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.
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.
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