Legislature(2019 - 2020)BARNES 124

03/10/2020 08:00 AM COMMUNITY & REGIONAL AFFAIRS

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Audio Topic
08:05:07 AM Start
08:05:49 AM HB174
08:51:32 AM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+= HB 174 MIN. AGE TO POSSESS NICOTINE/ECIG PRODUCT TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSHB 174(CRA) Out of Committee
-- Public Testimony --
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
        HB 174-MIN. AGE TO POSSESS NICOTINE/ECIG PRODUCT                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
8:05:49 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR HANNAN announced  that the only order  of business would                                                               
be  HOUSE BILL  NO.  174,  "An Act  raising  the  minimum age  to                                                               
purchase,  sell,  exchange,  or   possess  a  product  containing                                                               
nicotine or an  electronic smoking product; and  providing for an                                                               
effective date."   [Before  the committee,  adopted as  a working                                                               
draft on 3/5/20,  was the proposed committee  substitute (CS) for                                                               
HB 174, Version  31-LS0957\S, Caouette/Radford, 2/21/20, "Version                                                               
S."]                                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
8:06:57 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
KERRY  BOCKER, Staff,  Representative  Gary  Knopp, Alaska  State                                                               
Legislature,  offered  an  overview  of   HB  174  on  behalf  of                                                               
Representative  Knopp,  prime  sponsor.   He  said  the  proposed                                                               
legislation   would   conform   Alaska   Statute   with   federal                                                               
guidelines;  it would  raise the  legal age  [to purchase,  sell,                                                               
exchange,  or  possess  a  product   containing  nicotine  or  an                                                               
electronic smoking product] from 19 to 21.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
8:07:53 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR HANNAN opened public testimony on HB 174.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
8:08:08 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
The committee took an at-ease from 8:08 a.m. to 8:09 a.m.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
8:09:14 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
NOEL CROWLEY  BELL testified in  support of  HB 174.   She opined                                                               
that it  makes sense  to give children's  brains time  to develop                                                               
before "introducing an addictive  product like nicotine," clearly                                                               
identify a  standard age  for all adult  products known  to alter                                                               
brain  operation when  used, and  have legislation  in line  with                                                               
federal law.  She urged passage of HB 174.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
8:11:17 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JOSEPH  YOURKOSKI,  Volunteer,  American Cancer  Society,  Cancer                                                               
Action Network,  had his testimony in  support of HB 174  read by                                                               
Heather Aronno, as follows:                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     Hello, I am testifying on behalf of the American                                                                           
     Cancer Society Cancer Action Network in support of HB
     174.  I am from Nikiski, Alaska, and am a senior at                                                                        
     Nikiski Middle/High School.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     When I was four and a half years old, I was diagnosed                                                                      
     with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.  This three and a                                                                       
     half-year battle would result in more than 30 blood                                                                        
     transfusions, numerous spinal taps, and what seemed                                                                        
     like endless amounts of chemotherapy.  This grueling                                                                       
     battle would end for me with a positive outcome, but                                                                       
     for others it would not.  That's why I became involved                                                                     
     with American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network                                                                         
     five years ago to help others fight this terrible                                                                          
     disease, to pay it forward for those children who lost                                                                     
     their battle with cancer.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
     This bill is a simple and easy way to prevent cancer                                                                       
     in Alaskans.  It has been proven time and time again                                                                       
     that the longer it takes for someone to start using                                                                        
     tobacco the less likely they'll start in the first                                                                         
     place.  By increasing the age of sale of tobacco                                                                           
     products in Alaska to 21, we are protecting the youth                                                                      
     of Alaska from a fatal habit.  Furthermore this bill                                                                       
     simply brings Alaska law into compliance with the new                                                                      
     federal law, allowing the state to enforce compliance                                                                      
     rather than waiting for the federal government to.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
     I'm asking you as not only a volunteer ..., [but also                                                                      
     as] a cancer survivor, and a concerned Alaskan to                                                                          
     support HB 174.  Thank you.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     Sincerely,                                                                                                                 
     Joseph Yourkoski                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
8:13:41 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
TERRENCE ROBBINS, testifying in support  of HB 174, noted that he                                                               
had  worked  several  years  in  the area  of  tobacco  and  drug                                                               
prevention.   He  said he  teaches Not  On Tobacco  (NOT) clinics                                                               
through  the  American Lung  Association  for  youth addicted  to                                                               
tobacco.  He surveys his students  and has found that 100 percent                                                               
of them acquire their tobacco from  older friends and family.  He                                                               
said raising the  age to 21 would decrease the  circle of friends                                                               
and family  who could  purchase for them,  making it  less likely                                                               
for  addiction to  occur.   Mr. Robbins  emphasized that  this is                                                               
important, because  95 percent of smokers  become addicted before                                                               
the age of 21.  The [federal]  law is predicted to reduce the use                                                               
of tobacco  by youth by 25  percent.  This would  result in fewer                                                               
young tobacco users,  who turn into adult smokers,  which in turn                                                               
saves communities from "the burdens of  the cost of smoking."  He                                                               
related that  he has lost  many aunts  and uncles to  smoking and                                                               
secondhand smoke.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MR.  ROBBINS  said  Stanton  Glantz,  PhD,  a  professor  at  the                                                               
University of  California, San Francisco,  and a  leading tobacco                                                               
researcher in the  country, just sent out an  e-mail stating that                                                               
in terms of the coronavirus, smokers  are 14 times more likely to                                                               
have   "an  escalation,"   up  to   and  including   death,  than                                                               
nonsmokers.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
8:16:58 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CASSIE FROST,  Volunteer, American  Cancer Society,  testified in                                                               
support  of HB  174.   She  related  that she  is  in a  master's                                                               
program for  social work, and  as part of  that she is  doing her                                                               
practicum at  the American Cancer  Society.   As a mother  and an                                                               
individual  who  has worked  in  the  area  of youth  and  family                                                               
services for  over 10  years, she is  concerned about  the health                                                               
and  wellbeing  of  youth.    She said  tobacco  use  has  had  a                                                               
significant impact on  her own family; her  grandmother died from                                                               
lung disease related to tobacco use,  and both her mother and her                                                               
youngest sister  are experiencing health  complications resulting                                                               
from tobacco use.   All three began using tobacco  when they were                                                               
teenagers.  She emphasized that it  is important to her to ensure                                                               
long life and good health for  everyone in Alaska.  She asked the                                                               
committee to move HB 174 to match federal guidelines.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
8:18:59 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SHAUN D'SYLVA testified  in support of HB 174.   He noted that he                                                               
owns three  "vaper" stores:   one in  Fairbanks, one  in Wasilla,                                                               
and one in  Anchorage.  He said when the  federal law was passed,                                                               
he called "the tobacco control" in  Alaska and was told that that                                                               
entity  was not  planning to  enforce the  federal law  until the                                                               
state "put something forward."  He  said he is pleased to support                                                               
that.   He said the responsibility  of his business is  to ensure                                                               
that underage  youths are not  given access to  tobacco products.                                                               
He echoed previous  testimony that with a lower  age limit, there                                                               
are  more  people "in  a  cohort"  that  can  get access  to  the                                                               
products and provide them to youth.   He said he believes that HB
174 would help  ensure that these products are only  in the hands                                                               
of responsible adults.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
8:20:35 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MICHAEL SCRIVEN  testified in support of  HB 174.  He  said he is                                                               
involved  with Parents  Against Vaping  and E-Cigarettes  (PAVE).                                                               
He  thanked the  bill  sponsor  and staff,  as  well as  Co-Chair                                                               
Hannan for  a letter of  support she had  sent his daughter.   He                                                               
said he would like to see  "a complete flavor ban" on e-cigarette                                                               
products.   He said he could  not tell whether the  bill included                                                               
devices.  He shared that his  involvement in the issue is in part                                                               
a result  of having found  vaping products in his  son's vehicle.                                                               
He said  he believes  the proposed  legislation would  reduce the                                                               
ability of teenagers to acquire these products.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
8:24:14 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ANN  SIMONS, Juul  Labs, testified  in support  of HB  174.   She                                                               
stated that  increasing the age  to 21  would be the  single most                                                               
impactful policy  the legislature could  pass.  She said  over 70                                                               
percent  of  children  access tobacco  products  from  a  friend,                                                               
perhaps  an 18-year-old  friend.   She  said  Juul Labs  supports                                                               
"Tobacco  21,"  because  it  believes that  no  child  should  be                                                               
accessing its product.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
8:25:15 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MATT WAGGONER,  FatBoy Vapors,  testified in  support of  HB 174.                                                               
He said  FatBoy Vapors is  in Fairbanks, Wasilla,  and Anchorage.                                                               
He said response  from customers has been  that e-cigarettes have                                                               
changed  their   lives  by  helping   them  discontinue   use  of                                                               
combustible cigarettes.  He said  he believes the State of Alaska                                                               
should change its  law to be in compliance with  the federal law.                                                               
Further,  he said  he believes  HB  174 would  prevent access  by                                                               
youth  to e-products,  as well  as traditional  tobacco products.                                                               
He said the goal of FatBoy  Vapors is to wean people off nicotine                                                               
use  altogether, and  the proposed  legislation "encourages  that                                                               
projection by preventing access at an early age."                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
8:26:45 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MIKE COONS  testified in  opposition to  HB 174.   He  shared his                                                               
history with smoking.  He said a  person at the age of 18 doesn't                                                               
make a  lot of good decisions,  and yet he/she is  an adult, who,                                                               
for example, can vote  and be drafted.  He said  the issue of who                                                               
is a  minor and  who is  an adult keeps  shifting.   He mentioned                                                               
people  vaping without  a  problem.   He  criticized the  state's                                                               
"cessation  group" as  "the most  worthless organization"  he had                                                               
ever seen  in terms of  helping him  quit smoking.   He concluded                                                               
that  "this boils  down  to  personal choice"  as  to whether  to                                                               
"choose to  be smart or  choose to be  dumb."  He  reiterated his                                                               
opposition to the proposed legislation.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
8:30:35 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
EMILY  NENON,  Director,  Alaska Government  Relations,  American                                                               
Cancer Society,  testified in  support of HB  174.   She credited                                                               
the work  of the bill sponsor.   She said Alaska  is fortunate to                                                               
have  "a   robust  youth  compliance  check   program"  and  good                                                               
relationships with  vendors.  She  said the  proposed legislation                                                               
is not a  panacea, but is an important piece  of legislation with                                                               
which to align [Alaska statute] with federal [law].                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
8:33:05 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SARAH EATON,  Owner, Alaska  Elixirs Vapes, LLC,  said she  is on                                                               
the fence regarding  the proposed legislation.  She  said her son                                                               
works for her and is age 19.   She questioned what she would have                                                               
to do  if the age  were raised to 21,  because her son  needs the                                                               
job.   Nevertheless, she  said she  agrees with  keeping underage                                                               
youth out  of her store, and  she offered an example  of what she                                                               
has done to  ensure that.  She  opined that while it  is not okay                                                               
for young people  to have these products, it is  also not okay to                                                               
take away the rights of young  adults.  She emphasized the way to                                                               
get these products out of the hands  of children is to get it off                                                               
the Internet.  As an example,  she related that she had asked her                                                               
underage daughter  to try  to buy  products online  and in-store,                                                               
and her  daughter was  able to do  so by the  former but  not the                                                               
latter method.  She revisited  the idea of young adults currently                                                               
working in vape shops who would  lose their jobs if the age limit                                                               
were raised.   She asked the committee to  consider a grandfather                                                               
clause for current employees ages 19 through 20.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
8:38:11 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR HANNAN  asked whether Ms. Eaton  currently complies with                                                               
the  federal  21  law  and  whether  stores  had  been  contacted                                                               
regarding a compliance date.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. EATON answered that she  called "tobacco enforcement" to find                                                               
out what was going on and was told  that it was her call, that it                                                               
was "a  suggestion."  She said  there was indication that  if the                                                               
federal  law was  not followed,  then there  would be  a loss  of                                                               
funding; however,  she noted  that Idaho said  "no" and  is still                                                               
receiving funding.  She said  her employees watch a video, called                                                               
"We Card," which trains employees  in how to check identification                                                               
(ID) and know  the right things to say  to disgruntled customers.                                                               
Further, she said her store displays highly visible signage.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
8:41:49 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE JACKSON  asked whether  Ms. Eaton's son  smokes or                                                               
vapes.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MS. EATON answered that he vapes.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE JACKSON  then asked Ms. Eaton  whether her primary                                                               
concern was that her son would not  be able to [vape] or would be                                                               
unable to "grow the family business."                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MS.  EATON  replied,  "He  won't  be  able  to  grow  the  family                                                               
business."  She noted that her son was present in the room.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  JACKSON expressed  support  for those  supporting                                                               
their families'  businesses.  She  asked whether Ms.  Eaton's son                                                               
would be  willing to sign  a contract that  he would not  vape or                                                               
smoke until he turned 21.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
8:44:20 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CAMERON EATON  said he  would be  "100 percent  down to  sign any                                                               
type of contract."  He shared  that he has family members who are                                                               
dying  from  lung-related  illness;  his  grandfather  is  "on  a                                                               
respirator."   He  said he  agrees there  needs to  be adjustment                                                               
made  to make  it more  difficult  for underage  youth to  access                                                               
[cigarettes and  e-cigarettes].   He indicted  that the  issue of                                                               
work is one  that concerns him.  In response  to Co-Chair Hannan,                                                               
he said he would turn 21 in August 2020.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
8:45:14 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR HANNAN pointed  out that if passed, HB 174  would not go                                                               
into effect until January 1, 2021.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
8:45:31 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS.  EATON said  she  had  heard it  could  go  into effect  this                                                               
summer.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR HANNAN explained effective  dates and reiterated that as                                                               
written,  [Version S  of] HB  174  would take  effect January  1,                                                               
2021.   She said  sometimes effective  dates change,  but usually                                                               
they are not moved up, because  there needs to be sufficient time                                                               
for agencies to prepare.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
8:46:23 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE JACKSON  asked Mr.  Eaton to  confirm that  he was                                                               
saying  he  was  willing  to  not smoke  in  order  to  keep  his                                                               
employment.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
8:46:42 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR.  EATON  answered,  "Yes,  100 percent."    He  explained  his                                                               
impetus to  smoke in  the first  place, and he  said he  has been                                                               
able  to  get  completely  off   nicotine  through  vaping.    He                                                               
indicated  that  the  only  reason  he still  vapes  is  to  show                                                               
customers how to do it.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
8:47:46 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR DRUMMOND  asked whether  there was a  "step-down" system                                                               
in vaping to help a person discontinue the use of e-cigarettes.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR. EATON answered yes and offered further details.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  DRUMMOND said  she  thought  that was  the  case.   She                                                               
reiterated   the  information   about  the   effective  date   to                                                               
illustrate that  Mr. Eaton  need not worry  about having  to quit                                                               
his job.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
8:50:14 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR HANNAN,  after ascertaining  that there  was no  one who                                                               
wished to testify, closed public testimony on HB 174.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
8:50:35 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR DRUMMOND moved to report  CSHB 174, Version 31-LS0957\S,                                                               
Caouette/Radford,  2/21/20,  out  of  committee  with  individual                                                               
recommendations and  the accompanying fiscal notes.   There being                                                               
no  objection,  CSHB  174(CRA)  was reported  out  of  the  House                                                               
Community and Regional Affairs Standing Committee.                                                                              

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