoxville worked for months to get the film supported. Glenn, along with several local TSFA local business owners reached out to politicians, reporters, medical staff and physicians to both educate them and invite them to the viewing. After several months, all of the hard work efforts were realized and the sold out showing of A Billion Lives was brought to Knoxville at Carmike Wynnsong 16.

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The evening was special as local vapers, business owners, employees and advocates came together to view the movie in support of the industry and A Million Lives. Of special note, the event was dedicated in memory of Richard & Regina Metersky, vaping advocates in the Knoxville area who lost their lives in a tragic car accident on October 26th. Our hearts go out to their daughter and family, Dana, another vaping advocate in the area.

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TSFA would like to thank Glenn Cate and his crew at VVK, local TSFA business owners, vaping advocates, and everybody involved in this project for their dedication.

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