Legislature(2017 - 2018)BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)

02/21/2017 01:30 PM Senate LABOR & COMMERCE

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01:31:27 PM Start
01:31:59 PM SB15
02:30:16 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Heard & Held
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
-- Public Testimony --
         SB  15-E-CIGS: SALE TO AND POSSESSION BY MINOR                                                                     
1:31:59 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR COSTELLO  announced the  consideration of  SB 15.  The bill                                                               
was  previously heard  on  February 14  and  public testimony  is                                                               
closed. The  intent is to  take questions from  members, continue                                                               
public testimony and hold the bill for further consideration.                                                                   
1:32:23 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR STEVENS,  speaking as sponsor  of SB 15, stated  that the                                                               
bill seeks to protect young people from e-cigarettes.                                                                           
1:32:44 PM                                                                                                                    
TIM   LAMKIN,  Staff,   Senator   Gary   Stevens,  Alaska   State                                                               
Legislature, stated that SB 15  is about restricting youth access                                                               
to  e-cigarettes and  tobacco products.  He highlighted  that the                                                               
[FDA]  has deemed  e-cigarettes  as a  tobacco  product and  most                                                               
people agree  that restricting youth  access is a good  idea. The                                                               
bill asks venders  to check the box when they  renew or apply for                                                               
a new  business license indicating  they want the  endorsement to                                                               
sell e-cigarettes.                                                                                                              
He noted that the new  documentation he shared with the committee                                                               
appears to oppose  the legislation. It includes  studies from the                                                               
United  Kingdom that  claim  that e-cigarettes:  may  be a  safer                                                               
alternative than  smoking, may be an  effective tobacco cessation                                                               
product, may be harmless, and  don't encourage someone to take up                                                               
smoking. Two other documents that  appear to be from U.S. sources                                                               
claim that nicotine  doesn't cause cancer and  is therefore okay,                                                               
and  that  e-cigarettes  save billions  of  dollars  in  Medicaid                                                               
SENATOR HUGHES asked which documents he is referencing.                                                                         
1:34:32 PM                                                                                                                    
At ease                                                                                                                         
1:34:36 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR COSTELLO reconvened the meeting.                                                                                          
MR. LAMKIN  stated that  none of the  documents he  described are                                                               
relevant to  the point of  the bill,  which is to  restrict youth                                                               
access  to  e-cigarettes.  This bill  seeks  to  require  vendors                                                               
selling  these products  in Alaska  to  prove that  they are  not                                                               
selling to  youths. Current data  indicates that youths  are able                                                               
to purchase  these products. SB  15 not only closes  the loophole                                                               
in statute  that allows youth  to possess e-cigarettes,  but also                                                               
requires venders to prove they are not selling to youths.                                                                       
He warned the  committee it would hear that there  is no need for                                                               
the state to  step in since the FDA has  deemed e-cigarettes as a                                                               
tobacco product. He emphasized that  is not accurate. Rather, the                                                               
federal government  looks to state business  license endorsements                                                               
to identify who is selling these products.                                                                                      
SENATOR  HUGHES asked  if it  is  currently legal  for minors  to                                                               
purchase e-cigarettes  because she heard  there is a  federal law                                                               
prohibiting minors  from purchasing  them. She also  mentioned an                                                               
epidemiology  bulletin  that Dr.  Butler  talked  about that  she                                                               
found a bit confusing.                                                                                                          
MR. LAMKIN clarified  that there isn't a federal  law but through                                                               
regulation the FDA restricts  youths from purchasing e-cigarettes                                                               
if they are  under age 18. He noted that  Alaska law specifies 19                                                               
years-of-age to purchase e-cigarettes.                                                                                          
CHAIR  COSTELLO  listed  the   individuals  available  to  answer                                                               
questions.  She  asked  Senator  Hughes  if  she  would  like  to                                                               
question any of those individuals.                                                                                              
SENATOR  HUGHES said  the  document she  referenced  is the  2015                                                               
State of Alaska Epidemiology Bulletin  that says that in Alaska a                                                               
person must be at least 19 years old to purchase e-cigarettes.                                                                  
MR. LAMKIN  clarified there is  a distinction  between purchasing                                                               
and possession.  The current loophole  is that youth  can possess                                                               
e-cigarettes. The bill makes it  illegal for youth to purchase or                                                               
possess e-cigarettes. He deferred to  Mr. Darnell to speak to the                                                               
relationship between federal and state enforcement.                                                                             
1:39:15 PM                                                                                                                    
JOE  DARNELL,   Investigator,  Division  of   Behavioral  Health,                                                               
Department  of  Health  and Social  Services  (DHSS),  Anchorage,                                                               
Alaska,  advised  that Dr.  Butler's  comments  from a  year  ago                                                               
referenced  the statute  that deals  with products  that dispense                                                               
nicotine.  It was  designed  primarily  for nicotine  replacement                                                               
therapy  and because  e-cigarettes would  dispense nicotine  they                                                               
were included in the loop. SB 15 closes that loophole.                                                                          
Addressing  the issue  of federal  versus  state enforcement,  he                                                               
explained that the  FDA has a contract with a  private company to                                                               
do compliance  checks in Alaska  but to his knowledge  there have                                                               
been none.  He advised that  his office receives  complaints from                                                               
parents  and police  departments about  youths buying  e-products                                                               
and if  the federal government  is the enforcement  entity, those                                                               
complaints  will  need  to  be  filed with  the  FDA.  It's  also                                                               
important  that  the federal  government  intends  to expand  the                                                               
Synar regulation and require states to  have a law such as SB 15.                                                               
Compliance  will be  tied  to  block grants  that  come into  the                                                               
1:42:54 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR GARDNER  asked the name  of the federal policy  that will                                                               
tie block grants to having a state law in place.                                                                                
MR. DARNELL  said it is  the Synar regulation that  requires each                                                               
state and territory to have youth  access laws for tobacco on the                                                               
books  and  enforce them.  To  keep  the  block grants  safe  the                                                               
division  conducts sample  surveys to  ensure that  underage sale                                                               
rates  for  tobacco  products  are no  higher  than  20  percent.                                                               
Penalties are assessed  if the rate is above 20  percent, and the                                                               
state loses part of the block  grants. Between this year and next                                                               
e-cigarettes will be added to  that regulation. At that point the                                                               
state will be required to have enacted a bill such as SB 15.                                                                    
SENATOR GARDNER asked him to spell the name of the regulation.                                                                  
MR. DARNELL provided a phonetic spelling for Synar.                                                                             
SENATOR GARDNER asked if the  state generally enforces just state                                                               
laws, not federal laws.                                                                                                         
MR. DARNELL replied  the state doesn't always  have the authority                                                               
to  enforce  federal  laws.  That  is the  case  with  the  Synar                                                               
regulation; the state doesn't have jurisdiction.                                                                                
SENATOR HUGHES asked  if there is any federal  effort to regulate                                                               
packaging and marketing of e-cigarette products.                                                                                
MR. DARNELL  said he couldn't  say for e-cigarettes,  but tobacco                                                               
ads cannot target youth.                                                                                                        
SENATOR  HUGHES  observed  that nothing  in  the  bill  addresses                                                               
marketing and packaging of e-cigarettes                                                                                         
CHAIR COSTELLO  relayed her understanding  that if a  student has                                                               
an  e-cigarette on  their  person while  in  school, teachers  or                                                               
administrators could take  the product away until the  end of the                                                               
day when the  student leaves the school grounds. She  asked if he                                                               
had  information  on the  prevalence  of  e-cigarettes on  school                                                               
buses and how  this bill would affect the  bus driver's authority                                                               
when he/she sees a student in possession.                                                                                       
1:48:09 PM                                                                                                                    
MR.  LAMKIN said  his information  is anecdotal  but reports  are                                                               
that students  do take e-products  to school. While the  item may                                                               
be  confiscated, the  school is  obliged  to return  it when  the                                                               
student leaves  the school grounds. If  the bill were to  pass, a                                                               
student in possession of an e-product could be cited.                                                                           
SENATOR HUGHES asked, if the bill  were to pass, would the school                                                               
confiscate the e-product or would law enforcement be called.                                                                    
MR. LAMKIN  said his expectation  is the school  would confiscate                                                               
the  item and  contact  the appropriate  law  enforcement or  the                                                               
1:49:49 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR COSTELLO opened public testimony on SB 15.                                                                                
1:50:15 PM                                                                                                                    
BETTY MACTAVISH, representing  herself, Kodiak, Alaska, testified                                                               
in support  of SB 15.  She said she  is a mother,  a grandmother,                                                               
and a teacher. She also  works for a transitional housing program                                                               
for youths and is a  field representative for the American Cancer                                                               
Society Cancer  Action Network. She described  a recent gathering                                                               
of a  wide spectrum of  adults, all of whom  supported protecting                                                               
youth  from  the   sale  of  e-cigarettes.  When   the  issue  is                                                               
discussed,  parents frequently  asked why  this wasn't  addressed                                                               
earlier. Many  thought it  was. She  described e-cigarettes  as a                                                               
training tool  lifelong tobacco use.  She urged the  committee to                                                               
pass SB 15.                                                                                                                     
1:52:15 PM                                                                                                                    
RACHAEL TODD,  representing herself, Soldotna,  Alaska, testified                                                               
in support of SB 15. She  said she has been involved with tobacco                                                               
awareness  programs  since  she  was 13  years  old.  Before  she                                                               
graduated from  high school she  saw e-cigarette  activity inside                                                               
the school and  on social media from kids who  ranged in age from                                                               
13 to  18. She  doesn't know  how youths  access the  product but                                                               
there is peer pressure to  use e-products and many youths believe                                                               
they  are not  dangerous.  She shared  her  belief that  students                                                               
should not  be allowed to  use e-products  until they are  19 and                                                               
aware of  the impact they  can have.  She urged the  committee to                                                               
pass the bill so more teens can be safe for longer.                                                                             
1:54:11 PM                                                                                                                    
STEVEN MAPES,  Smoke Free  Alternative Trade  Association, Kenai,                                                               
Alaska*  testified  in opposition  to  SB  15. He  described  the                                                               
legislation as redundant and a  waste of time because the federal                                                               
regulations that  pertain to nicotine and  e-products address the                                                               
age  requirements  for  the  sale   and  possession  of  nicotine                                                               
delivery devices and nicotine products  in all states. Vape shops                                                               
in Alaska are adhering to  those regulations. They are subject to                                                               
random spot checks that do  happen, they post age requirements on                                                               
the  entry doors,  and  they  are required  to  ID customers  who                                                               
appear to  be younger than  27 years  of age. He  emphasized that                                                               
these shops are in the business  of getting adults off of tobacco                                                               
products  and offering  a healthier  alternative  to smoking.  He                                                               
reiterated that  there is no need  for SB 15 because  the federal                                                               
government has  already outlawed  the sale  and possession  of e-                                                               
products to minors.                                                                                                             
SENATOR GARDNER asked if he  heard the earlier testimony that the                                                               
federal  government  is  expected  to tie  block  grants  to  the                                                               
passage of this type of legislation.                                                                                            
MR. MAPES  said he  heard the  testimony. He  added that  the FDA                                                               
regulations deems e-products the same as tobacco products.                                                                      
SENATOR GARDNER asked if this bill would harm his business.                                                                     
MR. MAPES said no, but it will harm the state coffer.                                                                           
CHAIR COSTELLO noted  that the bill has several  fiscal notes and                                                               
the  only  one   that  is  positive  is  from   the  Division  of                                                               
Corporations,  Business,  and  Professional  Licensing  with  the                                                               
Department  of  Commerce,   Community  and  Economic  Development                                                               
2:00:02 PM                                                                                                                    
ASHLEY PELTIER, representing herself,  Meadow Lakes, testified in                                                               
support  of  SB  15.  She  emphasized  the  importance  of  doing                                                               
everything possible to restrict  youth access to vaping products.                                                               
She  related that  she has  seen  her 5-  and 7-year-old  nephews                                                               
emulate  smoking traditional  cigarettes  and recently  overheard                                                               
them talking  about vaping  cloud contests.  She advised  that e-                                                               
cigarettes  have surpassed  traditional  cigarettes  as the  most                                                               
commonly used  form of tobacco  products among  youths. According                                                               
to the  2015 youth risk  behavioral survey, 26 percent  of Mat-Su                                                               
youth  reported  current  use of  e-cigarettes,  compared  to  13                                                               
percent of youth who reported  use of traditional cigarettes. She                                                               
highlighted that  in 2016 the  surgeon general called  for action                                                               
to be  taken on e-cigarette  use by  youth. One of  those actions                                                               
was to restrict  youth access to e-cigarettes and SB  15 would do                                                               
that, she said.                                                                                                                 
2:01:27 PM                                                                                                                    
AMANDA   LENHARD,   representing  herself,   Anchorage,   Alaska,                                                               
testified in  support of SB  15. She  pointed out that  there are                                                               
age restrictions for tobacco and  e-cigarette products. In Alaska                                                               
those products are  not legal for anyone under the  age of 18 yet                                                               
36  percent of  youth surveyed  report having  used e-cigarettes.                                                               
She emphasized the  need for regulations to make  sure that youth                                                               
are not  able to access  e-products. Tobacco  stores, restaurants                                                               
and bars have consequences for  selling to minors and e-cigarette                                                               
shop owners should have the same responsibility, she said.                                                                      
2:02:46 PM                                                                                                                    
PATTY   GINSBERG,   representing  herself,   Anchorage,   Alaska,                                                               
testified in support of SB 15.  She is a lung cancer survivor and                                                               
that  experience  has made  her  an  advocate for  anything  that                                                               
discourages  the  use  of dangerous  products.  The  evidence  is                                                               
fairly clear  that e-products are  dangerous to one's  health and                                                               
SB 15  is one tool to  discourage the use of  those products. She                                                               
said  she  also  believes  it is  important  to  hold  businesses                                                               
accountable, not just the salesclerk. SB 15 does that.                                                                          
2:04:21 PM                                                                                                                    
ALICIA   MULLER,   representing   herself,   Anchorage,   Alaska,                                                               
testified in support  of SB 15. She said she  graduated from high                                                               
school last  year and is astonished  at the number of  people who                                                               
use e-products.  She finds  it disgusting and  would like  to see                                                               
some follow-up and enforcement.                                                                                                 
2:05:30 PM                                                                                                                    
JOY CLARK, representing herself,  Anchorage, Alaska, testified in                                                               
support of SB 15.  She said she is a mother  of an 8-year-old son                                                               
and she  sits on a number  of coalitions that have  looked at the                                                               
awareness  that  youth have  about  e-cigarettes  and vape  pens.                                                               
These middle and high school  students generally feel they aren't                                                               
harmful  either short-term  or long-term.  This is  an uninformed                                                               
view, but  these products are  very alluring to youth,  her young                                                               
son included.                                                                                                                   
2:06:52 PM                                                                                                                    
ALISON   HALPIN,   representing   herself,   Anchorage,   Alaska,                                                               
testified in opposition to SB  15. She said the legislation isn't                                                               
necessary because the  law is already in Alaska  statute. It says                                                               
that all stores  that sell tobacco products are  required to post                                                               
the  legal  age for  purchase  in  the  store. She  supports  the                                                               
existing law,  but cannot  support a  bill that  requires special                                                               
licensing that does not pertain  to businesses that sell products                                                               
that are FDA  regulated and do not fall within  the parameters of                                                               
the special licensing of a  tobacco product retailer. She pointed                                                               
out that  the bill  allows children  to purchase  e-products with                                                               
parental consent  and questioned whether  it would open  the door                                                               
to allowing  a child to purchase  tobacco products if they  had a                                                               
note from their  parent. She said the state  needs enforcement of                                                               
existing bills not new legislation.                                                                                             
2:09:26 PM                                                                                                                    
JAYCE ROBERTSON,  representing himself, Kenai,  Alaska, testified                                                               
in opposition to  SB 15. He said e-cigarettes have  helped him to                                                               
stop  smoking  traditional  tobacco   products.  He  agreed  with                                                               
earlier testimony that  the bill is a waste of  time, effort, and                                                               
money because  the federal government already  regulates tobacco,                                                               
nicotine,  and e-cigarettes.  The local  vape shops  he frequents                                                               
already abide  by the rules.  He suggested the committee  look at                                                               
the research  that the  Royal College of  Physicians has  done on                                                               
the  benefits of  vaping products  in helping  adults stop  using                                                               
traditional tobacco products.                                                                                                   
2:14:44 PM                                                                                                                    
MICHAEL  PATTERSON, CDC/ATCA/CAC,  Juneau,  Alaska, testified  in                                                               
support of  SB 15. He  advised that the particles  in e-cigarette                                                               
smoke are  so fine that they  can pass through paint,  they carry                                                               
carcinogens, and they are not  safe. Children should be protected                                                               
from gaining access and that  protection should not have a dollar                                                               
amount attached to it. He watches  middle school kids get off the                                                               
bus and immediately pull out  e-cigarettes and start smoking. The                                                               
parents  don't  even know  their  child  is smoking  unless  they                                                               
happen to see it because there  is no odor. Kids are also smoking                                                               
e-cigarettes in  school when  the teacher's  back is  turned. The                                                               
problem  is  that  there  are  kids in  the  school  who  have  a                                                               
respiratory   illness  or   disease  and   the  carcinogens   can                                                               
exacerbate the  problem or  put to student's  life in  danger. He                                                               
said he  calls these products  silent killers. He shared  that he                                                               
is in  the end  stages of  COPD and that  it is  life threatening                                                               
when  someone is  vaping,  and he  is unaware  of  that fact.  He                                                               
thanked the committee  for its work trying to  make things better                                                               
and safer for kids and adults.                                                                                                  
CHAIR COSTELLO  thanked Mr.  Paterson for  his testimony  and the                                                               
advocacy   message  he   provides   in   schools,  posters,   and                                                               
2:19:33 PM                                                                                                                    
LAURA  NIEMCZY, American  Cancer  Society-Cancer Action  Network,                                                               
Nikiski, Alaska, testified  in support of SB 15. She  said she is                                                               
a  middle school  teacher  and  she sees  far  too many  students                                                               
vaping because  they think  it is cool  and harmless.  Youth have                                                               
been well  educated that  tobacco products  are not  healthy, but                                                               
that education  is lacking for  e-cigarettes and  vaping devices.                                                               
E-product marketing  also targets  youth. Should  SB 15  pass, it                                                               
would be possible to track  the businesses that are selling these                                                               
products  and conduct  compliance checks.  Right now,  that's not                                                               
possible. She emphasized  that anything that can be  done to keep                                                               
our youth healthy  and safe should be done. The  argument that e-                                                               
cigarettes are safer  than smoking doesn't mean they  are safe or                                                               
healthy. She urged the committee to pass SB 15.                                                                                 
2:21:41 PM                                                                                                                    
JACKSON BLACKWELL, student advocate, American Cancer Society-                                                                   
Cancer Action Network, Soldotna,  Alaska, testified in support of                                                               
SB 15. He said he is a  senior at Soldotna High School, the class                                                               
president, the president  of the national honor  society, and has                                                               
been  a tobacco  prevention  advocate for  the  last four  years.                                                               
During  that  time  the  level   of  e-cigarette  use  has  grown                                                               
exponentially. When he  returned after serving for  six months as                                                               
a page for U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski, he found the rate of e-                                                                 
cigarette  use alarming.  SB 15  is a  necessary tool  to address                                                               
this health concern.                                                                                                            
2:23:07 PM                                                                                                                    
JOSEPH YOURKOSKI, American  Cancer Society-Cancer Action Network,                                                               
student  advocate, Nikiski,  Alaska, testified  in support  of SB
15. He said he  is a freshman at Nikiski High  School and he sees                                                               
students smoking e-cigarettes and  vaping devices standing in the                                                               
school parking lot. Seventh graders have also started using e-                                                                  
cigarettes. They are well schooled  in the dangers of tobacco but                                                               
don't seem  to realize that  e-cigarettes and vaping  devices are                                                               
just as  unhealthy. He  urged the committee  to help  change that                                                               
SENATOR HUGHES asked where students purchase these products.                                                                    
MR.  BLACKWELL  replied  his experience  is  they  purchase  them                                                               
online  and also  in e-cigarette  shops. He  referenced the  data                                                               
from the youth risk behavioral survey and the number of e-                                                                      
cigarette  shops that  are out  of compliance  with the  measures                                                               
that  are currently  in  place. It  demonstrates  that youth  are                                                               
getting these products from a variety of places.                                                                                
MR.  YOURKOSKI  agreed  that youth  access  e-cigarettes  in  any                                                               
number of shops and online.                                                                                                     
SENATOR HUGHES asked if the  data referenced today came from vape                                                               
shops or all types of venders.                                                                                                  
MR. BLACKWELL deferred the question to Mr. Darnell.                                                                             
2:26:09 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR HUGHES  asked what  they would think  if minors  were not                                                               
permitted in vape/smoking shops.                                                                                                
MR. BLACKWELL said he believes it would be a good idea.                                                                         
MR. YOURKOSKI said  he believes that reducing  youth access would                                                               
reduce usage.                                                                                                                   
SENATOR  HUGHES  related  that  a physician  brought  it  to  her                                                               
attention  that after  school every  day he  watches as  a steady                                                               
flow of young  people visit a smoke shop that  is down the street                                                               
from his clinic.                                                                                                                
CHAIR COSTELLO asked Jackson and  Joseph if they were planning to                                                               
be involved in the educational outreach should the bill pass.                                                                   
MR. BLACKWELL said he's already  involved in educational outreach                                                               
and will continuing to do that.                                                                                                 
MR.  YOURKOSKI   agreed  with  Jackson   adding  that   they  are                                                               
implementing  more  e-cigarette  and   vaping  devices  in  their                                                               
CHAIR COSTELLO  asked if they have  a video that could  be shared                                                               
with students.                                                                                                                  
MR. BLACKWELL  said they didn't have  a video but there  are lots                                                               
of  materials  available  from  the  various  chapters  of  Teens                                                               
Against  Tobacco Use  and the  Alaska  Tobacco Control  Alliance,                                                               
among others.                                                                                                                   
CHAIR  COSTELLO said  one of  the highlights  of serving  is when                                                               
young  people  come to  advocate  for  their cause.  She  invited                                                               
Jackson  and Joseph  to join  her after  the meeting  in a  short                                                               
video for the committee Facebook page.                                                                                          
2:29:46 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  COSTELLO closed  public testimony  on SB  15 and  held the                                                               
bill in committee for further consideration.