The Hammer Falls on Trademark Infringement

As many have heard by now, General Mills sent a shock wave through the vape industry by taking legal action against e-liquid companies who have infringed on their trademarked products. Sending cease and desist letters to companies who have been marketing flavors labeled as “cinnamon toast crunch” a cereal brand owned by General Mills which has been a long time favorite for generations.

In a statement released following the announcement of the cease and desist order General Mills said, “Any use is unauthorized and would constitute an illegal misuse of our marks.” Further adding that “General Mills has already sent a cease-and-desist letter to remove our branding and trademarks from these products — and we will take further action if necessary.”

A number of other companies who own trademarks used by e-liquid companies have also followed suite.
The maker of Girl Scout Cookies, and the classic Tootsie Roll  candy also announced they would be taking legal action against companies who infringe on their trademark.

“Using the Thin Mint name, which is synonymous with Girl Scouts and everything we do to enrich the lives of girls, to market e-cigarettes to youth is deceitful and shameless,” Girl Scout spokeswoman Kelly Parisi said in a statement.

The news has brought to light a long-standing problem in the vape industry. As countless e-liquid brands have attempted to piggy back off the familiarity of established long standing brands. Not only replicating their flavor profile for vaping, but also completely cloning their look and design.

The actions of these companies has caused a ripple effect, as multiple companies move to not only change the name of their flavors, but redesign their label as well.

Furthermore, it’s caused a state of panic, as it is one of the most damning pieces of evidence for the anti-vaping propagandist. Citing the packaging and design of e-liquid companies as marketing to children. This has caused multiple companies to scramble and redesign their existing look to avoid the controversy.

The industries response has been swift, as many companies have publically pledged to repackage their brand. In addition to proposed by boycotts from retailers and distributors on any company that doesn`t follow suite.

The industry itself has not been blind to the issue, advocates have been calling for more accountability and stricter guidelines for a long time now. The news has served as a needed wake up call for e-liquid manufacturers to become more responsible for their actions as the vape community continues to come under more scrutiny.

Big Tobacco Purchases Another E-Cig Company, Why It Matters

Japans largest tobacco company Japan Tobacco Inc. announced today that it has acquired U.S. e-cig company Logic technologies.

The Florida based company offers a full line of e-cig products, sold primarily in gas stations and convenience stores nation wide. The company also recently expanded its line by launching its first attempt at an open tank system.

Japan Tobacco Inc will finance the acquisition with a combination of cash and debt, upon receiving regulatory clearance. This marks the first time a major tobacco company has acquired a large independently owned U.S. based e-cig company since Altria acquired Blu in 2010.

Why it matters

There has been a lot of recent movement in the ciggalike sector of the vape industry. With companies like breathe appointing a big pharma executive to its board and now this acquisition.

It signals big pharma and big tobacco circling the industry, realizing there’s no way to stop our momentum as more and more smokers make the switch to vaping.

 

Instead they seem to be adopting a “if you can’t beat them, join them” philosophy.

Japan Tobacco Inc’s purchase comes on the heels of an 8.4% decline in cigarette sales during the first quarter of the year. Vaping continues to grow in popularity, and cigarette sales decline worldwide.

The question that begs to be asked is: When will big tobacco and big pharma set their sites on the vape community? And seek to get market share amongst drippers.

Will we see a big tobacco buy owned mod or rda?                    

More importantly, would any  mod maker or e-liquid company actually sell out to big tobacco or pharma? Probably.

The concern here is with more and more e-cig brands getting backed by big pharma and tobacco money, it leaves the independently owned companies at risk.

Numerous e-liquid brands, and hardware manufacturers will be at a disadvantage. It is important to keep in mind, that although the vaper community is large and growing daily, it is still the minority. Millions have switched to vaping, but only a small percentage of them become passionate aficionados.

Japan Tobacco Inc’s acquisition is one more step forward for big tobacco, buying market share, and using their vast resources to sell inferior products to uninformed citizens looking to try vaping.

ABX2-16 & SBX2-13 Threaten Vaping

On September 11th, the California legislative session will close. California, the fight for our vaping rights is still not over! Many of you out there cannot find time to join us in Sacramento when these sessions hit and we understand, but there is still so much we can all contribute! We urge you call, write, or email your local representatives and tell them you oppose ABX2-6, ABX2-16 and SBX2-13!

Per Stefan Didak of SFATA and Not Blowing Smoke:

ABX2-6 Would classify electronic cigarettes as tobacco products and apply all existing current tobacco legislation to vaping.

ABX2-16: Would expand the definition of tobacco products for purposes of the Cigarette and Tobacco Products Licensing Act to include electronic cigarettes, as defined, thereby subjecting manufacturers, importers, distributors, wholesalers, and retailers of electronic cigarettes to the same licensing requirements imposed pursuant to that act on manufacturers, importers, distributors, wholesalers, and retailers of tobacco products.

SBX-13: Would expand the definition of tobacco products for purposes of that Cigarette and Tobacco Products Licensing Act to include electronic cigarettes, as defined, thereby subjecting manufacturers, importers, distributors, wholesalers, and retailers of electronic cigarettes to the same licensing requirements imposed pursuant to that act on manufacturers, importers, distributors, wholesalers, and retailers of tobacco products. This bill contains other related provisions and other existing laws.

This bill would additionally, on or after the first day of the first calendar quarter commencing more than 90 days on or after the effective date of the bill, impose a tax on the distribution of electronic cigarettes, as defined, based on the wholesale cost, at a rate determined annually that is equivalent to the cigarette tax rate, which would be $2.87 per package of 20 cigarettes.

Remember, California politicians still don’t understand that zero nicotine eliquid contains, well, zero nicotine. They still don’t make distinctions between cigalike products and vapor devices. Bills like these are negligent without an understanding of even just the fundamentals of vaping. Many of our politicians are reluctant to take the time to understand, in favor of balancing the budget and preventing access to vaping in general. Or potentially worse, they do understand the differences, but want the ability to impart unreasonable taxes to completely dismantle our side of the industry.

The potential cost of losing is this battle is immeasurable, not limited to just the loss of jobs and businesses. The ability to impart ridiculous taxes that stand to make vaping outrageously expensive and difficult to afford the very thing that is saving our lives! DO NOT assume that you do not make a difference! Public indifference to legislation is what corporate backers rely on to see these bills passed.

Spread the word, tell your friends, family, associates, anyone who appreciates that you don’t smell like an ashtray or also believes that vaping saved your life.

Find your representative: http://findyourrep.legislature.ca.gov/
Not Blowing Smoke Special Sessions Information: http://notblowingsmoke.org/session/
CASAA Call to Action: http://cqrcengage.com/casaa/app/make-a-call?1&engagementId=128973

Congressman Calls Out Politicans on Omni Bill and Anti-Vaping Stance

Last week the House Of Representatives passed the omnibus spending bill, an end of year piece of legislation which ensured the federal government to be funded until October of 2016. Aside from the hilarious fact that our elected officials actually have to pass legislation to ensure our government stays open for business, a number of specific things were added to the bill.

In particular, Within the legislation Democrats removed a GOP backed rider which proposed exempting vapor products as tobacco products. The rider would have accomplished the goal of H.R. 2058, the bill proposed by Oklahoma Congressmen Tom Cole. Which would extend the grandfather date on tobacco products to include all existing vapor devices and e-liquids companies.

To clarify, H.R. 2058 was not voted against, nor struck down, the bill has yet to be voted on and is still very much alive. Instead the proposed rider which would have had a similar effect, was removed from the omnibus bill.

Now we here at Vape About It, try to maintain a bi partisan approach to politics. There are plenty of vapers who identify as Liberals, as there are vapers who consider themselves Conservatives. But, we have to call a spade a spade, as it would seem the primary opponent of the U.S. vape industry are the Democrats.

Over the weekend GOP Congressman Duncan Hunter of the 52nc district (San Diego) of California came out in criticism of house minority leader Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco).

Hunter, a veteran of both Iraq and Afghanistan, called out Pelosi after she sent a document to fellow dem house members claiming a number of victories in the omni bill. Specifically calling the GOP rider as a “gift to big tobacco”.

In a letter sent to Pelosi, Congressman Hunter refuted minority leader Pelosi`s comments stating “Ironically, by not supporting the commercial availability of e-cigarettes, with all their advancements in recent years, you are giving your support- whether intended or not- to traditional cigarettes and other products.”

The Congressman also revealed his own journey to smoking cessation with the usage of vapor devices. Urging minority leader Pelosi to change her views on vaping by pointing out the British Prime Ministers recent comments and added “I encourage you to revisit this important issue- specifically changing the predicate date within the FDA`s proposed rule – with the understanding that e-cigarettes save lives.”

We have pointed out a number of times, that many elected officials on the left who oppose vaping are also coincidentally funded by big pharma companies who have a vested interest in seeing the vape industry heavily regulated.

Fortunately, it seems there are a growing number of politicians like Congressman Duncan, who opt for reason and logic when it comes to vaping, rather than propaganda. We hope both parties can come to a consensus and pass fair regulation that would preserve vaping, and provide access to the millions of Americans that currently vape, in addition to the millions who still smoke and yet to make the switch.

US Dept. of Homeland Security Raids New York Vape Shop

At approximately 1:00 PM on Thursday April 16th, 2015, The United States Department of Homeland Security, with a legal search warrant, raided “A Plus Vapes and Deals”. A Plus is a small vape shop located on 327 Ellicott St, Batavian, N.Y.

They were raided for allegedly selling “fake products” to customers. At the time of this writing, we here at vapeaboutit.com are not aware exactly what fake products the agents obtained the warrant for. What we do know, is that Federal Agents were seen taking boxes out of the vape shop on Thursday afternoon. What a mystery.A-plus-vaping-raid-vapeabouit

After contacting The Department of Homeland Security, they declined to comment. They released an initial statement saying “The search warrant is still under a court ordered seal and no more information will be released”.

A phone call made by Vape About It to A Plus Vapes and Deals on Friday April 17th and again on Saturday April 18th, got us a generic message stating “This mailbox is unable to accept voicemail messages at this time. Please try again later. Goodbye.” It looks as if there official website http://vaporsbataviany.com/ has been taken down as well. Looks like these poor souls got owned by the man.

A Plus Vapes and Deals yellow pages.com official business listing states they are “A vape shop that specializes in all types of vapor products. We also carry many types and styles of cell phones. We carry jewelry and DVDs as well.”

 

Right now the facts of why this shop was raided are murky and filled with mystery, were they simple honest vape folks just trying to make a living? Were they selling fake diamond earrings to unsuspecting housewives? Were they copying illegal Fifty Shades of Grey blue-rays and selling them like hotcakes? You decide.

We’ll keep you updated as soon as more information becomes available.

Tell us in the comments below what you think about this raid by The Department of Homeland Security.

First Confirmed Death from E-Liquid Nicotine

The Fort Plain New York police department have released their official findings in the tragic death of 18 month old Eli James “EJ” Hotaling. EJ died shortly after consuming 100mg liquid nicotine concentrate that his mom used for mixing.

The investigation revealed that on Dec 9th 2014, Eli was found convulsing on the floor, and shortly after lost consciousness. After calling 911, Eli was pronounced dead shortly after arriving at the nearby Little Falls Hospital. The official cause of death was cardiac arrhythmia caused by the ingestion of nicotine.

The nicotine was purchased from Oklahoma City based Heartland Vapes. Belinda Hotaling, Ej’s mother, would purchase the nicotine concentrate in 100mg bottles to mix with e-liquid.

This marks the first documented death of a child related to the liquid nicotine used for vaping.

According to the police investigation, the Hotaling family said that the nicotine bottle was not child proof. The Hotaling family currently plans to sue Heartland Vapes.

This unfortunate tragedy spotlights one of the biggest risks in our industry.

Nicotine in its pure form is very potent and consuming it can be fatal, especially for small children. This is a very sad and tragic accident. I can only imagine the pain that the family must be going through.

However, The blame shouldn’t fall on the vapor industry. The majority of vape companies are responsible, use child proof caps, and display proper warnings.

Lawmakers are constantly using the argument that e-liquids are dangerous for children, and claim the industry tries marketing to them. What lawmakers don’t realize is tragedies like the death of EJ Hotaling will become more frequent if they pass the debilitating regulations they are proposing.

As I outlined in my post about the potential fall out of prohibition, we would not only see a rise in black market sales, but more people like Belinda Hotaling making their own e-liquid. The materials are widely available.

If flavoring and vaping become illegal, more people will purchase pure nicotine to mix it themselves, increasing the chance of accidents.

 

Calls to poison centers due to e-cigarettes are on the rise. Making them illegal will just make things worse. We need education on responsible handling and storage. We need responsible laws outlining packaging, labeling, and distribution.

We do not need the scare tactics and the terribly unrealistic laws that are being proposed all over the world.

Individuals lack the proper education and training to produce e-liquid. Bare in mind, EJ did not die from consuming e-liquid in its final form, he was poisoned from the raw nicotine his mom left laying around for mixing her own flavors.

Imposing regulations such as a ban of e-liquid flavors, and denying access of the liquids vapers want, will only drive more people to DIY and increase the rate of accidents.

Why Hasn’t Vaping Been Discussed During the Debates

The 2016 presidential election has been turbulent to say the least. Whether you’re a Democrat, Republican or identify as an independent this was not the election cycle that we expected. On the left, Senator Bernie Sanders has risen to be the new liberal champion for progressives. Giving Hillary Clinton who was the presumed nominee, a major run for her money, nearly defeating her in Iowa and winning the primary in New Hampshire.

Over on the right, the Republican primary has become an all out battle royal between presidential hopefuls. At a time when the field winds down to one or two likely candidates, the majority of the campaigns are choosing to continue. Then of course there is Donald Trumps unexpected and often times controversial rise to becoming the republican front runner, having never ran for public office in his life.

This election is being determined by a number of key issues, such as immigration reform, and national security from the threat of ISIS and terrorism. Healthcare is another issue of course, as Obama care continues to be a point of contention among liberals and conservatives. Interestingly enough, one topic relating to health care has been completely overlooked, although it impacts nearly 10 million Americans.

Care to guess what that topic is?

Although the debate on vaping has been discussed on a state and local level, it has yet to be a topic mentioned in this presidential election.

As Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform and outspoken supporter for vapers rights put it “None of the candidates mentioned the Obama/Democrat war on Vaping and the 10million Americans who vape. Missed opportunity”. Mr. Norquist tweeted repeatedly about the vape industry during Saturday nights republican debate, even suggesting that the 10 million or so Americans who vape could equate for a massive swing vote in the election.

Its an interesting question, why haven’t they discussed vaping in any of the debates?
It certainly is a polarizing topic between the right and left. The strongest opponents of vaping tend to be Democrats, while the biggest proponents in government tend to be Republican.

The real question is, can we get any of the candidates running for their respective parties nomination to make a commitment towards helping the industry, and ensuring the preservation of vapers rights?

So whats the solution? how can we get the political heavy weights talking?
Well, the problem is the journalists who ask the questions. As a community we should collectively make an effort and write to these media outlets in hopes that they will ask the right questions. Either that or we sit back and wait until the debate on vaping gets large enough for the candidates to take notice, we opt for option one.

Official Study Proves Vaping is 95% Less Harmful than Cigarettes

Public Health England, an executive agency sponsored by the Department of Health, published a report yesterday titled E-Cigarettes: An Evidence Update.  It found that vaping and e-cigarettes are 95% less harmful than traditional tobacco cigarettes.   A link to the 121 page study can be found here.

Key findings of the review include:

  • The current best estimate is that e-cigarettes are around 95% less harmful than smoking
  • Nearly half the population (44.8%) don’t realize e-cigarettes are much less harmful than smoking
  • There is no evidence so far that e-cigarettes are acting as a route into smoking for children or non-smokers

The information above can be found at www.gov.uk

The review of the evidence found that almost all of the 2.6 million adults using e-cigarettes in Great Britain are current or ex-smokers.  Not children, teens, or non-smokers like other fear mongering “reports” have claimed.  One of the biggest findings was that there is absolutely no scientific evidence that e-cigarettes are a “gateway to smoking” or that they are “re-normalizing smoking”.

This study is very similar to an article we published in March 2015 titled Study finds Vaping is 95% Safer than Smoking which was a study conducted by world renowned cardiologist and e-cigarette researcher Dr. Konstantinos Farsalinos.  After multiple smear campaigns by governments around the world, including some countries who are completely banning it, England is the first to officially announce its support for vaping!

The U.K. still faces difficulties with the Article 20 legal challenge ahead of them.  We will have a full report on Article 20 next week.  But for now, vapers and people who use e-cigarettes to get off tobacco are rejoicing.

California Special Session Hearing is Open to the Public – August 19, 2015

The hearing portion of the California Special Session we’ve been hearing about WILL be open to the public, August 19th, 2015 at 1:30PM at the Capitol. We need as many bodies as we can get to represent vaping as possible! Come help us fight for our vaping rights!

Per the NorCal SFATA Call to Action, the bills introduced for this special session are as follows:

  • SB 5 & AB 6, regulating electronic cigarettes to meet existing tobacco laws
  • SB 6 & AB 7, adding hotel lobbies, small businesses, break rooms and tobacco retailers to the list of smoke-free workplaces
  • SB 7 & AB 8, changing the legal smoking age from 18 to 21
  • SB 8 & AB 9, requiring schools to be tobacco-free
  • SB 9 & AB 10, allowing local jurisdictions to tax tobacco
  • SB 10 & AB 11, creating an annual Board of Equalization tobacco licensing fee program

SB5 AND AB6 WILL CLASSIFY VAPOR PRODUCTS AS TOBACCO. In turn all of the above bills would automatically apply to vaping. If this is allowed to pass, no more vaping in hotel lobbies, vape shops. The age of access to vapor products would be raised to 21. Local taxation could be akin to the crazy 90% taxes we’ve seen proposed in other states, which would rendering vaping financially inaccessible to most vapers. (Remember the Before and After for Proposed Utah Tax Vape receipts?)

If you think we have enough people to represent your interest, that someone else will stand up to protect your vaping rights, remember: everyone else feels the same way. The only way you can be certain that your voice is heard is to speak up, for yourself. Politicians depend on the public’s inaction to push through this kind of legislation.

“THE ONLY THING NECESSARY FOR THE TRIUMPH OF EVIL IS FOR GOOD MEN TO DO NOTHING.” – EDMUND BURKE

Most of us believe vaping saved our lives. One afternoon is a small price to help repay the small businesses, manufacturers and advocacy groups that keep fighting to save as many lives as possible. Stand up with us and show Big Pharma and the politicians they pay to do their dirty work that we won’t sit on our hands to allow them to dictate how we live or die.

For more information, please see:
Extraordinary Session CALL TO ACTION
California “special session” bills threaten consumer access, choice, and use of smoke-free vapor products.

How The Media Has Turned Vaping Into a Sin

I often reflect back to when I first started vaping almost 5 years ago. Strangers would come up to me and ask what it was I was doing. I would excitingly explain to them what an e-cigarette was and how it worked.

I’d get questions such as, “Do you feel better now that you don’t smoke cigarettes?” “What’s the difference between smoking a real cigarette as opposed to that e-cigarette?” These are questions I loved to answer! Then 2014 hit. It was like an explosion!

One day people were asking informative questions, and the next day I was getting looks of disgust, being told “that thing is worse than a cigarette!” “You know those aren’t regulated by the FDA right?”

It completely caught me off-guard. What was once a conversation starter and an educational discussion, had now turned into bashing and people putting me down almost overnight.  

I remember a strange feeling come over me. I felt like a kid on the playground getting picked on. I never asked for their opinion. For the 5 years I vaped I had never bashed anyone for not vaping. It was something I just did. It was something a co-worker of mine had introduced to me as a safer alternative to my ten year analog cigarette addiction.
When I started vaping their were no vape meets, cloud competitions, or even brick and mortar stores. The terms Cloud Chasing, Vape Mail, and Sub-Ohming weren’t coined yet.
I may sound like “Old Man Vaper” here, but the point I’m getting to is that the media has turned vaping into a sin. More importantly it has turned curious people who used to think with their own brain, into parrots that just repeat the negative things they hear and see in the media regarding vaping.
That news has obviously not been positive. But why? It’s been scientifically proven through multiple studies that vaping is 99% safer than smoking a traditional cigarette. Isn’t this something the news outlets would think of as a good thing?
Wouldn’t you want to be shouting from the rooftops, “Hey! We found a healthier alternative to cigarettes! It’s called vaping!” Common sense told me since day one that vaping was a healthier alternative to cigarettes.
We can’t go on common sense alone when it comes to our health. So I started looking up scientific studies, and I found them! I found the science that proves vaping is safer than cigarettes! I remember thinking at the time, Why isn’t the news covering this???
Then I stepped back and looked at the big picture. The economy. I started looking at the numbers, and who was in bed with big tobacco. It dawned on me that this war on vaping is not about helping teens or preventing a new public health epidemic.

This was about money. As I started my own research, I came across something called the Master Settlement Agreement, or “The Smoking Gun to the War on Vape” as I like to call it.

The Master Settlement Agreement was an agreement put in place in November 1998 that Stated Big Tobacco would pay the 46 U.S. States involved in the settlement (the other 4 States already had agreements in place with Big Tobacco) approximately 10 Billion dollars annually to help fund campaigns to reduce smoking.
Each of the signing States gave up any legal claims they might have based on the companies’ actions at issue in these cases. The tobacco companies agreed to pay the States these billions of dollars to compensate them for taxpayer money which had previously been spent on tobacco-related diseases.

Simply put, The Master Settlement Agreement settled all the State lawsuits that sought billions of dollars in State’s costs associated with the treatment of smoking related illness.

Now here’s where it gets dicey. When the bankers on Wall Street heard about the Master Settlement Agreement, they offered the States hundreds of millions up front. In exchange the States would pay wall street back over time with interest.
We call this borrowing, or better known as loan-sharking. One thing the States and big tobacco didn’t count on was a disruption in the market, or E-Cigarettes. All of a sudden, as more and more people quit cigarettes and started vaping, those States started losing revenue and defaulting on the loans that wall street had given them. This is where we are at now.
To tie it all together, Big Tobacco and the States involved in the Master Settlement Agreement aren’t receiving the huge payouts they were getting before e-cigarettes hit the market.
Now since Big Tobacco lobbyists are involved with the media, we are seeing a crackdown on E-Cigarettes. We are hearing about how bad they are, how they are not a safer alternative to smoking cigarettes, and how more and more teens are becoming addicted to e-cigarettes. All the media is focusing in on is misinformation and lies about vaping.
They are doing this because they are controlled by Big Tobacco lobbyists. Big Tobacco holds the purse-strings. E-Cigarettes are considered just as bad, if not worse than regular cigarettes, according to almost every major news media outlet.  And it’s not based on facts or scientific studies. It’s based on what Big Tobacco wants you to hear.