Advocacy

Tell your Massachusetts State Legislators to SAY NO to H.3471 Which Would Block Consumer Access to Dietary Supplements!

NPA East Remains Undefeated in Blocking Bad Legislation in 2014

Thanks to the constant diligence of NPA East Board members and staff, not one harmful bill has made it through the legislatures of the states that comprise the East Region. In late April 2014, President John Montague, Board Member Adam Goodman, Shahila Rose and Executive Director, Paul Kushner, paid a visit to the offices of Senator Kenneth LaValle and Assemblyman Felix Ortiz, the sponsors of two bills that could have severely restricted the ability of independent retailers in New York State to conduct business and serve their customers without the burden of two proposed bills.

Bill A8002/S01649 would have required that “anyone selling dietary supplements that make health or appearance claims possess competent and scientific evidence that substantiates those claims.” The bill would also have required a warning statement on the product label or handout if the product claim is not approved by the US Food and Drug Administration. The second bill, A04700/S3650 would have created a Dietary Supplements Committee that planned to establish “adequate standards and enforcement for manufacturing, safety, and effectiveness” for all dietary supplements. This bill would have effectively created a New York State version of the FDA, with its own set of restrictive laws.

What happens in New York doesn’t stay in New York

As often happens, other states adopt legislation with its origins in New York. So even if you don’t live in New York, similar bills could easily find their way to your local legislature. Fortunately, we were able to stop both bills from moving through the legislature and becoming law.

More work to do

Sadly, our industry seems to be constantly under scrutiny by politi­cians and the media. We are all well aware of our industry’s safety record. However, I challenge you to do a search on both Bing and Google for vitamin safety. What you will find is a multitude of articles discussing the dangers and how you must always use caution when taking dietary supplements.

We believe this negative publicity causes certain state senators and rep­resentatives to believe they are acting in the public’s interest, believ­ing our industry is fraught with dangers. New York representatives decided to circumvent the FDA when it came to DMAA. They went ahead and voted to outlaw the sales of DMAA in New York based on the reported death of a user. When it became clear that the person’s death was not related to DMAA, New York set a precedent by passing legislation to restrict consumers’ right to access vitamins.

At the same time, legislators in New York have proposed setting up a three-member panel that would have the right to pull any supple­ment off the market that they deemed unsafe. This is why we have made a number of trips to the state capital to talk with New York legislators and ensure that they are aware of the safety of dietary supplements.

It seems that our industry gets all the negative press, while dangers associated with energy drinks are not given the same level of scru­tiny. A recent search showed one energy drink was associated with five deaths. If we consider the vote to ban DMAA, we can see that there is a clear bias against dietary supplements.

We are the first to identify the marginal players who plague our industry, and we fully support the NPA when they have asked the FDA to remove their products and protect the public safety. What really concerns us, however, are states creating their own guidelines that supersede the FDA’s existing ones. What state would consider regulating over the counter products, which have a much worse safety record?

An Amazing Eight-Year Track Record of Success

For nearly eight consecutive years, the NPA East Board and staff have beaten back nearly every bill of consequence to independent retailers. Even the few that slipped through were modified as a direct result of intervention by members of the Board. It’s expensive and time-consuming work. With 12 states to protect, the job can get overwhelming. That’s why we’re asking for your support.

A Request for Support

It has been nearly ten years since we have reached out to independent retailers and suppliers in the East Region to help and maintain the Association’s advocacy efforts. Now the time has come to ask for your financial support again. Especially in New York State, the bills we have successfully killed often get re-introduced every year. This means our battle to protect the East Region is a constant one that requires a major commitment in time and financial resources. Throughout the year, we will be asking for your help to ensure that NPA East is able to continue to protect you from legislation that would seriously compromise your ability to do business and provide your customers with unrestricted access to all natural products. 100% of your contribution will be used to support the Association’s advocacy efforts.