Legislature(2019 - 2020)BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)

03/03/2020 01:30 PM LABOR & COMMERCE

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Audio Topic
01:31:59 PM Start
01:33:04 PM Confirmation Hearing(s)
02:04:02 PM SB172
02:09:22 PM SB182
02:39:40 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ Consideration of Governor's Appointees: TELECONFERENCED
Board of Veterinary Examiners
- Denise Albert
- Hal Geiger
- Rachel Berngartt
- Scott Flamme
Board of Chiropractic Examiners
- John Lloyd
Board of Direct-Entry Midwives
- Hannah St. George
Board of Nursing
- Emily Schubert
- Wendy Monrad
Board of Social Work Examiners
- Brandon Ercanbrack
-- Public Testimony on All Appointees --
Moved CSSB 172(L&C) Out of Committee
-- Public Testimony --
Heard & Held
-- Public Testimony --
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
           SB 182-AGE FOR NICOTINE/E-CIG; TAX E-CIG.                                                                        
2:09:22 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR BISHOP announced the consideration  of SENATE BILL NO. 182,                                                               
"An Act raising  the minimum age to purchase,  sell, exchange, or                                                               
possess tobacco, a product containing  nicotine, or an electronic                                                               
smoking product;  relating to the taxation  of electronic smoking                                                               
products; and providing for an effective date."                                                                                 
He  noted that  this was  the  second hearing  and the  committee                                                               
would hear public testimony on SB 182.                                                                                          
2:10:23 PM                                                                                                                    
MICHAEL SCRIVEN,  representing self, Anchorage, Alaska,  spoke in                                                               
support of SB  182. He said that he and  his 13-year-old daughter                                                               
talked to legislators last summer  about passing a bill like this                                                               
one.  He thanked  Senator Stevens  for introducing  the bill.  He                                                               
expressed  concern  about  vaping,  e-cigarettes,  and  marketing                                                               
these items to  kids. He supports increasing the  age for tobacco                                                               
use to  21. He  has been  working on this  since last  spring and                                                               
since then  the deaths and  illnesses from vaping  have increased                                                               
tenfold. He  urged members  to support  SB 182  and pass  it from                                                               
2:12:56 PM                                                                                                                    
CASSIE FROST,  Volunteer, American  Cancer Society  Cancer Action                                                               
Network (ACSCAN), Anchorage, Alaska, spoke  in support of SB 182.                                                               
She said she  is a graduate student in a  master's program at the                                                               
University of  Alaska Anchorage. She expressed  concern about the                                                               
e-cigarette epidemic  and its effect  on young  people. Long-term                                                               
tobacco use has affected her  family, including that she lost her                                                               
grandmother to lung disease three years ago.                                                                                    
MS. FROST  highlighted that  schools in  Alaska report  finding a                                                               
surprising number of these devices  on students in elementary and                                                               
high schools.  She asked  the committee to  support SB  182 which                                                               
aims  to  reduce  youth  access  to  e-products  by  raising  the                                                               
existing tobacco  control policies from  age 19 to 21.  This will                                                               
help keep  these products  out of  the hands  of youth.  Also, it                                                               
will allow  e-cigarettes to  be taxed  and treated  like tobacco.                                                               
This  will help  reduce  sales  to youth  because  they are  most                                                               
sensitive to price increases.                                                                                                   
2:15:13 PM                                                                                                                    
JOSHUA FILAF, representing self,  Soldotna, Alaska, said he works                                                               
in a  vape shop and  disagrees with SB  182 because a  25 percent                                                               
increase in taxes on these  products will likely force many shops                                                               
to close. When adult consumers  are unable to purchase these safe                                                               
products in a  shop, they will purchase them  online. He reported                                                               
that  studies have  shown that  Medicare costs  are reduced  when                                                               
people are vaping  rather than smoking tobacco  products. He said                                                               
this bill is a waste of taxpayers' money.                                                                                       
2:16:28 PM                                                                                                                    
KELLY MARRE, representing self,  Wasilla, Alaska, said cancer has                                                               
greatly affected her family. Nearly  every member on her mother's                                                               
side of the family  has had cancer and both she  and her son were                                                               
diagnosed  with  leukemia.  Research  shows that  50  percent  of                                                               
cancers can  be prevented. She  offered her view  that protecting                                                               
youth  from tobacco  use can  lower  risks for  cancer. She  said                                                               
supporting  SB  182 will  make  e-cigarettes  less accessible  to                                                               
youth.  Changing  Alaska's  law  to conform  to  federal  law  by                                                               
increasing the  age for purchasing  tobacco products to  those 21                                                               
years of  age will  provide further  help in  protecting Alaska's                                                               
2:17:36 PM                                                                                                                    
VALERIA DELGADO,  representing self, Anchorage, Alaska,  spoke in                                                               
support of  SB 182. She  said she  works with Alaska's  youth and                                                               
has seen  the impact  of electronic  cigarettes and  vapes. Young                                                               
adults are struggling to quit  using e-cigarettes due to the high                                                               
amount of  nicotine they contain.  Studies have shown  that teens                                                               
who  use  e-cigarettes  are  twice as  likely  to  smoke  regular                                                               
cigarettes. She  offered her view  that increasing the age  to 21                                                               
for  purchasing tobacco  products will  help counter  the tobacco                                                               
industry's  efforts  to get  teens  and  young adults  hooked  on                                                               
2:18:24 PM                                                                                                                    
ALYSSA  KEILL, representing  self,  Fairbanks,  Alaska, spoke  in                                                               
support of SB 182. She said that  she is a swim coach for a local                                                               
swim  team  and  she  often  discusses  ways  to  stay  with  her                                                               
students.  The swim  team  members often  mention  that they  see                                                               
vaping  in their  schools and  that students  are selling  vaping                                                               
products  to  one another.  She  has  held discussions  with  her                                                               
students  on  the  impact  that  nicotine  would  have  on  their                                                               
performance in sports and in  school. She said studies have shown                                                               
that price increases of 10  percent for tobacco products leads to                                                               
a decrease  in youth  use by  7 percent so  raising the  price of                                                               
vaping  products could  help prevent  youths from  picking up  e-                                                               
cigarette habits.                                                                                                               
2:20:16 PM                                                                                                                    
JENNIFER BRANDT, representing self,  Wasilla, Alaska, said SB 182                                                               
will  put the  state in  compliance with  federal law  and reduce                                                               
enticement of Alaska's youth to  try and buy vaping products. She                                                               
pointed out that adults who  use nicotine products typically want                                                               
to  quit  and e-cigarettes  are  nicotine  products. She  further                                                               
pointed out  that taxes on  tobacco products encourage  people to                                                               
quit, so  an increase in  taxes on e-cigarettes will  give people                                                               
an  additional reason  to  be nicotine  free  and healthier.  She                                                               
urged members to pass SB 182.                                                                                                   
2:21:18 PM                                                                                                                    
HEATHER  ARONNO,  Grassroots  Manager,  American  Cancer  Society                                                               
Cancer  Action  Network  (ACSCAN), Anchorage,  Alaska,  spoke  in                                                               
support of SB  182. She offered her view that  this bill provides                                                               
a  practical  solution  to  problems that  are  seen  across  the                                                               
country. In her role at ACSCAN,  she has observed and heard about                                                               
the numerous people who have been impacted by vaping products.                                                                  
2:22:28 PM                                                                                                                    
TERRENCE   ROBBINS,  Managing   Director,  Southeast   Prevention                                                               
Services,  Ketchikan, Alaska,  spoke  in support  of  SB 182.  He                                                               
reported  that 95  percent of  adult smokers  became addicted  to                                                               
tobacco  before the  age  of  21. Surveys  show  that most  youth                                                               
obtain tobacco from older friends  and relatives. Limiting vaping                                                               
products to those  21 years of age will  drastically shrink youth                                                               
access to  tobacco products.  He said  he offers  10-week tobacco                                                               
cessation  clinics  to  Ketchikan  youth who  report  that  their                                                               
access to tobacco is almost always through friends.                                                                             
He related  that after  Ketchikan voters  approved an  excise tax                                                               
that included e-cigarettes starting  January 2017, a survey found                                                               
that adult  cigarette usage decreased  21.4 percent in  the first                                                               
year. He  agreed with  previous testifiers on  the effect  of tax                                                               
increases for vaping and tobacco  products. He reported that when                                                               
Ketchikan increased the  cost of cigarettes by  50 percent, there                                                               
was a  21.4 percent  decrease in  purchases. Youth  Risk Behavior                                                               
Surveillance  System   data  is   not  yet  available   for  that                                                               
timeframe,  but  he  anticipated  a  greater  decrease  in  youth                                                               
cigarette use.  However, because  of the increase  in e-cigarette                                                               
use, an overall decrease in tobacco use is not anticipated.                                                                     
2:25:14 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR   STEVENS  related   his  understanding   that  Ketchikan                                                               
increased the tax on tobacco products, but not on e-cigarettes.                                                                 
MR.  ROBBINS  answered that  the  Ketchikan  Gateway Borough  did                                                               
include e-cigarettes.  He explained  that the borough  collects a                                                               
$2 tax  per pack of  cigarettes, and it  taxes 50 percent  of the                                                               
wholesale rate on other tobacco products.                                                                                       
2:26:19 PM                                                                                                                    
ALEX MCDONALD, representing self,  Fairbanks, Alaska, stated that                                                               
SB  182 is  bad  public policy.  He reported  that  prior to  the                                                               
Medicaid  expansion, the  state received  $97 million  in revenue                                                               
from tobacco  taxes but spent  $220 million on  Medicaid smoking-                                                               
related illnesses.  He offered his  view that taxing  products to                                                               
get  people  away  from  cigarettes costs  the  state  money.  An                                                               
article  from the  National Bureau  of  Economic Research  showed                                                               
that for every  10 percent increase in e-cigarette  taxes has the                                                               
effect of  increasing cigarette  sales by  11 percent.  Thus, the                                                               
result of this  bill will be a significant  increase in cigarette                                                               
use in  the state. He  also pointed  out that these  products may                                                               
not be on the market after  May. He predicted that if the federal                                                               
government  does  not  address  free market  tobacco,  the  small                                                               
businesses producing juice  will go out of  business. He recalled                                                               
that when the  Mat-Su Borough passed a tax increase  a lot of the                                                               
shops shut down  and people ordered online.  He expressed concern                                                               
that  the  bill also  makes  people  between  the ages  of  19-21                                                               
criminals for  no good reason.  At Fort Wainwright,  soldiers who                                                               
go to and  from war zones would  not be able to  buy these vaping                                                               
products, which does not seem fair.                                                                                             
2:29:11 PM                                                                                                                    
NOEL CROWLEY-BELL,  representing self,  Palmer, Alaska,  spoke in                                                               
support  of SB  182. She  offered her  view that  this bill  will                                                               
provide the safeguards Alaska youths  need to avoid the trap that                                                               
an addiction  to nicotine brings.  She said she has  watched with                                                               
alarm the  increasing use of  e-cigarettes. Her  daughter reports                                                               
that students  use e-cigarettes in  school and her  son expresses                                                               
concern  that exposure  to second-hand  aerosol from  vaping will                                                               
cause  his asthma  to flare  up.  E-cigarette usage  is a  common                                                               
topic among parents. She asked the committee to pass SB 182.                                                                    
2:30:44 PM                                                                                                                    
SHAUN  D'SYLVA,  Co-Founder,  Clear the  Air  Alaska,  Anchorage,                                                               
Alaska,  stated that  he owns  three vapor  stores in  Anchorage,                                                               
Fairbanks, and  Wasilla. He said  that he thinks  that increasing                                                               
the age  for purchasing tobacco products  to 21 is a  great idea.                                                               
It is  a federal guideline.  However, a 75 percent  wholesale tax                                                               
is a concern. He said his  business has helped 80,000 people stop                                                               
smoking. He  said that he is  in the business of  harm reduction.                                                               
He offered  his view  that kids should  be held  responsible when                                                               
found  with vaping  products, but  he does  not support  limiting                                                               
adult  access  since vaping  products  are  a safer  option  than                                                               
tobacco. He referred to the  United Kingdom's (UK) goal, which is                                                               
no  combustible  cigarettes by  2025.  Vaping  is prescribed  for                                                               
adults to  help them stop  smoking. He  offered his view  that in                                                               
the U.S.  nicotine is demonized  but smoking is not.  However, it                                                               
is smoking  that kills,  not nicotine. He  objected to  taxing e-                                                               
products at  the same level  as cigarettes.  If the intent  is to                                                               
limit youth access, a better  approach would be to strengthen the                                                               
penalties for retailers that sell  to youth and to penalize youth                                                               
in possession.                                                                                                                  
2:33:42 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  REVAK asked  about  studies and  how  vaping is  treated                                                               
differently than tobacco cigarettes in the UK.                                                                                  
MR. D'SYLVA explained that e-cigarettes  became popular in the UK                                                               
about 2008  and Public Health  England (PHE) began  analyzing the                                                               
health implications  of vaping. In  2015, PHE, the  Royal College                                                               
of Physicians,  and UK's cancer society  released a comprehensive                                                               
study that  definitively determined  that e-cigarette use  was at                                                               
least 95  percent safer than combustible  tobacco products. Those                                                               
experts have  revisited the issue  every year since and  have not                                                               
changed  their position.  He said  the UK  allows vape  stores in                                                               
hospitals because they  would rather have adults  vape than smoke                                                               
combustible cigarettes.                                                                                                         
He  offered  his view  that  the  lung issues  mentioned  earlier                                                               
resulted  from  illegal THC  cartridges  tainted  with vitamin  E                                                               
acetate,  not  e-cigarettes.  He  opined that  if  the  state  is                                                               
worried about  public health, it  would be dangerous to  tax vape                                                               
products in the  same manner as cigarettes. He  said the taxation                                                               
rules are detrimental.                                                                                                          
2:37:39 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR STEVENS said  there may be some confusion  since the bill                                                               
follows the  federal law  on age. He  expressed a  willingness to                                                               
discuss the  tax rate  but pointed  out that  Ketchikan has  a 50                                                               
percent tax rate that has been successful in decreasing use. He                                                                 
said most people are in favor of the bill to safeguard the                                                                      
health of youth.                                                                                                                
2:38:38 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR BISHOP closed public testimony and held SB 182 in                                                                         
committee for further consideration.                                                                                            

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
SB 172 Sponsor Statement.pdf SL&C 2/18/2020 1:30:00 PM
SL&C 3/3/2020 1:30:00 PM
SB 172
SB172 DRAFT Fiscal Note DCCED CBPL 02-14-20.pdf SL&C 2/18/2020 1:30:00 PM
SL&C 3/3/2020 1:30:00 PM
SB 172
Audit of DCCED State Medical Board w responses.pdf SL&C 2/18/2020 1:30:00 PM
SL&C 3/3/2020 1:30:00 PM
SB 172
SB 172 amendment A.2.pdf SL&C 3/3/2020 1:30:00 PM
SB 172
L&C Chiropractic Examiners Lloyd #1.pdf SL&C 3/3/2020 1:30:00 PM
L&C Nursing Board Monrad #1.pdf SL&C 3/3/2020 1:30:00 PM
L&C Direct Entry Midwives St_George #1.pdf SL&C 3/3/2020 1:30:00 PM
L&C Nursing Board Henry #1.pdf SL&C 3/3/2020 1:30:00 PM
L&C Social Work Examiners Ercanbrack.pdf SL&C 3/3/2020 1:30:00 PM
L&C Veterinary Examiners Albert #1 .pdf SL&C 3/3/2020 1:30:00 PM
L&C Veterinary Examiners Flamme #1.pdf SL&C 3/3/2020 1:30:00 PM
L&C Veterinary Examiners Geiger #1 .pdf SL&C 3/3/2020 1:30:00 PM
L&C Veterinary Examiners Berngartt #1 .pdf SL&C 3/3/2020 1:30:00 PM
SB 182 Public Comment 3-03-2020.pdf SL&C 3/3/2020 1:30:00 PM
SB 182