Jefferson’s words have never been more relevant than they are today for the vaping industry. The government is betraying our well being and rights in the interest of Big Pharma and Big Tobacco's profits. They have made us casualties of their war on smoking. 2015 was the beginning of the government’s big push for regulation of a life saving and a life changing industry. In 2016 that push will only intensify.
Vaping is a phenomenon and it does change lives. It is a way of life, although our opponents do not believe so. Before we were slaves to tobacco, now we are slaves to the whims of regulators, taxes, and how we respond to critics as a community. All eyes are on us. We do have the power to change the outlook that society has on vaping as an industry and a community, but without a common voice we cannot, and will not, win the fight ahead of us.
The Louisiana State Legislator has already imposed a $0.05 per mL tax on e-liquid produced in the state of Louisiana. As representatives for our member businesses, we have met with lawmakers and secretaries of revenue to discuss the impact on such a tax on business in Louisiana, and are working on getting the bill removed. The lobby firm that we are working with, Gulf South Consulting, has played a crucial role in strategy and connection between our local, state, and federal representatives. We made a lot of progress on the state level in 2015, and 2016 is looking to be even bigger of a fight for our businesses.
With the FDA regulations threatening all vapor businesses, we will be classified federally as tobacco products. This gives states the green light to regulate us as such. Bigger taxes, more bans, and manufacturing requirements are in our near future if we are not proactive with state legislators. Building relationships on the state level is vital to becoming a force to be reckoned with when it comes to laws that affect vaping.
Now is the time to stand together for our customers, our employees, and for our customers. If we stand together there is a chance, if we are divided we will fall. I ask you to make this pledge with me. If you are passionate about the right to freedom of choice, join with me and make the effort to fight for our cause. I implore you to come together as a community and fight to make our voices heard. Together we can change the tide. Together we can mobilize. Remember, as Jefferson stated, “...law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.” We need to come together and show our opponents that we just want to be left alone to conduct our businesses as we see fit.
If we remain divided there is no doubt we will fall, but standing together we are a force to be reckoned with. I hope that this letter inspires you to become part of the solution. This is one of the most passionate communities in the world. The only question left to ask yourself, is whether you will be part of the rise or part of the fall?