Friday, July 31, 2015

An open letter to Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson

July 21, 2015

Dear Governor Asa Hutchinson,

I am writing today to say “Thank you!”

I had been led to believe that smoking was bad for you. I had further been led to believe that personal vaporizers and e-liquids might be able to provide an escape from the cycle of addiction that smoking had created for me and many of my friends. In fact, I quit smoking and have not smoked a cigarette for eight months. I feel better, breathe easier, smell better – in both senses of the phrase – and I no longer have to contend with piles of stinking cigarette butts and ash that sticks to everything. I was so enthused by the prospect of stopping smoking that I helped my step-son and step-daughter quit smoking, too. My non-smoking wife was very happy about that turn of events as she was tired of the smell, worried about our health, and worried about her own exposure to second hand smoke.

Not only had I quit smoking, but I had reduced my nicotine intake from bottles of 2.4% nicotine strengths to bottles with 0.6% and below nicotine strength. I have 4 bottles of e-liquid that contain no nicotine at all.

Thank you for setting me straight!

Now, thanks to you and the 90th general assembly of the state of Arkansas, I am about to leave on a trip to the local convenience store to purchase the first pack of cigarettes I have had in eight months. While I’m there, I might pick up a pack for my step-daughter and step-son, too. Don’t worry – they’re both well over 18.

Why would I do such a drastic thing? Because I can no longer purchase the e-liquids or hardware online. There are no stores catering to “vapers” in my little town. The nearest is about 45 miles away. That store, owned and operated by a young, likable entrepreneur, will likely go out of business as I don’t think he can afford the licensure or the increased cost of the e-liquid and hardware that Arkansas Act 1235 will bring down on him. There are two more brick and mortar shops even further away. I imagine that one of them might survive as it’s a franchise. I doubt I will be able to afford anything in that shop in the near future, though.

I guess I should also thank you for increasing unemployment in Arkansas as many of these small, locally owned businesses shut down. And, thanks for the reduced tax base for those towns losing these businesses.

I understand the reasoning as stated in the wording of the act: You want to protect us from shoddily made e-liquids. Out of curiosity, how many instances of shoddy e-liquid have been reported in the state of Arkansas in the last couple years? I did a rather comprehensive search and could find not a single reported instance.

In that search I did see a report that indicated that calls to poison control centers were up in the past several years, but was actually on the decline this year. Of course, this has more to do with the way the product is packaged and not the product itself. I – being older than a child – have no problems with childproof caps and tamper evident seals. In fact, I don’t mind the labeling requirements, either.

You want to protect the children from entering stores that have signs in the windows clearly stating no admittance to anyone under the age of 18, and purchasing devices and e-liquids typically labeled as for use only by persons of legal smoking age. I understand that, just as I understand that any and all online venues I have visited require age verification as well as a credit card – something many children do not, to my knowledge, have.

Am I missing another reason for sending me back to cigarettes? Perhaps there was something in the 44 page document (that received little or no media attention after it was declared stalled back in March) that I missed that will make all of this clearer.

Oh, sure, I could try an alternative. The problem with that plan is I’ve already tried all the alternatives except Wellbutrin and Chantrix. Something about the side effects including suicide rather put me off. I tried the Patch, the Gum, the Lozenge. Not one of those products helped me quit smoking. Indeed, I spent a good deal of time researching how effective these other methods are. At the top of the list of effective treatments was a patch and prescription inhaler combination. If I use the patch and a nicotine inhaler (which is kind of what I was using, but without the patch, the patch’s side effects, and the additional prescription’s cost), research indicates a whopping 2.7% success rate. No comparison to the 100% success rate I had using a personal vaporizer and e-liquid.

Cigarettes, on the other hand, are readily available at any convenience store, grocery store, or liquor store. Sure, they’re expensive, but nothing like the cost of e-liquid after this law requires all vendors to pass on the cost of licensing, inspection, bonding, and the increased wholesale cost of the products after the wholesalers have had to go through the same routine… if they even chose to do so.

Thanks to you and the 90th general assembly of the state of Arkansas, I now know that the best way to quit is the method my father used.

He died of COPD and Small Cell Lung Cancer on October 27, 2014.

And, I have to apologize. I started this letter with “Dear Governor Asa Hutchison,” and I’m not mailing it to you. I really feel that letting this letter get read once by a staffer somewhere down the line and then filed or tossed is a disservice to my family and to any person that has managed to quit or reduce their addiction to cigarettes. That’s why I’m sending it as an open letter to every editor of every newspaper I can find.


Shawn K. Hoefer


  1. AWESOME piece man - I just reposted this on my blog hope you like it im going to be sharing the hell out of this!!! See if we can et EVERYONE who care to take action and write into Governors all ove the states before its to late!

  2. Very well written. Thank you Shawn

  3. Attaboy Shawn....the government has not one iota of concern about who this will affect besides themselves. Thanks for pointing this out to them.

  4. Nice letter Shawn. its too bad that payoff money from big tobacco to this governor means more than lives and truth. none of these laws have anything to do with protecting anyone but to protect the income of the BT death machine and the handsome gifts and perks to their minions like governor hutchinson. truly pathetic!

  5. Very well done. You should mail it to him though, and request a reply.

  6. Governor Hutchinson would like to thank you for purchasing those cigarettes and contributing both to the Arkansas tobacco tax as well as the Master Settlement Agreement funds that the tobacco companies pay to Arkansas every year. With your donation, he promises to allow the Arkansas Health Department and other MSA funded health groups to continue to lie to you about the supposed "dangers" of e-cigarettes. He also promises to line his pockets in an attempt to protect himself from the cold, harsh reality of a continued Arkansas economic downfall.

  7. So true! Very well done. I feel the need to share this one!

  8. I couldn't have said all of that any better. I don't live in that state, but it's only a matter of time that the dominoes fall, and one after another, the rest follow suit. I don't have many people on facebook but will share this publicly and do what I can to get it out there.

  9. OUTSTANDING SHAWN.. just as Arkansas has been *shut down* for vaping, now CA if fighting along with many other States will follow. Truthfully I tried Chantix immediate reaction - which resulted in a Hospital stay YAY PRIMARILY I DO HOPE YOU MANAGED TO LOCATE SOME WAY TO STAY VAPING, to me that says *they* win... there are vapers out here in the NET who will help.. Shout out you know where.
    It truly is a tragedy.and more so DISGUSTING !