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).
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.
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
Tennessee Smoke Free Association