President Donald Trump has reversed course on banning flavored electronic cigarettes, or vape liquid. That is according to reports in major media outlets, including The New York Times and Washington Post, taken from unnamed campaign and administration sources. Those sources attribute the reversal to political considerations about the reaction from battleground state voters. Trump was persuaded by vaping industry lobbyists that the political cost of the ban would be high in these precious polling areas and that vape store owners and their customers would strongly resent the move.
As Liberty Nation’s Andrew Moran reported in September, Trump planned to institute a ban on flavored vape products through the Food and Drug Administration’s power to regulate products containing nicotine.
Up in the Air
We learned from The Times that President Trump changed his mind on a flight from D.C. to a rally in Kentucky on Nov. 4:
“Mr. Trump was swayed by the advisers who warned him of political repercussions to any sweeping restrictions. Reviewing talking points on the ban aboard the plane with advisers, Mr. Trump decided to cancel the administration’s rollout of an announcement, which included a news conference that Alex M. Azar II, the health and human services secretary, was planning to hold on the issue the next day.”
The Times reports a key factor was a poll conducted in battleground states by John McLaughlin, a Trump campaign pollster, for the Vapor Technology Association. The battleground states, including Florida and Pennsylvania, are the ones that will pick the next president, and they are up for grabs. According to The Post report, “[o]fficials said the blowback to Trump’s vow to ban most flavored e-cigarettes had rattled him.” Social media played a big part with the hashtag #IVapeIVote, as “advocates claimed the ban would shut down thousands of shops, eliminating jobs and sending vapers back to cigarettes.”
Who Likes the Taste of Tobacco?
The measure to eliminate flavored products was sold as a way to discourage underage vape users. The problem is the flavored products appeal to users of all ages. It’s not as if people choose to smoke because they enjoy the flavors in tobacco; it’s the nicotine! Juul, the nation’s largest vape company, owned in part by tobacco giant Phillip Morris’ parent company, Altria, recently stopped selling all its products except tobacco and menthol flavors. Mint had been the biggest seller, with 70% of the market.
The deaths and rapid-onset lung diseases from vaping touted in recent headlines have all been attributed to illegal THC (marijuana) vape products. Creating a new black market for flavored vape products containing nicotine hardly seems like the road to good health, given all we know about Prohibition and the appeal of the forbidden fruit.
Read more from Scott D. Cosenza.