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January 11, 2016 6:00PM, Tacoma, WA
Pierce County’s over-regulation will greatly damage and in some cases completely destroy small businesses for no valid reason or public health interest.
Pink Lung Brigade (PLB) has filed suit against Tacoma Pierce County Health Department (TPCHD), seeking an injunction, for passing amendments to preexisting vapor product regulations. PLB claims the amendments are not based on any verifiable scientific data and do nothing to protect public health or reduce youth access. In fact, the regulatory amendments adopted by TPCHD serve to harm public health by restricting adult access to products that are widely used as a safer alternative to smoking.
The new rules, which were adopted on Nov. 18th 2015, went into effect on Jan. 1st 2016. Enforcement waits for TPCHD to figure out how to manage the regulations they’ve passed and establish a licensure system. Small businesses in the community will suffer immensely under the new amendments, which will lead to shop owners closing their doors and job losses across the county. Pierce County will not only implement a new tax under the guise of licensure they will also now require retail vape shops to install unnecessary HVAC filtration systems in their establishments. Some buildings are too old to meet the requirements while others, after permitting and construction, could see hefty price tags of up to 75k-80k.
The current amendment restricts minors from entering retail vape shops and is agreeable to vape shop owners however, according to Pierce County’s new rules, once an adult enters an establishment they seek to dictate how that customer will be serviced. It mandates that retail vape shops remove all comfortable seating and force customers to stand while participating in a consultative process that can take up to an hour or more to facilitate. Sampling and testing of vapor products has now been limited to three people at a time, making an impossible scenario for the in and out customer.
Pierce County has also banned the use of nicotine in the sampling of e-liquid and they pledge to do testing stings at the cost of the retailer. Nicotine testing from a certified lab can cost upwards of 3k for just 6 flavors while some vape shops can carry varieties of up to 300 flavors. Pierce County has set no limits for the amount of samples it can request for testing. This new rule can be abused to force a retail shop into bankruptcy. Pierce County is over-regulating small business out of business.
“Regardless of any good intentions here, the problem is the Health Board has overstepped its authority and it is going to hurt small businesses and interfere with the public moving away from smoking. So my clients are looking to the courts to set things right and let the state legislature tackle this problem.” PLB’s Attorney Eric Krening of Osinski Law Offices.
Pink Lung Brigade was founded in 2014. Supporters include its members of industry professionals, local commerce chambers, as well as, legislators and government officials with a focus on promoting better solutions and healthy economic growth. PLB’s officers and its members have advocated for common sense regulations and youth prevention since before its inception as a business association. PLB is legally represented by Thomas Osinski and Eric Krening of Osinski Law Offices P.L.L.C.