An interview with Vapor Technology Association’s Jake Butcher

Meet VTA’s New State Advocate

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Currently, we have the new deeming regulations from the FDA and then we also have states enacting their own restrictions. How do you expect this to pan out? Will states continue to push their own agendas? Or is there any indication that now that there are FDA rules, some of them may take a wait-and-see approach?
That is yet to be seen. You have to remember that when the deeming regs came down, most legislatures were in the middle of their regularly scheduled sessions. I think now we may see more of an effort at the state level to treat vapor product like tobacco products. Anti-vapor advocates will push that—that vapor products are tobacco products and should be regulated as such. We just have a fundamentally different view of that than they do. There will be more research done, and we have to educate policymakers and lawmakers. That is why VTA has taken the steps [it has] in seeking to formalize the coordination of state activities.

What can retailers do to help ensure that legislators understand the industry?
One of the biggest things is forming a common association to work together on advocacy. That is the biggest first step. What we are seeking to do with VTA is take a proactive approach to education and influencing policy at a state level. We have been fortunate in Illinois and some other states to band together and work together on a coordinated approach. Instead of one person contacting their legislators, you have several hundred reaching out in a coordinated manner.

Obviously it is important for every single shop to make contact with their legislators. I think that that one-on-one connection—bringing them in, inviting them into your shop and showing them what you do on a day-in and day-out basis to try to improve lives—is important. That would be my biggest advice: band together with other shops on common goals, whether that be against taxation or flavor bans; the principles are the same.

For more information on VTA’s advocacy, visit savevapor.org.

Story by Jennifer Gelfand

This story first appeared in the January/February 2017 issue of Tobacco Business magazine. Members of the tobacco industry are eligible for a complimentary subscription to our magazine. Click here for details.