In the wake of several respiratory-related deaths being attributed to e-cigarettes, the Trump administration is pondering a ban on flavored e-juice, which critics say is more likely to attract underage kids to products like Juul and other e-cigarettes. Though there is considerable evidence to suggest that these deaths had more to do with black-market THC vapes than mainstream nicotine juices, they have inspired a full-on panic in the health community, and there is political pressure to “do something” to stop this vaping “epidemic” among teens before there are more fatalities.
According to Axios, however, Republican advisers and conservative leaders are warning White House staffers that if Trump follows through with such a ban, he could lose just the sort of on-the-fence supporters he needs to capture a second term in office.
Between the lines: The data reveals that the number of adult vapers in key battleground states greatly outweighs the margins by which Trump won those states in 2016 — and they argue it could cost him reelection.
What we’re hearing: “While parents may be concerned about e-cigarettes, the people who genuinely care about vaping as a voting issue so far outweighs the number of people Trump needs to win in 2020 that they are royally screwing themselves by doing this,” Paul Blair, the director of strategic initiatives at Americans for Tax Reform, tells me.
Suburban moms concerned about vaping “don’t have the same voter intensity on this as adult vapers do,” an industry lobbyist said.
Florida, which Trump won by 113,000 voters, had about 873,000 adult vapers in 2016. They reason that if 1 in 8 vapers turn against Trump in 2020 because he foreclosed their vaping options, it could jeopardize the election.
So, there’s a lot to process here, and it doesn’t help that everyone is making correlations that don’t necessarily exist. The vaping critics are connecting these deaths to a danger in traditional e-cigs – and there’s not enough evidence to suggest that connection is there. On the flipside, Trump’s advisers are connecting vapers with supporters of the president, and there’s also very little evidence to suggest a tight correlation there.
Even so, we have to come down firmly against an FDA ban on flavored e-juice. Is vaping safe? The jury is still out. Is it safer than smoking cigarettes? There’s almost no way to conclude otherwise. By enacting a ban, all the Trump administration will do is encourage a deepening black market – that will CAUSE more deaths, not prevent them. This technology is out of the bag, and no law is going to force it back in. Trump would do wise to listen to the enormous, clanging backlash and leave this issue alone.