EVCA’s Statement on Transparency Issues
June 2, 2017 – Statement to Members of the Vaping Community
We deeply appreciate the overwhelming support we have received, both publicly and privately, from so many people who have expressed sincere appreciation for the work we have done, and are continuing to do on behalf of the vaping industry. We offer a special thanks to our Board of Advisors and financial supporters. You have stood by us and encouraged us as we have worked diligently to continue our strategies to Repeal and Replace the deeming regulations.
We are proud to support leaders from the Village of Hartland, WI who last week had historic meetings with officials in the intergovernmental affairs departments of key federal agencies related to the vaping industry. Their incredible progress is a direct result of our work of introducing Hartland to the process of coordination. While some have tried to distract others from our work, whether last fall when we were growing a grassroots army that rose up to affect change, or more recently in regard to the coordination hearings in Hartland, we would like to point out that as a result of our efforts, the Hartland Village Board unanimously agreed to call the FDA into the process of coordination and to hold a public hearing that was watched by tens of thousands of people across the world and that provided one of the most (if not the most) comprehensive testimonial accounts to date regarding the issues surrounding the vaping industry, especially as they relate to the FDA deeming regulations. We not only introduced Hartland to coordination, we also secured witnesses for the hearing. The witnesses provided in-depth testimony regarding the economic and public health concerns surrounding the deeming regulations. The Secretary of Health and Human Services acknowledged the hearing and the department is aware of the concerns brought forth by the Village of Hartland. Those involved in intergovernmental affairs are also very aware of the hearing and of the laws of coordination.
The official Findings from that historic hearing were delivered to the appropriate federal agencies last week, and Hartland officials have been told they would have an answer within a month. The Hartland hearings have set an important milestone in the regulatory affairs process.
Coordination is mandated by federal statute and will hopefully bring reprieve to business owners who hope to survive the effects of the egregious regulations. As a result of our forward vision, Fred Kelly Grant helped to obtain the appointments for Hartland officials with the intergovernmental affairs offices of the three federal agencies most involved with issues surrounding the vaping industry. The Village President and Village Administrator were told by agency officials that they had marching orders from the President to work with local governments and they would do so in good faith. Every executive order issued by President Trump has emphasized the importance of working with local governments, and one of them reinforced the existence and lawful mandate of coordination. We continue to work with the process to help other local governments take the giant step into the future for their constituents in the industry.
We are proud to work with Mr. Fred Kelly Grant, who is the nation’s leading expert on coordination strategies. We recently issued a statement regarding Mr. Grant that is easily found on our website. There is nothing now or in the past that limits Mr. Grant’s ability to continue in his role regarding coordination strategies. We are honored to work with such a true patriot. Anyone who has followed his stunning legal career recognizes his selfless service (often without pay) to many who have relied on his help when their personal rights were in danger due to government over-regulation.
In addition, we are also working closely with Congressman Duncan Hunter (R-CA), the sponsor of legislation (H.R. 2194) that provides a framework for an appropriate regulatory environment. As it travels through the legislative process, we hope the vaping community will provide input and support. The witnesses testified in Hartland of the need for appropriate regulations that protect consumers and allow for the industry to have a viable future. While we respect the opinions of others, and are supportive of the efforts towards Cole-Bishop, we strongly believe the best long-term solution lies in a Repeal and Replace strategy. We will continue to pursue that goal.
We are happy to lead the industry in transparency. We have a highly respected, third party accounting firm assisting us with preparing statements regarding our financial activities and annual Form 990. We are committed to transparency and encourage the other industry groups to do the same.
Our success and speed may put off some of the early advocates of the industry, but we are dismayed that they would seek to malign our work and reputations; with no regard to the harm such divisions have upon those they claim to serve.
We encourage people to remember that just because something is in print or on social media, it does not make it a fact. We would like to set the record straight that we offered to have a conference call that would have included us, Mr. Grant, and leaders of the group questioning our integrity. We offered our time to answer any questions. That group refused our call and chose instead to issue a statement based on ignorance of facts.
We have waited to respond publicly on purpose. We have nothing to hide, we are proud of our efforts, and we chose to not allow false accusations to distract or deter us from the work we had scheduled. We chose to focus on our pre-scheduled meetings and activities rather than respond to baseless allegations. We have led with actions, not words, and have sought creative approaches to help the industry. We press forward with focus and determination.
Our decades of political experience have gained us respect for our ability to produce results – whether for grassroots engagement, issue advocacy, or promoting political candidates. Our work has spoken for itself over the years, and as we learned of the egregious deeming regulations, we simply wanted to use our skills and experience to help the industry. We do not presume to be the judge of the motivations, actions, or operations of other advocacy groups. We seek only to work with excellence and provide results to those we serve.
We believe a rising tide raises all ships. When we started the Electronic Vaping Coalition of America, we spoke repeatedly of the need for everyone in the industry to “play well in the sandbox” in order to save the industry. We have, and continue to follow our own advice. We realized there were others who had been working for years in the advocacy space and we respected – and even promoted – their work. One of our earliest events evidenced that fact when we invited many leaders of the vaping industry to the briefing we organized and sponsored prior to the U.S. premiere of “A Billion Lives” in Milwaukee last summer. We brought together nearly sixty members of the vaping industry (many of whom had never been in a room together before), and a panel that included United States Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI), A Billion Lives producer, Aaron Biebert, Radio Talk Show Host, Vicki McKenna, and former presidential candidate, Herman Cain. We also invited other advocacy groups to attend and speak at our Vape Rally, held on October 15, 2016, at Johnson Creek Enterprises in Hartland, WI. This was an EVCA sponsored event, yet other groups were mentioned and even promoted. We have led by example, not just with words.
We have often reached out to other groups to inform or invite them of our events, strategies, etc. We have done so, even though it was not always reciprocated. We have also encouraged people to join or stay involved with other groups. We believe each group can have a relevant role.
When people put aside their various differences and work towards shared goals on a larger scale, amazing things happen. This was evidenced by the great example the Wisconsin vaping community showed by standing together in support of Senator Ron Johnson in the last election. We salute our friends in Wisconsin who took time to look at facts, understand issues, and to educate others. They showed the world that the vaping community is strong, can be united, and are not to be ignored. That type of unity is what is needed now.
It seems to us, that in a time of such desperation, the industry would support all efforts and individuals working to save the industry before more businesses are forced to cease operations. We encourage everyone who sincerely cares about the industry – and the millions of people whose lives are impacted by it – to focus on the goal of creating an appropriate regulatory environment that will protect consumers and allow the industry to innovate and thrive.
-Mark Block, Founder and Director
-Linda J. Hansen, Strategic Consultant & Co-Founder
Advisors: Shaun Casey, President, Flavour Art North America, Inc.; Lonnie Bozeman, CEO, Saveurvape, Inc.; Andrew Agler, CFO, Saveurvape, Inc.; Antonio & Jen Lauria, Wisco Liquids, LLC; Scott Sidney, Smoke Safely, LLC; Christian Berkey, CEO, Johnson Creek Enterprises; Heidi Braun, President & COO, Johnson Creek Enterprises; Michael McCrary, Partner, VaporCast; Bill Godshall, Executive Director, Smokefree Pennsylvania