According to reports, the White House and the Administration have decided to back off from its earlier pledge to ban flavored vape products that attract primarily young users. The reason for flipping: Trump’s campaign manager thinks it could cost the President too many votes in the upcoming election. In the current political climate, I can’t honestly say this comes as a surprise.
I never expected him to make the move in the first place, given that vaping is now a major revenue source for such corporate giants as the Altria Group (formerly Philip Morris Companies) and others. Just a year ago, Altria bought into Juul Labs, the largest vendor, for a cool 12.8 billion dollars. JUUL’s success has largely been built on sales to youth, including many who were not already smokers. No, they were interested in the “boost” they heard you could get from nicotine. Those mint, menthol and candy-flavored cartridges were simply an easy way to avoid irritating the throat.
It’s not difficult to see why public health experts were concerned. Here we are in America with cigarette use at all-time lows, due to a massive educational effort that began all the way back in 1964, with the Surgeon General’s Report on smoking and health. Lung cancer became a regular topic in the media, and smoking prevention a focus for public health. We realized that something had to be done, and gradually, over the vigorous objections of the tobacco industry, it was.
Now all that hard work and progress could be threatened by a new generation of kids introduced to nicotine through electronic smoking. As one kid argued, if he’s already hooked on nicotine, why not indulge in cigarettes every so often? If it gets out of hand, he can always go back to the vape pen.
Famous last words.
When we allow something that’s potentially harmful to grow into a major revenue source for Big Business, they fight hard against later attempts to exert controls that might cut into that revenue. Ask those who spent decades battling Big Tobacco. Lesson learned from that experience: Corporations will fight dirty if necessary to protect their investment. That includes in the political arena.
Perhaps after the next presidential election, if things settle down a bit (he says, hopefully), the Federal Government and Congress can to return to the issue. I suspect that public support for restrictions on vaping and e-smoking will be broad.