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As debate surrounding the use and marketing of e-cigarettes and vapes has swirled around Washington for the past few months, one of the most important voices has, buy-in-large, been entirely ignored. The moderately sized group of protesters that rallied outside of the White House on November 9th to protest President Trump’s proposed ban on e-cigarettes went all but unmentioned in the mainstream media. Their signs were simple and to-the-point: “We Vape. We Vote.” And vote they will.
Contrary to popular opinion, vapers are an important part of the electorate that have been mostly ignored. According to a Gallup poll from July 2019, approximately 8 percent of Americans, or about 26 million people, “say they have vaped within the past week.” Furthermore, a new national poll commissioned by the Vapor Technology Association and conducted by McLaughlin & Associates demonstrates how important of a voting bloc e-cigarette users are.
Their survey, which questioned 4,669 adult vapers in battleground states, shows that 97 percent of vapor consumers strongly oppose “banning flavors in all nicotine vapor products.” 83 percent of vapor consumers “are likely to decide their vote based solely on a candidate’s position on nicotine vapor products,” and half of those surveyed responded that they were “very likely” to be single issue voters on this issue. Most importantly, the vast majority (96 percent) of those surveyed are likely voters with 85 percent of respondents saying they are “definitely” voting.
Paul Blair from Americans for Tax Reform put it best when he states that, “This new poll further confirms what [we have] long argued, that millions of adults who use flavored nicotine e-cigarettes to quit smoking will vote on that issue and that issue alone.”
On November 19, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) rolled back its previous assertion that e-cigarettes were linked to a series of lung illnesses throughout the country. After laboratory testing, the CDC has concluded that the primary cause of the mysterious vaping related illnesses was the inclusion of vitamin E acetate in THC-containing vapes. Vitamin E acetate, a thickening agent used in marijuana vapes, is not allowed in regulated vaping products and has primarily entered the United States through black market sales. The chemical is not found in nicotine e-cigarettes and none of the illnesses reported resulted from vaping nicotine.
The impetus for the push to ban e-cigarettes was based on this concern of the CDC that has since been proven false. Even so, many on both sides of the aisle have continued to call for an outright ban on e-cigarettes. In fact, just this week, the American Medical Association called for a total ban on all vapor products, despite the evidence.
Everyone is in agreement that we should promote policies that reduce the incidence of youth vaping. However, Americans should never be forced to give up their individual liberties, especially when doing so would likely result in more public harm than the status quo.
Any Republican that takes a stand supporting a ban on vapor products is simultaneously ignoring the will of their constituents and violating the principles of individual liberty. It should never be the role of the federal government to tell Americans what they can and can’t do with their body.
The Trump administration has realized the error of their ways and has backed down from banning e-cigarettes through executive action. Congress should do the same. This is an issue of great importance to a great number of people who have largely been ignored by their representatives. It’s time for our representatives to actually listen to their constituents rather than bending to the will of powerful interest groups trying to stifle competition.